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

Our web site has been changed to a new server it is much easier to go directly to Pay Pal and give directly through your Pay Pal account





August 13, 2018

I have hanging  a beautiful piece of art painted by a lady who admires our work. It is of a painting of a bleeding heart, with the words “counselor” and the phrase, “Love endures,” written across.

I am reminded it now, as many of us weather a season of loss, life transitions, and letting go. This season is difficult, painful, and one in which we wonder if there is any hope and if we can make it. Life is changing, and it is scary. The print reminds me of the communion of saints, in which we all share the timeless mystery of God’s love for each of us.

These are times which call us to go deeply into that communion of energy in prayer, loving servce, and a contemplation.

St. Tikhon of Zadonsk in the seventeenth century said:

“No longer should our brothers and sisters be seen wandering the roads and in the squares, starving and trembling with the cold, under the icy north wind, naked members of the Body of Christ. .There ought to be beggars and destitute persons no longer. All should be equal.”

Change and care come from a one on one approach to personally caring for others, and moves out like ripples in water to a larger ocean. We are joined together in the Mystery of Love and Life.

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



August 11, 2018

As the sun leaves, rippling layers of fog

along the ridge, begin to join us, will come
right down to the blanket’s edge, there
throughout the night, watching us breathe.
Settled, then suggests no need
to authenticate by reference to anything
other than itself—the poem, its words.
Summer leaves
carry present
Take note of the pause
holding the courtyard, and the chill
that drafts the window, rounds bared feet
and ankles, draws attention to bamboo leaves’
gentle affirmation.


Meditations from the slow lane

Stereotyping and Bullying

August 4, 2018


Stereotypes and Bullying

“F-E-A-R has two meanings:

Forget everything And Run


Face Everything and Rise

The choice is yours”

There is a story of a man in Northern Missouri who bullied people in a small town for many years. He could be charming, and when a person would not give him what he wanted he would use stereotypes such as calling him “old” “lazy”,  “faggot”,  “nigra”, and so on, and run the person down until he gave in, and than walk away ashamed, he shamed him through stereotypes and used stereotypes as a means of separating himself from the person and not see the person   as a human being.

He would hit people or threaten them.He would cut them off  half-way in a conversation when the person disagreed with him and ultimately reject the person.

One  day in broad daylight, in the middle of the street, he was murdered, and to this day no one has ever been arrested.

One young United Methodist minister, new to the town was the only clergy who would have his funeral and  minister to the family, the rest were afraid. From that experience that young minister learned two things.

First to withhold judgment, to treat every one equally, for it is God’s place to judge, and to serve the living;

Secondly to never tolerate bullies.

“F-E-A-R has two meanings:

Forget everything And Run


Face Everything and Rise

The choice is yours”

Bullying comes in many forms. Withdrawing support when one  does not get one’s way; being unwilling to listen, simply to shut the person down, unless one gets one’s  way;  negative gossip; stereotyping: labeling a person old, a faggot, a nigra, a dim wit, a dumb ass, and so on. It comes in always  having to have  the last word, regardless of whether we are right or wrong, in controlling relationships, and the living habits of people, it come in not letting people be who they are.

We  deal with that person, and the bullying  by facing our own fears, our  own need for their approval, our own loneliness and neediness, and rising and simply saying “No”, and then walk away saying good bye. If a person continues to come than we fight, and we fight hard,win or lose.  If they threaten to walk away–we say “goodbye”. We never tolerate being put down, or threatened again. Loneliness ends when we learn to love ourselves, and loving one’s self starts by standing up for one’s self, and than move into loving others.

We can love the person with all of our heart,but when they hurt us, knowing they hurt us, it is time to let go, and say good bye,  and when through the grace of Jesus Christ they change, we can talk and enter into a new relationship, but we also must know that the chances are few and far between for those changes to occur , so we move on, kicking the dust off our feet, into a new life.

Dr. River Damien Sims

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Eating on the Sabbath

July 20, 2018


Eating on the Sabbath

Mt.  12:1-8 Common English Bible (CEB)

Working on the Sabbath

12 At that time Jesus went through the wheat fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry so they were picking heads of wheat and eating them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are breaking the Sabbath law.”

But he said to them, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and those with him were hungry? He went into God’s house and broke the law by eating the bread of the presence, which only the priests were allowed to eat. Or haven’t you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple treat the Sabbath as any other day and are still innocent? But I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what this means, I want mercy and not sacrifice,[a] you wouldn’t have condemned the innocent. The Human One[b] is Lord of the Sabbath.”


