Peniel August

July 30, 2018


August, 2018

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Journal of An Alien Street Priest:

Growing up in the South, the dog days of August were very real. The weather was hot, humid, we stayed around the house most of the day until the sun set. We drank a lot of ice tea, ate a lot of watermelon, and barbecued. They were days of reflection, and of looking ahead to the coming year.

In reflecting this year during this time I think of our countries psyche  and  my own life.  For me I have discovered within my life, and with  what is  happening  in the greater world similarities.

 I have discovered that my own desire to connect can sometimes become an inordinate attachment to receiving praise, love, and acceptance from others. I often struggle with sacrificing integrity and authenticity to orchestrate attachment to others. There is a phrase from the Henry Rollins album, “weight”, which says: “Loneliness will make you throw your sins away.”

Loneliness eats at our very souls, and I have found I will throw away everything to have a friend, and always it is in vain. The same in our country, we are so afraid we are going to lose the  freedoms and rights we have gained, that we “throw our sins away,” losing our sense of respect for the dialogue of other people who differ from us.

Doing these dog days of August I am listening to the Spirit, and am being reminded  not to fear, to respond in truth and love and to trust. And that is my prayer for others—do not fear, respond in truth and love, and trust each other. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Weekly Meals:

It has become apparent that personally I will not be able to prepare weekly meals alone.  We are asking for volunteers who will put in 4-5  hours a week to package and help serve the meals on the street. Thank you.

We now have two new interns, they are Cale King and Aaron Olaya, Juniors in High School from San Rafael, CA. Both are passionate and caring about people, and find working with us rewarding.

​                                                                                       Aaron                                                                       Cale

 Aaron and Cale.png

Death Penalty Protest:

September 5, Noon-1:00 p.m. we will begin our weekly Death Penalty Protest.  The Death Penalty is in humane, and makes of all of us murderers. Come join us!

We Are Beggars!

Our finances are very low. We are in need of socks, we are in need of money for food, and so we beg, for your support. We continue to minister to 500 plus young people a month through our pastoral care, socks, food, and needle exchange. And so as you reflect during these dog days we pray you will remember us. Please give:

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Pay Pal at

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Called to Be A Revolutionary

May 29, 2020

Called to Be A Revolutionary

Psalm 102:3a: “For my days drift away like smoke.”

    In reading Psalm 102, we hear a plea to God to respond to our cry, to offer comfort and strength  in our times of trouble.

    I write and preach about being grateful for God’s loving arms, when much of the time more often than not I am watching the hours and days wisp away, fading like smoke on the horizon.

    On this day, May 29, 1968, the Poor People’s Campaign arrived in Washington D.C.  The campaign was established to broaden the civil rights movement to include disadvantaged people of all races. The main demonstration was held at the Mall in Washington D.C., where people camped in tents called Resurrection City. Seven thousand demonstrators made this tent city their home to bring attention to poverty and injustice.

    The demonstrations all across our country today, the homeless on our streets, the wide gulf between those who “can shelter  in place,” and our minorities, economically and racially who can not, remind us that we have battles to fight. and people to take care of.

    Mississippi civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hammer said: “Christianity is being concerned about your fellow man, not building a million-dollar church while people are starving right around the corner. Christ was a revolutionary person, out there where it is happening. That’s what God is all about, and that is where I get my strength.”

So when we feel like we are watching the hours and days wisp away, fading like smoke on the horizon, lt us pray the Psalm-prayer:

Lord, teach me to be as you are with your people, full present in each moment. Let my eyes see with the clarity of your spirit, grateful for the rising of the sun and the setting of each day and for each person I encounter. Amen. (From Forward).

Father River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min.,, D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


( you may give through pay pal which is found on our website)

National Day of Mourning and Lament

Monday, June 1, 2020

Labyrinth, Grace Cathedral or at Home


National Day of Mourning and Lament

May 28, 2020



June 1, 2020






to feel, show, or express grief, sorrow or regret

to mourn deeply


a crying out in grief: waiting

As we pass the horrifying milestone of 100, 000 American deaths to the cornavirus, Sojourner magazine is using the hash tag #Lament100k to urge people to pause-to lament .

The reality is we can not abbreviate all of these deaths, the loss of the lives of people, we have to feel all one hundred thousand plus  of our  of neighbors, friends, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, mother’s grandmothers, grand fathers, grandchildren, mom’ and dad’s–all dead from COVID-19.

This is a marker we can not blow off, we can not pass by with just a thought of a number. We must stop. We must weep. We must mourn. We must honor. And we must lament, which is to feel and bear great grief and sorrow, and reflect upon what has been, is and will be.

To pray we must go deeper  than this horrifying sickness; we must also see the national divisions, and also the signs of hope the virus continues to reveal.

Our suffering is painful, racially and economically disproportionate, but our healing must be in unison. To lament means more than weeping and mourning; it also includes regret –to ask why this has happened, to understand that it did not have to be this way, that we could have been better, smarter, fairer, more compassionate and justice. And the hope that we can do better.

This pandemic calls us to look at our brothers and sisters on the street, those in our poor neighborhoods, those on the edge, the majority of people who are suffering in our community. It calls us to look at our minorities, and calls us to not see racial or religions divisions, simply human beings who are all children of the One God.

A National Day of Mourning has been called on June 1, by a group of  national interfaith religious leaders, supported by U.S. Conference of Mayors, to transcend our divisions and  to lament, to grieve, and to mourn.  And the National Governors Association is inviting governors to take part.

We ask everyone to share with their religious leaders, to write our local, state, and national representatives and invite them to join in this National Day of Mourning on Monday, June 1.  To share in their worship on line or in person this day of mourning.

We ask that on June 1 you remember the individuals who are suffering from the disease, who have died, and those on the front lines battling the COVID-1.

We invite all to join us on June 1, 2020 ( we will be walking the  out door Labyrinth at Grace Cathedral) in praying the following

Litany : Loss of the Living:

Sovereign of Creation,

Here were your good creatures, your chidren.

(A moment to center your thoughts and hearts)

Here were your good creatures, your sons, your daughters, O Lord,

pondered and called to life

by your own compassionate design.

Here were your good creatures, your sons, your daughters,

and here were the spaces and the days we

shared, enjoying the glad  company

and cheerful fellowship of our  brothers and sisters.

We made room in our lives,

rooms in our homes, rooms in our hearts,

to welcome your unique creation,

and to each person we gave a name::

(Please remember our brothers and sisters by name):


We were filled with a right and fond affection

for another living being your hands had made, delighting daily in its presence.

Now this season of our shared lives, this season of COVID-19, is ended by death.

Our hearts are unprepared for such loss and we are deeply grieved.

Even so Heavenly God

we are grateful for the life that was,

for the gift of a person, we so loved.

We are thankful for the many blessings

of knowing this person

and for the lingering imprint of such a cherished presence in our lives.

We are grateful these memories

of sweeter times;

(Remember a fond memory of someone you have lost or of times pre-virus and what you will miss what you will miss)

We are grateful, O God,

for the happiness that was,

even as we mourn the sorrow that is,

even as we sit in the sadness

of now empty spaces

in heart and home,

empty spaces that echo our loss.

Now we say our good byes.

( Meditate silently or speak  a loud  your  farewell)

O, Lord how long till all is made right?

How long till your wild grace restores all loss

and upends every leaving?

How long till these hurts are healed

and these griefs eternally sealed and set aside

by the finally completed work of your redeeming love?

We know if no sparrow falls

beyond the ken of your compassion,

that you also,in this moment,

inhabit our sadness at this deep wounding,

your weeping at the world’s brokeness

somehow deeper than our own.

Be near us, O God.

