The Wayside Chapel

On the Verge - Winter 2017

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graham long editorial wayside welcomes goie liFe's a beach why i donate Josh's story wayside visitors In this issue The Wayside Chapel on the verge WInter 2017 So much great work has been done at Wayside, that the number of ways we engage with people who are struggling has multiplied many times. We teach homeless people how to grow their own produce on our rooftop garden and share in the joy of their first harvest. We have health professionals, working outside of the medical system, so that people who've let their health go can retake control through diet and exercise. We have sporting activities, dramatic and creative arts, and literary opportunities at every level, to spark interest and impart skills that were never there or never nurtured. All of this has developed because good people care and give their lives to participate in our mission of creating community with no 'us and them'. It's a wonderful testament to the people who will sacrifice time, money and talent, to make this world a better place. Our work however, is tough. We aim to make parallel lines of relation, meet. It's nothing short of a miracle. Most resist change. Wayside is a place of constant affirmation and hope but it is also a place of confrontation. It is never our aim to make people feel more comfortably dysfunctional. We have no interest in making people merely feel better. We don't do free food unless there is a special occasion. Food isn't free. At Wayside, homeless people gladly pay a few dollars for food, often in preference to the free food supplied by agencies whose model is "charity". Wayside is less interested in "charity" and more interested in engagement and the dignity that comes with taking someone seriously. "Charity" is demeaning, no matter how good the hearts of the people who provide it. We understand that when a life is imploding, it is driven by the question, "What can you give me" or the closely related question, "How much can I get for the cheapest price." You don't have to be homeless to be driven by this question. It's the weirdest thing to watch a life diminishing in a feverish pursuit for advantage. A dysfunctional life often lives in an ordered, reliable world. Even if the world and everyone in it is a total stranger, it is your object and you can make sense and apportion blame for the ways things are. Wayside aims to call people out from such certainty. To move in a new direction brings a person into an unreliable world. Instead of finding explanations and causes in the past, we're keen to find them in the future. At times, the magic happens, the parallel lines meet. In such moments we know a community without experts and clients, without housed and homeless, without sick and well, without saved and lost. In such moments, we all move toward health and we meet each other in the present. In such moments, all of us move toward health. Something has changed and each of us has something that we didn't have before. This is not about psychology nor about self-actualisation or self-anything. Suddenly there is a sense of something bigger than myself and it comes in an invitation into life. All of our services, all of our tools, are an aide for this end. We recognise a dramatic shift when the driving questions moves from, "What can you give me" to "How can I help?" Rev Graham Long AM Rev Graham Long AM

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