Today, the third and final story in the series on Graham Long’s memoir, Love over Hate: Finding life by the wayside. Graham is the CEO/Pastor of the famous Wayside Chapel in Sydney, and his book is filled with stories, both funny and shocking, about life by the wayside, walking with the mentally ill, the homeless, the addicted.
This one I’m calling “Benediction”. It features an incident that happened to Graham a few months after the death of his son, James.
Confronted one day in The Wayside cafe by a bloke who often asks me for money, I decided I couldn’t bear to hear the story that always preceded the asking, and so I said, “How much will it cost me for you to get out of my face today?”
“Two dollars,” he said.
“Bargain,” I replied, and handed over the money. It was wrong of me, but it was an act that laid bare my barren soul.
One day soon after this encounter, I was running late for a meeting in the city and I needed to be in a cab within minutes. The meeting was to consider how we might raise money for our new building. As I ran out of The Wayside’s front door, a shabby-looking bloke, whom I knew vaguely by sight even though I don’t think we had ever talked to each other, confronted me.
He stepped one way and then the other, making it clear he was not going to let me pass. I was frustrated and began to feel in my pocket to see if a dollar might get me past this obstruction.
Eventually, we stood face to face looking at each other, me fairly annoyed and him with a rather silly look on his face. He threw his arms around me and kissed me on the cheek and whispered in my ear,
That is from your son.
I jumped into a cab and went to my meeting, although the meeting that mattered had already happened. The man had shown me I was living on autopilot and real love and real life were everywhere. I was living in the illusion of the “everyday” and this man was able to dissolve my protective zone with a kiss. I wasn’t looking for life or love but they came looking for me. It brought me to a place with a gentleness that no amount of force could have done. It brought great liberation.
If you enjoyed this post …
If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy the other stories in the series: