Dear Inner Circle,

The greatest lesson I’ve learned over these years is that love is everywhere to be found and everywhere in need of me. Just now there seems to be so many people suffering from major mental health issues. There are always people around Wayside talking to themselves or having arguments with people who are not present, but just lately I’ve noticed that the numbers have increased and the needs are overwhelming. This morning as I approached the building, I saw a vaguely familiar face that clearly recognised me and made a direct beeline for me. As we approached each other I recognised someone that I’d not seen for a while. A couple of years ago, the young bloke had a full set of teeth and today, not a single tooth in his head remained. It was a happy reunion with a broad, gummy smile. “Hey Rev, I’ve figured out all this stuff about Jesus. I know why he was popular and why they killed him.” We were off to a good start. “I’ve calculated it all mathematically, but I’m going to have to do it all again because I’d forgotten that 1982 was a leap year.” “Oh” I said as if I could see the relevance. In just a few minutes he descended into total incoherence. He excused himself because he had to find a quiet place to do some more calculations. I loved that we had a connection of sorts, even though our words carried no meaning to me at all.

The sight of one other fellow who appeared this week, caused me to catch my breath. We’d not seen him for perhaps seven or eight years. To look at, this guy is a cross between a garden gnome and a raging bull and you can never be sure which form you’re about to encounter. When we last saw him, he was a danger to himself and everyone around him. I’d mostly encountered him while he was in a florid psychosis and his ravings, ignored by all around him were, if you listened, the most heart-breaking collection of tormented statements that could ever be heard. I came to the conclusion that years ago he must have been dreadfully abused by perhaps his mother or some other significant figure in his childhood. It broke my heart to hear him and we did our best to get him appropriate treatment but at a critical moment, he simply vanished. Today he has a different name to seven years ago and I greeted him like a long, lost friend. He’s still unwell, but at least now the nasty spitting of abuse is missing. He’d not seen our new building so I offered to show him around. I introduced him to various staff as if he was a guest of honour and I’m pleased to tell you that they each, in turn, treated him in the same way. When we got to the garden on the roof, this dear man was blown away. He kept saying, “Wow, this has come up good” and “You’ve done such a great job Graham”. Considering that I’d almost never heard a coherent sentence from this bloke, I was blown away by his genuine appreciation of just how far we’ve come since the old Wayside building had been developed.

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