Be near each of us who must reckon

with the sorrow of death

and the sting of separation,

for what we feel in this loss

is nothing less

than the groan of creation.

Our finite minds cannot trace

the deeper mysteries of your eternal mendings,

but this we know with certainty:

You are merciful and loving,

gentle and compassionate,

caring tenderly for all that you have made.

We know that the final working of your

redemption will be far-reaching,

encompassing all things in heaven and on earth,

so that no good thing will be lost forever,

so that even our sorrow at the loss

of our beloved  will some how, some day, be met and filled, and in joy made forever complete.

Comfort us in this meantime, O Lord,

for the ache of these days is real.


Adapted from: Every moment Holy


Father River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

(pay pal is on our web site)

Book Review

May 27, 2020
Description: Book Review and Reflection The Call of the Mourning Dove by Stephanie Rutt Acts 20:17-27: “.. . . .But I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only  I may finish my course and the ministry that I received the Lord Jesus Christ. .” John 17: 1-11: “Now this is eternal life that they should know you, the only true God and the one whom you sent Jesus Christ. John 17:3.     Our author introduces her book with these words: “The call of the mourning dove is distinctive. Some might even say haunting. Yet unmistakable. One senses a kind of longing in the sound which, in the most concrete since, is confirmed by our knowledge that the familiar cooing is elicited by the male in search of a mate who will join him in a monogamous partnership of live. Metaphorically, the dove is often cited as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. . . The call, one could say, is God’s love for us calling us home to be with him. We respond because the call answers some deep longing. . .We sense  we will never be completed, whole, until we are united with our God.”     I remember hearing the cooing of doves in the cold of winter deep, and beautiful, growing up,  inviting us to find warmth in uniting  with them.     Knowing eternal life  is not a hope we look for, but in coming into relationship with God we live in that eternity. It is present. There are many streams of God, and my stream is Jesus, from which perspective I write.     My own journey has been listening to the cooing of the mourning dove, summoning me to  living the eternal life in Jesus.      We began as a young boy, experiencing God’s love in people around us. We saw only one stream, Jesus, and as we moved through the joys and the pains of life, we came to understand that the God of Love, comes in the many streams of our world’s diverse religious expressions.     Father Richard Rhor gives an excellent experience of the Trinity and  of our experience, and the revelation of this book: “Whatever is going on in God is a flow, a radical relatedness, a perfect communion between the Three–a circle dance of love. And God is not just the dancer. God is the dance itself.”     And in dancing with God we follow him in the words of Mother Teresa, “Love must be put into action.” We resonate deeply now with St. Augustine’s reminder that God, indeed is love, and “love has feet. .”; love has hands”; “. .love has eyes. .” and “love has ears. . .” For often now our only desire is to have our feet, eyes, be used in service to our Beloved Creator. For, in the words of Karen Sunde, “To love is to receive a glimpse of heaven.” To love is to enter into eternal life.

Father River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164 (Pay pal can be found on the website)

Shedding Our Skins

May 25, 2020

Shedding Our Skins

“I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9


    Last year, walking  in Joshua Tree National Park I  noticed several snake skins on the trail. Every year snakes shed there skins. There bodies grow into a new state of being.

    A friend  complains about the changes we are having to go through at this time with the virus. He wants to go back to “normal.” I am  reminding  him he needs to “shed his skin”, to adjust and to grow in the new stage of our present life.  For only in shedding our skins can we grow. nothing  ever remains the same. Only in doing so can we adjust, find hope, and joy in life.

    “Normal” is not a word I  identify with–through out my  life there have been continual change, and little normalcy. I have shed many skins and in doing so grown in the process.

    I  was  kicked out my first religious denomination, kicked upstairs to be a bishop because “you are different”,  been fired from jobs, have friends who walk away and die, lost all financial support and lived  on the street;  making  money as a  sex worker; life is always changing, sometimes we are up, and sometimes we are down.  We learn to adapt,  and to grow, to bloom in the midst of adversity.

