Peniel–November–2014

October 31, 2014

PENIEL
“Where Jacob Wrestled With God and survived”
Temenos Catholic Worker
Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.S.T.
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164-2656
temenos@gmail.com http://www.temenos.org Phone: 415-305-2124 PayPal: on website

Rumors and Repentance

Today, Christians are often compromised by the proliferation of rumors, or flawed stories, that are passed around in social and professional circles through Face Book, Twitter, Tumblr, and other social media. When we are drawn into these conversations we fail to realize the damaging effects. Secondly, we have our little “pity parties” and take no action.
During the holiday season, we surround ourselves with our friends and give out our beautiful stories of holiday cheer on all of our social media to the point we cover over a hard reality–there are millions of people who are suffering on our streets alone. They have no food, they have no friends, they have nothing but the clothes on their back, and the majority cannot find health care.
Presently I know two people who are dying of cancer, and it has been impossible to get them the support they need. There is one young man, with a college degree, who has been unable to find a job, and lives out of his van, and moves from one city to another looking for work.

These are not rumors, but flesh and blood people, out of countless millions. We hear of our economic recovery and yet that recovery does not touch the lives of millions. Our media overlook that, the majority of the time. We cry out for our government to take care of “those in need,” and for what it is worth the City of San Francisco has done its best; I can give nothing but praise to the efforts of San Francisco. What is needed is a transformation in all of society to turn our eyes to the needs of the “least of these” and to give of our own plenty.
Jesus reminds us, “If we do not repent, we will all perish,” and repentance takes the form of opening our eyes and seeing the need, and moving from that seeing into doing. And that doing during this Thanksgiving time can lead to doing all year long. “Doing” simply means to me: feeding people each day of my life; looking them in the eye and speaking to them; continually, through emails, phone calls, and letter writing, lifting up the needs of the homeless to our government officials; and living simply, in order that others may live.

A Cherokee legend retold on Tumblr speaks well to the great dichotomy we face, a grandmother tells her grandson, “Two wolves live inside me, as they do in each of us. One is anger, sorrow regret, inferiority–the other, love, ;joy, peace and hope. These two are in constant struggle with each other.” The child considers this and asks her, “But which of these wolves wins the fight?” She answers, “The one I feed.” And as we look in our own lives–which wolf do we feed–the one who is “love, joy, peace and hope,” or the one who is “anger, sorrow, regret, inferiority?”

It is is simply a matter of opening our eyes, and our hearts– experiencing that suffering as we walk with people. We can hide behind our charades of “all is well,” or “our elected officials are doing what they can,” or “these people deserve what they have,” or we can open our hearts, repent of our ignorance and of doing nothing, and take the one little step at a time–looking people in the eyes and speaking, providing food to one person at a time, writing letters to our elected leaders, and living more simply–just take one step. And those little steps together will swell into a waterfall of steps and change the situation. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!
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THANKSGIVING MEAL

On Thanksgiving Day we will be starting a new program entitled, “Thanksgiving Thank you,” in which we will take a Thanksgiving meal to people who work in our service stations and other convenience stores in the neighborhood. They often work without recognition and separation from those they love. Following this we will serve our meal in Hemlock Alley. We will start at Noon from St. Luke’s Episcopal Church at 1755 Clay Street, at Van ness, San Francisco, CA.
—————————————————————————————————————————- CHRISTMAS GIFTS

We are giving beanies (stocking caps) for our Christmas gifts. We will be giving out approximately 1000 to those on the street on Christmas Day.
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WE ARE BEGGARS
This year we come to you with our begging bowl in our hands. We are especially in need with the increase in those we serve, and so we come in humble gratefulness for all you do and ask that you will open your heart to provide for those who have so little. This past month we have served 1500 hot meals, provided sandwiches and other food items to 2000, provide pastoral care of the Eucharist, hospital visitation, and counseling to too many to count. So please give, and thank you for all you do. Fr. River Damien Sims. You may give through PayPal on our website: http://www.temenos.org or by check.