“Eating on the Sabbath”, such a sin, such a wrong. Jesus always ate on the Sabbath, he broke the conventional of rules of loving the the ungodly, and of walking and living with the “sinners”. He challenged the status quo of his day, as he challenges us to come out of our tribes and love one another with out bias. 

That is the Jesus we fell in love with in our teens through our  heroes of the Berrigan brothers, Dorthy Day, and Mother Teresa.

To us their way of life is what the Church is about–feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, burying the dead, and challenging the powers of society. Living that way comes with a high cost–sometimes your very life.

In our last evaluation before we received our  M.Div. degree my advisor told me:

“River, you have a great gift, to allow young people to enter into your life, in such way they feel one with you, but that will come with a cost, and that cost will determine who you are.”

And it has come with misunderstanding , hated, being called names and it is determining who I am.  A woman wrote in the beginning of our ministry: ” You will be like a deer caught in the headlights of 20 trains coming at you.” And we have been and are.

Maybe wrongly, but we believe there is a mixture of right in the way we work, we work on the Sabbath, we hang  with youth, with homeless, with any one who is on the outside of society, by letting them enter our  life and become a part of it. We become friends.

These past months through injury, through illness, and pain we  have come face to face with the reality of the the way we work, and we know we can do no other. It has been a lonely time.

Our best friends are younger than we are, but they are there. Is that wrong? Depends on the perspective  you view this from:  the Sabbath perspective, or from the perspective of Jesus, the same with hanging out late at night in Golden Gate Park, or going to a teen party at China Camp or wearing “different clothes” than “adults” wear–from the Sabbath perspective or the  perspective of Jesus but I am coming down to the perspective of this poem:

“Love After Love”

The day will come

the time will come

when with elation

you will greet yourself

arriving at your own door

and each will smile at each other’s welcome

saying sit here, eat

you will love again the stranger who was yourself.

Give wine, give bread

give back your heart to yourself

to the stranger who has loved you all your life

who you ignored for another

who knows you by heart.

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes

find your own image in the mirror, see it

Feast on your life.

Derek Walcott

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


It Is Not About Us

July 17, 2018

It Is Not About Us!

It’s not about us. It’s about God, who created and redeemed us, and who sustains our life day by day. We have been created by God and for God, and we will find our deepest joy and satisfaction when we live in union with God.

-Br. David Vryhof

It is never about us, but always about God. When it becomes about us, we shrivel up and die.

There is a quote: “Be like Jesus: Spend time with sinners to ruin your reputation with religious people.”

There is another quote which says: “Find a tribe and get in it forever.”

The problem with “finding your tribe”, is it narrows our vision, it limits how we perceive life. That limitation becomes destructive to one’s self and to others. When we look at things from God we have a universal outlook. It is easy to be in a tribe, we do not get hurt as often.Stay in our  race, age group, socio economic group, we stay safe and miss out on loving people.

Sinners are people who break boundaries, live outside the tribal expectations. Real sin is when we hurt people–physically and emotionally. Religious people stay in their tribes, and in those tribes they point their fingers in judgment and condemnation, forgetting that they have four fingers pointing back at them.  Those four fingers have much to say to each of us.But in the criticism with the one finger we lose a part of ourselves, a part that gives meaning to life.

Our labels are our tribes, they are good in some respects, but when we use them to criticize and condemn they hurt and destroy. For example referring to someone as “old” or as “just a kid”, limits, it puts a circle around that person rather than appreciating the beauty of the person.

Our lives are constantly changing, and never the same, and so to stand back without judgment allows us to appreciate all of life.Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr.River Damien Sims, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


The Yoke of Christ

July 12, 2018

The Yoke of Christ

Matthew 11:28-30 Common English Bible (CEB)

28 “Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. 29  Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves. 30  My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light.”

People are struggling every where–on the streets, in their homes, everywhere, and I am struggling, and in that struggle Jesus says to us to “Put on my yoke,” and the yoke he calls us to put on is that of love–love of our neighbor and of ourselves.

We live in a society that is constantly taking, San Francisco is the second most expensive City in the world, where people are pushed out into the streets, pushed into doing with out because of the constant need of everyone from the the richest to the poorest.