    Life is good! God is with us! and in loving our neighbor in all circumstances, life is really good!

    Father Richard Rhor reminds us we need to shed our skins of self-centeredness, to become compassionate.

“The First Conversion to solidarity is to have basic compassion for the poor in general, or one poor person. Throughout this discussion, I will be using the word “poor” in a very specific way—those who are powerless, dismissed, or considered lesser in society. This is far larger than mere economic poverty. Sadly, there seems to be many Christians who don’t even have basic compassion for the poor. In the United States, we are pretty much trained to blame people who are poor, immigrants or refugees, victims, or gay, lesbian, or transgendered people. Far too many seem to think, even if to themselves, that if “those people” would simply work a little more, do things the right way, change their minds, stay hidden, or just “pray a little harder,” we’d all be better off. The first conversion is where we must begin. Our hearts must be softened, and we must experience basic sympathy, empathy, and recognition of another person’s pain.”

    It is only in shedding our skins of self-centeredness and judgment can we enter into a fulfilling life, and as we evolve in this crisis, let us open our lives to our neighbors around us. 

    As we remember our veterans today let us remember those who are homeless and struggle with mental illness. 

    The question we should  each ask ourselves is not”

“What would Jesus do?” but

“What would Jesus do through me?” 

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


Father River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 04164


( I have been asked how to donate to Temenos on pay pal–simply go to our website and the button is present.)

Peniel: “Where Jesus Walked With God” Newsletter of Temenos Catholic Worker

May 24, 2020

PENIAL, “Where Jacob Wrestled With God.”

Newsletter of Temenos Catholic Worker

June Email 

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

Father River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.

Journal of An Alien Street Priest:

A Tale of Two Matthew’s

Acts 1:6-14; Psalm 68:1-10; 32-35; I Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11 John 17:1-11

Aldergate Day

    On May 24, 1738, in Aldersgate Street, London, during a meeting composed largely of Moravians under the auspices of the Church of England, John Wesley’s intellectual conviction was transformed into a personal experience while Luther’s preface to the commentary to the Letter of Paul to the Romans was being read. On a June night at Arcadia, a United Methodist Camp in the Ozarks of Missouri , we felt our heart “strangely warmed” and knew Christ was real, as real as we are, and we became friends, and we experienced our call to ministry.

    We remember Aldersgate each year because John Wesley, and his theology has shaped our life and ministry as has Dorothy Day whose theology of the “Mystical Body of Christ”, is the heart of our ministry.

“When we pray with Christ…we realize Christ as our Brother. We think of all men as our brothers then, as members of the Mystical Body of Christ. “We are all members, one of another,” and, remembering this, we can never be indifferent to the social miseries and evils of the day. The dogma of the Mystical Body has tremendous social implications.”

    I have been sick for over a week, been tested for the virus, and is negative, so as usual this time of year as the weather changes back and forth simply have fever and congested adjusting  to the weather.

    Last night I had a dream that comes at times of transition, that of the Angel of Death, and in this dream she fluttered around and looked me in the face saying: “Your time is near, but not now.”, and disappeared.

    This dream, is always a reminder to me, that we are simply dust, and to dust we will return, and that I am nearer than before.

    As I  laid in bed awake, I thought of two people who are symbolic of this ministry, and of whatever one wants to call a “legacy” (we are forgotten  once we die, but our sparks continue through others). It is a tale of two Matthew’s.

    The first Matthew entered my life nearly fifteen years ago. He had heard me speak in his class, and the day before Good Friday called  and asked to come and help with our Good Friday Service. So of course, the answer was yes. On Good Friday morning I drove to San Carlos and as he came out of his house there was a large suit case,  and Matt, long haired, in dye tie,  said, “My parents are in Europe, the person staying with me is not here, and so I am spending the weekend with you.” I was shocked, barely remembered talking to him, and when I talked to his mom whom I had never met, a lawyer, she said, “Oh cool, Thanks.” I thought she was crazy as a loon, and that began with her a friendship that lasted through thick and thin, the closest friend I have ever had. She died last year and I still grieve. I cried this morning looking at her photo. Vicki said she was not a believer, but she is in that Great Cloud of  Witnesses surrounding us, cheering me on. Very present. She expressed more love to people and represented the “the Mystical Body of Christ”, more than anyone we have ever known.