WEEKLY WITNESS AGAINST THE DEATH PENALTY
Each Wednesday from Noon-1:00 P.M. hold our “Weekly Witness Against the Death Penalty” at 355 McAllister Street, in front of the Earl Warren State Supreme Court Building. Come join us!

All Hallows

October 31, 2014

October 31, “All Hallows” Philippians 1:1-11; Luke 14:1-6

Today will be the “Day of the Dead” and Halloween, it is a day of breaking decorum–dressing up, and chasing ghosts. But more than that it is a day to remember the dead.

Tonight I celebrated in Golden Gate Park a Eucharist with 30 young men and women, some high, all wearing different forms of dress. To an outsider it would already be Halloween, with the dress and demeanor of my congregants. We celebrated a “Day of the Dead”/”All Saints” Mass. As they remembered their families and friends who have died it was sad for so many so young to have lost so many. But in those moments as the Bread was broken and the Cup lifted the presence of Christ held out hope in the resurrection.

Tonight I remember my saints who have died and I do so with sadness and yet with hope in the resurrection: my grandparents, my parents, the ministers of my youth who guided me into my vocation: David Richardson, Claude Stone, Bill Shamburger, my District Superintendents who guided me to ordination–E.W. Bartley, Frank Tucker, John Doggett; I remember Mary Lou, my friend here, who was faithful; and I remember Rio, a young man who in his success experienced so much pain and failure, and died so young and , who when I was a whore in Hollywood told me “you have never left the ministry and you never will,” and he left me at his death a sum of money that financed the first two years of Temenos; I remember my son Zack, and the two thousand plus of young men and women I have known, loved, and have buried in my twenty years here.

Each of them has been Christ to me, and when I am asked what I see in these broken young men and women, I see the broken body of Christ, and that is why I will lay down my life for them. On this “All Hallows Eve”, let us remember those who have gone before us. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

VegInspiration
There is the macrobiotic perspective that animal foods are extremely yang in their energetic impact on the body, contracting the energy field, and that the body will then naturally and inevitably crave foods and substances that are extremely yin and expansive.

These extreme yin foods are alcohol, white sugar, drugs of most every kind, tobacco, and caffeine. Grains, legumes, and vegetables tend to be neither excessively yin nor yang, but are more balanced, and so create few cravings.

Eating extreme foods forces the body to gyrate continuously between the two poles, alternatively craving contracting foods like meat, cheese, eggs, and salt, and then expansive substances like sweets, coffee, alcohol, drugs, and tobacco, ad nauseam. Dr. Will Tuttle

Prayer

October 30, 2014

October 30, 2014 “Prayer” Louis Massignon Eph. 6:10-20, Lk. 13:31-35

“Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Eph. 6:20

Through the years I thought we could change people, but frankly only God can do that. We can make our laws–but until people open their hearts little changes. For example while we give our President credit for his support of queer rights, it is only because the hearts of people have become open;–due to the struggle of the older generation to be an example that we have seen the changes.

For me I have learned to Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Eph. 6:20. And to live out to the best of my ability the Gospel by living simply, causing trouble every chance I get, and looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.

So as election day arrives–Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Eph. 6:20. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

– VegInspiration
By ceasing to eat animal foods and thus causing misery to our neighbors, and by practicing meditation and quiet reflection, which can eventually extract our consciousness out of the brambles of compulsive thinking, we can begin to understand what consciousness actually is. We will see that to the degree we can be open to the present moment and dwell in inner spacious silence, beyond the ceaseless internal dialogue of the busy mind, we can experience the radiant, joy-filled serenity of pure consciousness.Dr. Will Tuttle

God Saves, We Spend

October 29, 2014

October 19 “God Saves, We Spend” Blessed Restituta Kafka, Eph. 6:1-89; Luke 13:22-30

I ran into a person I worked with my first year in San Francisco in an agency and he commented to me, “If you had simply stayed in the agency you would have retired with a great retirement, don’t you think you have wasted your life?”

