Some of Graham’s letters, for no particular reason, speak to me louder than others. I don’t think he minds me redistributing them.
Dear Inner Circle,
Friends, volunteers and staff sometimes bring people to my office because, “they need to talk to Graham.” Some awkward meetings have taken place at times when it has become clear that the meeting was less than a voluntary act. This week as I walked into my office I found a young woman, who looked as surprised to meet me as I was to meet her. This professional young woman was crying, unable to make eye contact and probably wishing she was anywhere but my office. It’s weird to encounter someone resisting what isn’t asserted. She didn’t have much to say except, “I don’t know who I am anymore”. With eyes that darted around the room, to the floor, then around the room again, she told me that she’d recently lost her job and a partner. A relationship that had begun with all the intensity of a wild movie had dissipated to a point where the young woman felt invisible in her own home. “Why do people forget to love?” was a question that almost vomited up from the depths of her soul. Eventually we looked at each other. What a face! What a mystery, that this face had been entrusted to another who had stopped looking or perhaps more correctly, stopped seeing. I didn’t fix anything, nor did I claim to know how to. The woman cried and talked a lot and I expect that really eased her burden. However when our faces met, I knew we were truly present to one another. She was not an interesting case for me nor was she a problem to be solved. She was herself, awesome, and beside me. I doubt that we’ll meet again but I will never forget her name and I simply appreciated the gift of her presence. I know she left my room a different woman because when she left, I was a different man. We were gloriously useless to each other and yet each added something priceless.
One of our more famous street dwellers stood up from her bed when she saw me walking past yesterday, she embraced me in a moment of tender silence. I said, “You are a good woman” and she replied, “It takes a good man to know a good woman.”
We try to keep our Sunday church services (Bondi at 9.30am and Kings Cross at 11am) free of clergy-droning as far as possible. This week, we began our service at Kings Cross with a little girl, perhaps five years old, telling us a joke. “Why did the ice-block head to the freezer?” the answer, “He was sweating”. You didn’t have to get the joke to get the blessing. Not long after, a man who I know to be in his fifties, stood up to announce that he’d just turned twenty. He followed up by saying, “Twenty years sober today!” This is a fellow who was literally born on a park bench to an alcoholic mother. Born with fetal alcohol syndrome, what a rough life’s journey and what a triumph of human spirit to be the man he is today. Our congregation broke into applause and cheering. At another point in our service, a young boy offered his impression of the President of the USA. “We must build a wall” he proclaimed in his best American accent. We always say that we’re not much like a church, but that it works for those of us who are not much like Christians.
Thanks for being part of our inner circle,