    And Matt, oh Matt, for six years as he went through high school we fought, battled, and stuck with each other.
The summer I was sick with malaria I stayed with them, and taught him how to drive, and we put up with each other. He asked me once why I cared for him, and I said, “Why not? “He was, and  still is a pain in the ass. Towards the end of his junior year there was an incident that he was involved in, that possibly may have caused his Catholic High School to kick him out and might have damaged his future,  and I took the blame, oh the condemnation and the hell for me that followed, we have never talked about it, but as he nears his graduation from law school this year, that is my reward. He grew up, has a great girl friend, and is going into environmental law.

    Matthew wrote an email several months ago, telling me how much he appreciated and cared about me and how I inspired him on his journey.  Whatever others might believe, that email told me all was worth it.

    The other Matt is nearing 21, and he came into volunteer when he was 14, and kept coming back, and when I was sick two years ago, at 18 he and two of his friends, took care of me. People consider Matt a wild kid, but to me he was just Matt. We have fought many a battle through these years, made a trip to Amsterdam, hated, and loved each other, but last night as I had dinner with him and his mother, I saw how mature in many ways he has become. As I left he hugged me, and said, “I love you,” and that to me is the greatest reward one can have. The scars, the wounds are worth it.

    Both these guys have been considered “difficult”, “immature,” ” not going any where,” by others, and both have been and are  my brothers. In them, as seen in my street kids is the “mystical body of Christ.”

    Both like the thousands of others will fade into my memory as they move on with their lives, marry, have children and careers. And like “Mr. Chips” (Good Bye Mr. Chips) I will sit on the bench and remember them and the others, as I grow old, and fade away.

    Both symbolize our ministry. The jewel in the cross above was given to me by a young guy in the Haight. A tourist offered him a hundred dollars, which was a thousand to him,  he picked it up and gave it to me saying, “you show us so much love, I want you to have it.” It symbolizes our ministry.

    My friend Father Louie Vitalie once told someone: “Christianity is one of many views of God, and in its symbolism, one can find hope in life.”

    Ultimately all religions are one of many streams from God, but in following Jesus, one can experience the mystical body of Christ in each person we meet. Christ becomes flesh in each of us. ; All religions that teach of love of neighbor are streams of the one God.

    The two Matthew’s for me are symbols of the  “Mystical Body of Christ” for in our struggles Christ is present in his love and redemption.

    Jesus calls us to enter into the lives of our fellow brothers and sisters, to take risks, to get our hands dirty, to let them into our lives, even if we are wounded.

    As I read Facebook, and  social media I hear little of the suffering of people on the street, or of others. We are separated from one another. Through the “Mystical Body of Christ,” we know that we are one in life, in suffering, and in death.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!”



    Our work continues. We can not give out hot food or any food cooked at home. We give out fruit bars. We are in need of socks and blankets. Thousands are sleeping on the street, afraid, alone, feeling like they are caught in a set of head lights.

    We have visited with individuals with the virus and this virus is not pretty, it is ugly, painful, and really a terrifying illness. So we are asking for donations! No matter how small! We need socks and blankets!

    Thank you for for your support these years! You have no idea of how much it is appreciated and is comforting to know that we are remembered, and your support brings you on to the streets with us in ministry. Thank you! Thank you!