The reality is I saved my life in doing this ministry, for as I look at what is going on in San Francisco and the craving for money, the question I asked, “In fifty years, guys, where are you going to be?” “What will you have?’ A young man I met a year and a half go who came out here to make it big in the tech gold rush left yesterday to go back to New York–broke, disillusioned, aged–he was not one of the lucky ones. The one’s you see in the Chronicle are only a few of the millions who come, who go broke, who leave.

The reality for me is no amount of money or security could buy the peace and satisfaction I have in my life. Yesterday as I spent the day cooking, and then last night as I walked the Haight giving out food, talking, I found so much delight. One young woman had just had a miscarriage and we spent an hour talking, and it is in those moments that I realize that I am a billionaire a million times over.

Pam Byers, a woman of courage, who fought for Queer rights in the Presbyterian Church died two days ago. While we hear nothing but praise of her now, I remember a time many years ago when other words were uttered against her. But her courage, her determination has made it possible for queer people to be accepted in ministry in her denomination–that is worth far more than any material possessions. Pam lived out the words of Blessed Restituta Katka, “I have lived for Christ, I want to die for Christ.”

And those are the words I want live my life by–for I know I am a sinner, the biggest bastard in the world, but I seek to live out those words every day of my life, and that for me is where my wealth comes from. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

VegInspiration
By ceasing to eat animal foods and thus causing misery to our neighbors, and by practicing meditation and quiet reflection, which can eventually extract our consciousness out of the brambles of compulsive thinking, we can begin to understand what consciousness actually is. We will see that to the degree we can be open to the present moment and dwell in inner spacious silence, beyond the ceaseless internal dialogue of the busy mind, we can experience the radiant, joy-filled serenity of pure consciousness. Dr. Will Tuttle

Saint of the Hopeless

October 28, 2014

October 28, “The Saint of Hopeless Causes” St. Jude and St. Simon Eph. 2:19-22; Luke 6:12-16

Today is the Feast of St. Jude, the saint of hopeless causes, and I often think of him when people are asking me about my “success stories.” Tonight I spent several hours with “Jude”:, 19, a young man who has a history of drug abuse and mental illness, much of which my guess comes from his struggle with his sexuality. He prostitutes to make extra money. As I listened tonight I saw in him the long line of young men I have sat with through the years, and I saw me in him so many years ago. He commented, “sometimes I simply want someone to listen to me,” and I thought of how far away we have gotten away from listening today. Our texts, our emails, face book etc remove us from face to face human contact. I remember a book by Taylor Caldwell many years ago entitled The Listener, whose basic theme was that what people needed most was someone to listen to them, and how that book influenced my ministry from its very beginning, and still influences it. We are too busy trying to fix things, too busy building our churches or our careers that we fail to listen. I am often asked, “how do you meet people on the street,” as if it is some great tool you have to have–the answer is simply–I talk to them and listen, and believe me if you listen you get people’s attention. I spend 99.9 per cent of my time listening. St.Jude is the saint of hopeless causes–I believe that in that hopelessness the greatest gift we can give is to simply listen. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Note: Names and ages i use are always changed.

VegInspiration
Because of our herding orientation and our unassuaged guilt complex due to the misery in our daily meals, we have warped our sacred connection with the infinite loving source of our life to an ultimate irony: comparing ourselves to sheep, we beg our shepherd for mercy, but since we show no mercy, we fear deep down we’ll not be shown mercy either and live in dread of our inevitable death.

We bargain and may proclaim overconfidently that we’re saved and our sins are forgiven (no matter what atrocities we mete out to animals and people outside our in-group), or we may reject the whole conventional religious dogma as so much absurd pablum and rely on the shallow materialism of science. However it happens, our spiritual impulse is inevitably repressed and distorted by the fear, guilt, violence, hardness, competitiveness, and shallow reductionism that herding and eating animals always demands. Dr. Will Tuttle

Christ With Us

October 27, 2014

Dietrict Bonhoeffer said, “God would have us know that we must live as people who manage our lives with out him.” And at first glance this seems to be a statement that says that we are all alone, but what Bonhoeffer is saying is that God created us to have freedom of will, to make choices, and God limited his/her own power with that decision. The choices we make often times are disastrous. And it is because of those choices that Christ came into the world. God looked at his creation and realized that his/her creation needed support, and his/her hope was that with Jesus being born into our midst we would make changes, and the result was that we chose to crucify Jesus, but Jesus could not be kept down, he rose again, and he walks with us in our lives today. He walks with us in our good choices, and in our wrong choices. We have the freedom to choose, but we have One who walks with us. This is the Good News of Advent—we are not alone. He works through us, we become his hands, his feet, his mouth.
Each day as I go about my business I walk with people who are severely hurt , traumatized, and brutalized by the streets and our society in general. I am often asked how many people I have shared the Gospel with, and my answer is that of St. Francis, “preach the Gospel, using as few as words as possible,” and the reality is I simply walk with them, helping them find their own path. I believe there are many ways to God, and Christ is the way I have found God, but there are many other ways, and so I do not seek to convert people to Christianity—I walk with them helping them to find their path—a path to meaning and purpose in life. My path is not that of making judgments on what others believe, but to be a guide, a catalyst for change in their lives and an awareness of the Divine, however they may experience the Divine within them.

Tribes

October 26, 2014

October 26, 2014 “Tribes” Matt. 22:34-40

Last night I took a homeless woman into a local restaurant and to her something to eat and the waiter told me, “We do not want people like her here,, I can not serve her,” and I simply said “You will serve her,” and he did; later a young man who was waiting on tables at the same restaurant said, “I simply want to work in the Castro, where my people are.” For all of our talk of inclusiveness we are still a people of tribes-of rich, poor, gay/lesbian/lbi/trans, black and white, brown and yellow Our churches are the most segregated organizations in the world. I watched the movie, “Overnighter” last night about the influx of people into the oil country of North Dakota. It was first of all distressing to see how we humans destroy our land for money, but what was more distressing was to see the tribal mentality of the local residents with the new ones. It was a sad movie for it portrayed us as tribal humans who cared only for our own families, our own race, our own church.

Jesus calls us to “Love our neighbor as ourselves,” and in doing so we love God. For when we treat human beings as our neighbors our lives change, we are reminded that we are the same, for we suffer, and we die, and we need to journey together. If we treated each other as our neighbor we would not have the problems of hunger and homelessness.

This movie pointed out as well that their is a layer of humanity that is suffering that is overlooked by our politicians, our media–we cultivate a plastic bubble–but bubbles bust–what will we do as tribes when the bubble bust? It is time we move from our tribal mentality into the mentality of being one family in the reign of God. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

VegInspiration
“Cruelty to animals is as if man did not love God…there is something so dreadful, so satanic, in tormenting those who have never harmed us, and who cannot defend themselves, who are utterly in our power.”
~ Cardinal John Henry Newman

Rumors and Repentance

October 25, 2014

Rumors and Repentance

Today, Christians are often compromised by the proliferation of rumors, or flawed stories, that are passed around in social and professional circles through Face Book, Twitter, Tumblr and other social media. When we are drawn into these conversations we fail to realize the damaging effects. Secondly, we have our little “pity parties” and take no action.

During the holiday season we surround ourselves with our friends and give out our beautiful stories of holiday cheer on all of our social interactions to the point we cover over a hard reality–there are millions of people who are suffering on our streets alone. They have no food, they have no friends, they have nothing but the clothes on their back, and the majority can not find health care.

Presently I know two people who are dying of cancer, and it has been impossible to get them the support they need. There is one young man, with a college degree, who has been unable to find a job, and lives out of his van, and moves from one city to another looking for work.