“Without a sense of the inherent sacredness of the world—in every tiny bit of life and death—we struggle to see God in our own reality, let alone to respect reality, protect it, or love it.” Father Richard Rhor

“For all its presumed innocence, this way of life lived by well-off North Americans is both unjust to those who cannot attain this lifestyle and destructive of the very planet that supports us all. —Sallie McFague “

“We’re the only creature who can decide not to do something we’re capable of doing. That’s our superpower, even if we exercise it too rarely. —Bill McKibben “

“There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.” -Benjamin Franklin

Love People:Cook them tasty Food

May 23, 2020

Love People: Cook Them Tasty Food!

Psalm 136: 1

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!

    I am often asked for recipes, and than I will receive a call saying, “It does not taste as good as yours.” I was taught early to make good food one needs to taste it, and take chances with the ingredients. (My grandmother told me it was a style of southern cooking). I never follow the exact measurements, and if I do not have one ingredient, will substitute another. If it tastes to hot for example I throw in some sugar. The majority of the time it works, but sometimes it does not.

    That is what happens when you do not play by the rules, and walk a crooked road. In loving people to cook them tasty food means to walk that road in which sometimes rules are broken. It works most of the time, but we fail a lot. People do not understand, they make judgments, they turn on you, and we are hurt We can be wounded, but from the healing of the wound comes the resurrection.

    In our early years we had a friend, who worked for the City who always, invariably every time we met would tell us of a rumor and lecture us, and the reality is people make up stories, people talk when you work with people.

     A therapist  friend  told us when we first began our ministry: “You will be standing in the middle of a rail road track with twenty trains coming at you., blurring your eyes.” She was absolutely right.  Our ministry is one of presence, walking with people without judgment. And so we have learned to:

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!– “In loving people you cook them tasty food. “

    Each week we prepare a meal for a family whose parents work   hard. She and her husband have accepted me for me. They had  no idea when they first met is  who the hell I I was,  they knew I had been injured, and their two teenage  boys saw me as their friend.   Their two boys who are now “men”, at least in years,(18 and 20) entered into our  life, without us  seeking them out, and were there in support and care, and their parents followed. We love cooking for them. And I am totally at home with them.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”– “In loving people you cook them tasty food.”

    During the last month or so donations have kept arriving, people have sent supportive emails, phone calls, texts, and snap chat. Many have given to our ministry from the very beginning, through all the craziness of of these years.  We are  reminded with each donation, email, snail mail, and snap chat:

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”– In loving people you cook them tasty food. “

    Try not following the exact recipe–for in doing so you will surprised in the joy that is received!

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


Father River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


A Place in the Sun

May 22, 2020

A Place in the Sun

“He puts poor people on their feet again, he rekindles burned out lives with fresh hope. Restoring dignity and respect to their lives–a place in the sun. I Samuel 2:8a


    I have been ill this week, began running a fever early Sunday morning. I was overwhelmed with fear. The virus is not an easy way to die, it is brutal in the pain, and the dehumanization of the body. Very brutal. If I get the virus I will die, I know that. I simply have a bad cold. I turned my phones off, and have simply read and watched T.V., but the fear and the loneliness continued.

    And in the wrestling with this fear I have found that God “rekindles my  burned out life with fresh hope,” and will  give me a place in the sun.  For Jesus in his compassion warns his disciples that they’re about to find themselves immersed in pain in following him: baffled and heartbroken, in anguish, dramatically out of step with a world that moves on, not giving a damn. But Jesus knows how the story ends: not in anguish, but in joy–a swamping joy no one can take away. In the end we only need to be in step with him.

    We celebrated the Ascension yesterday, which is a mythological expression of Jesus moving into God’s presence and returning in the Holy Spirit–spreading out his love in the world, reminding us that there is “nothing in life nor death that can separate us from the love of God.” Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


Fr. River Damien Sims,sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Embracing Fear and Live Life Well!

May 20, 2020

Embracing Fear and Live Life Well!

“Take my side as you promised: I’ll live then for sure.

Don’t disappoint all my grand hopes!