These are not rumors, but flesh and blood people, out of countless millions. We hear of our economic recovery and yet that recovery does not touch the lives of millions. Our media over looks that the majority of the time. We cry out for our government to take care of “those in need”, and for what it is worth the City of San Francisco has done its best, I can give nothing but praise to the efforts of San Francisco. What is needed is a transformation in all of society to turn our eyes to the needs of the “least of these” and to give of our own plenty.

Jesus reminds us that “if we do not repent, we will all perish,” and repentance takes the form of opening our eyes and seeing the need, and moving from that seeing into doing. And that doing during this Thanksgiving time can lead to doing all year long. By doing for me it simply means to feed people each day of my life, to look them in the eye and to speak to them, to continually through emails, phone calls, and letter writing to lift up the needs of the homeless to our government officials, and to live simply, in order that other’s may life.

Frankly it is simply a matter of opening our eyes, and experience that suffering as we walk with people. We can hide behind our charades of “all is well”; or “our elected officials are doing what they can,” or “these people deserve what they have,”, or we can open our hearts, repent of our ignorance and of doing nothing, and take the one little step at a time. And those little steps together will swell into a water fall of steps and change the situation. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

“He Descended Into Hell”

October 24, 2014

October 24, “He Descended Into Hell” St. Anthony Mary Claret, Eph. 4:1-6; Luke 12:54-59

We were required to be in therapy the two years prior to our ordination, to “descend into the hell’ of our own lives, as the Apostle’s Creed says Jesus did. It was a tough time, but from that time I learned that was what we were called to do, “to descend into hell” of our parishners lives.

Last night I sit with a young man as he descended into his hell, of drug abuse, sexual abuse, sexual identity, parental abuse, and for two hours I saw Satan in his life, and in that process I saw the presence of the Risen Christ.

It is never easy to sit with someone and descend into hell with them, it is the hardest work that one can do, tough work, and sometimes debilitating. But it is in that work that we experience the resurrection. And I have realized through the years that is where we need to be the most present in the hell of people’s lives.

Last night a person was raging at me because I served a vegan meal and frankly a part of the awareness that has come to permeate my life the past four or five years can be found in the words of Will Tuttle:

“We can argue that animals are largely unconscious, decreeing that because animals seem to lack the complex language that allows them to formulate thoughts in words as we do, their experience of suffering must therefore be less significant or intense for them.

This same thinking, however, could be used to justify harming human infants and senile elderly people. If anything, beings who lack the ability to analyze their circumstances may suffer at our hands more intensely than we would because they are unable to put the distance of internal dialogue between themselves and their suffering.”

Jesus rises each time we descend into hell and brings resurrection in all areas of our life, we simply need to let go of ourselves and surrender to that experience. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fire In the Bones

October 24, 2014

October 23 Luke 12:49-53 “Fire in our Bones”

A person told me today that in order for one to be a good “service provider” one should simply provide the services and move on, without being affected by the person’s life. He was pointing out how much easier my life would be, and I pointed out to him that my life would be a hell of a lot more boring. The reality is I do not shrink from unforeseen passion, but move into life knowing that the cross awaits. For it is in the cross that one finds the love of God. For me I find fire in the wood of the people I serve, and it is in that consuming fire that I find Jesus revealed. Only by giving ourselves, all of our being in service do we truly find Christ. Jesus is a consuming fire for me, in all of his being, and in being consumed I am being born into eternal life. Being a priest is offering my life as a sacrifice to God, and that sacrifice in service to the lives of people. Life for me is not about retiring, or worrying about growing old, or worrying about where my next meal is going to come from–it is about offering my life daily to Christ and all the rest will be taken care of.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

VegInspiration
Buckminster Fuller often emphasized that the way of cultural transformation is not so much in fighting against destructive attitudes and practices, but in recognizing them as being obsolete and offering positive, higher-level alternatives.

The competitive, violent, commodifying mentality of the ancient herding cultures is, in our age of nuclear weapons and global interconnectedness, profoundly obsolete, as is eating the animal foods of these old cultures, which are unhealthy in the extreme both to our body-minds and to our precious planetary ecology.Dr. Will Tuttle


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