Psalm 119:116

    Fear can cripple a life. Fear of disease, losing our place in the social stream, fear of losing our friends and so on. We are all well aware of fear. All these fears add up to fearing death, the ultimate fear.

    The thing I have learned through the years is that we should listen to our fears and not over react.

    We look back at our life, and we see all of the wrong roads taken. All of the bad decisions, things I have done wrong (sins), people we have hurt, used, and also all of the good in taking the right road, and see it as an involving process.

    In Dorothy Day: Dissenting Voice of the American  Century authored by John Loughery writes honestly of Dorothy’s life, tells her story of sexual activities in her early life, her impatience, bias, and doubts. This book shows us that Dorothy was an individual who had her leper spots, and as she grew on her journey becomes a saint in reality–broken, scarred  and simply a human being on her journey with God.

    We see our life in the same way–one in progress, with many fears, but embracing that fear and growing in love.

    In embracing fear our lives open to living well.

      The Psalmist in this verse:

“Take my side as you promised: I’ll live then for sure.

Don’t disappoint all my grand hopes!

Psalm 119:116

reminds us that many times our hopes will fail, but in listening, and following God we want be disappointed.

    We had grand plans, our personal dream was a large, and prestigious church with all the benefits.

    Well we see where we are today: living in one room, sharing a bathroom, begging for money, and hanging out for the most part with young adults.

    God has not disappointed for by following his lead we have not been disappointed in our grand hopes. The grand hopes of God is found in service to others, without expecting anything in return.  We have an enormous amount of fears, but by reflecting upon them and not over reacting God allows us to see the way.

    We have not felt well this week,  we are simply exhausted, and think about how we are  aging, and will die,  and simply be forgotten. I wonder if anyone really cares. And as we embrace those fears God comes in remind ing us we are in his hands.

    Our prayers for every one is that we   embrace our fears and by not over reacting, and looking fear straight in the face, we can hear the words of Jesus not to fear, and have a well lived life. Let whatever comes have it’s place and know we will have a grand life. Fear cripples, faith gives us hope.

    St. Francis de Sales shares the secret in dealing with fear and the well-lived life:

Do Not Look forward in Fear

Do not look forward in fear to the changes in life,

rather look  to them with full hope that as they arise God, whose very own you are will lead you safely through all things;

and when you can not stand it,

God will carry you in his arms.

Do not fear what may happen tomorrow;

the same understanding Father who cares for

you today will take care of then and everyday.

He will  either shield  you from suffering or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.

Be at peace, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Sims, sfw, D.Min. D.S.T

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


The Rustling of Hearts

May 19, 2020

The Rustling of Hearts

John 16:5-11

        People see me arguing and sometimes fighting with my friends of all stereotypes (young, old, black white, green, red, blue, gay, straight, or undecided) but my actions speak from one source–parenting.

    There was a time I thought of adopting someone  who had problems at home, and at that time, my supervising counselor for a Master’s program looked me directly in the eye and said: “You have the choice, you can choose the one or the thousands,” the choice was the  “thousands”. 

    In a week of fights, arguing, being talked back to, ignored, and at times hated, I am sometimes surprised with a gift of “sweets”, a moment of reward. This time of relinquishment is one of those sweets.

    Saturday morning I arrived  home exhausted, and  remember little of the previous two days–leaving a friend’s house early because of being  afraid of saying the wrong thing or being rude etc; and sitting with someone who  died of the virus and  taking a young man to the hospital and waiting  for hours. It all goes by now as a blur.

    For I came home and dropped into bed, and remember little. Apparently I picked up a gift for a friend yesterday afternoon, and called the jeweler this morning to ask why I had it in my pocket. I do not remember even talking to the man.

    I find myself exhausted from snap chat, texting, emails, and having difficulty talking about what is seen on the streets, for it is painful and awful. I find myself irritated by the constant advertisements of the beauty of the Stay in Place order when there are thousands who can not “stay in place” because of where they live. I find myself irritated as the talk of “opening” up excites people without concern for the suffering of nearly four hundred thousand people. The past couple of months have been a season of relinquishment, and these present moments  is a season of relinquishment. I can not bring myself to the turn on  my phone. Emotionally and physically drained these days of   relinquishment is  a gift.


    During seasons of relinquishment it can be hard to envision springtime and summer. Jesus disciples must have felt a sense of abandonment when he told them he was going to the Father. Yet Jesus going away cleared space for the Spirit to stir rustling hearts.

    My prayer is for all of us to examine our hearts, and let any residence of winter melt away so that when the Spirit comes in its fullness, our hearts can rustle like new leaves in springtime.

    Three  years ago a friend’s mom gave me a bracelet with the following words inscribed as he and I wrestled with our relationship, as a reminder that all true, meaningful relationships are a struggle, fruit comes from that struggle:

“Seal my soul as you own that your reflection in me may be a light for all too see.”

    Paul writes to the people of Corinth, one plants, another waters, but God gives the growth. Today I am thankful for shoes, acts of love, that find their roots in all of our works, and begins to grow in the grace of God. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


Father River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Truth Shimmers and Squirms and Saves

May 17, 2020

Truth Shimmers and Squirms and Saves

1 Peter 3:15-18 The Message (MSG)

13-18 If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you’re still better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath. It’s better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God.


    Where is Christ in my life? Can he be dying and rising at the same time? The pandemic is leveling off so can we now go back to like we were? There are fewer deaths so now we can go back to normal? “White people don’t like us, so why should we like them? When truth comes solely out of our own experience, the experience of our tribe, race, creed, economic status, sexual orientation, and religion we may turn to our opponents with the condescending attitude that “if you were not so sinful, stupid, or wounded you would see all this and agree with me.”

    I have some friends who are Hispanic in origin, all their friends are Hispanic, accept for me, and when they go off on their white brothers I will remind them of the color of my skin, and their response is: ‘Oh, you are only colored white, you are like us,” which is the highest of compliments, for they mean that I understand them and treat them as peers; on the other hand I have been told that I am a “chameleon”, not in a very complementary manner.

    My prayer is that I am a chameleon in finding the truth, for the truth shimmers and squirms and saves–it is not black and white.

    Yesterday I spent the afternoon with some of my young friends in Marin, just hearing them talk of whatever; last night I sat with a young person as he died from the the virus. This virus is not about figures, numbers, it is about pain, a killer that dehumanizes through its pain and isolation. Death in any form is never pretty, for we all die alone; but this is a death that separates and dehumanizes individuals. This virus leaves unseen scars on survivors and society, scars that will linger for years. We need to look it in the eye, face it, live with it, and not hide from it.

    I was called to the Haight as I went to bed, a young man was screaming, wanting to kill himself, he was afraid, and ultimately had to be taken to the hospital, which was a dehumanizing process; when I go to Kaiser, I am treated like royalty, but he has no money, insurance, and is a street kid.

    I had been in all week because of a cold and had to be tested, and one of my friends yesterday kept asking me, “you are sure you don’t have that virus”, and I snapped–“I am not the one running around with all of my friends in a car all over Marin City and the Richmond without a mask,” so  what about you am I safe.”

    I suppose we can set out to seek the truth, to be truthful,but such aspects of searching are likely to be unsuccessful. Truth is not something we seize upon, but rather most often it leaps out from bushes in dark alleys when we are not looking and grabs us by the throat. It seizes us out of the clutches of misery or pride. Truth teases us in our dreams. It will not be manipulated, cogitated or collated by the human mind.

    Jesus said he was the truth and that we should know it and we would be set free. Jesus is like a chameleon. He is not labeled, controlled, stereotyped, but shimmers, squirms, and saves. In his life he demonstrates that truth suffers disbelief, hurts, and dies. And in the end truth saves–on its terms, in its time. Deo Gratias!


Fr. River Sims

P. O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164