The yoke of love calls us to give, and in giving we find rest for ourselves and others find rest.  Our possessions fade away. Things that I wanted a year ago I no longer desire. Our relationships change, and only in giving can we truly find ourselves and in giving people will eat, be housed, have support for their mental illness, be clothed, and  the giving will return to us in so many ways. We will be content.

Let us detach ourselves and see life as constantly passing and only by wearing he yoke of love can we truly have meaning and purpose in life. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

Dirt Under Our Fingers!

July 11, 2018


Matthew 10:1-7

We all have dirt under our fingers. When Jesus was raised from the dead, he was dirty, he had dirty under his fingers. We are human beings who strive to do better, but we constantly fail–we want our on way, we demand, and we hurt, and we try.  There are resurrections each day, but like Lazarus we die again, only until all is brought to wholeness in Christ do we truly rise from the dead.

Last night late I received a phone call with a strange voice saying: “You m.. f loving the fags, and the murderers, that ain’t right, you need to die,” or something like that. I lay there awake the rest of the night and the only thought that came through my mind was that as we move through our days we need to try to live out the words of St. Francis (the words attributed to him) to the best of our  abilities, for I know I am a screw up, and I have dirt under my fingers and I can try:

“Lord, make me and instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness light; where there is sadness, joy. O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life. Amen.

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min,.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


The Infinite Strength of Divine Love

July 8, 2018

The Infinite Strength of Divine Love

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 Common English Bible (CEB)

I was given a thorn in my body because of the outstanding revelations I’ve received so that I wouldn’t be conceited. It’s a messenger from Satan sent to torment me so that I wouldn’t be conceited.

I pleaded with the Lord three times for it to leave me alone. He said to me, “My grace is enough for you, because power is made perfect in weakness.” So I’ll gladly spend my time bragging about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power can rest on me. 10 Therefore, I’m all right with weaknesses, insults, disasters, harassment’s, and stressful situations for the sake of Christ, because when I’m weak, then I’m strong.

Mark 6 Common English Bible (CEB)

Jesus in his hometown

Jesus left that place and came to his hometown. His disciples followed him. On the Sabbath, he began to teach in the synagogue. Many who heard him were surprised. “Where did this man get all this? What’s this wisdom he’s been given? What about the powerful acts accomplished through him? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t he Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” They were repulsed by him and fell into sin.

Jesus said to them, “Prophets are honored everywhere except in their own hometowns, among their relatives, and in their own households.” He was unable to do any miracles there, except that he placed his hands on a few sick people and healed them. He was appalled by their disbelief.


We all have things that hinder us, we all have a pasts that haunts us, and we all are afraid to interact with our fellow human beings. Social media has made it easy for us to become familiar with each other in such away we say things that are painful, destructive.

Br. David Vryhof says: “If you can recall words that hurt you, you can probably also recall words that sustained you, encouraged you, lifted you up.  Words have power, power to create and power to destroy, power to bless and power to curse, power to heal and power to hurt.”

Words have power.  And as we use our words we should remember how much power we have. The words of Jesus were of love, love of God and neighbor. 

In the Bay area homelessness is increasing and is at a crisis point. In Silicon Valley their are families working living in their cars and tents; in San Francisco, we have met dozens of families forced out of their apartments, and can not afford another place to live, living in their cars and on the streets and working; in the Santa Cruz area the same story.

It is time we open our houses and pocket books to provide for those without housing.  Many are simply hampered by the high rents in the Bay Area, that soon will be a place for the wealthy. There are three of us in my building who pay cheap rent, when we are gone, the average rent will be far above the reach of people with average incomes.

I have a friend in Silicon Valley with a large house who just recently took in two families who lost their housing. She is an example of what we all should do.

People are downright painful, they judge, they say things that hurt, that can destroy, but in each person is the broken body of Christ and when we touch that brokenness the love of Christ will come forth. Let us bring that love forth in our actions towards others. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


July 4, 2018


Matthew 8:28-34 Common English Bible (CEB)

Jesus frees demon-possessed men

28 When Jesus arrived on the other side of the lake in the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed came from among the tombs to meet him. They were so violent that nobody could travel on that road. 29 They cried out, “What are you going to do with us, Son of God? Have you come to torture us before the time of judgment?” 30 Far off in the distance a large herd of pigs was feeding. 31 The demons pleaded with him, “If you throw us out, send us into the herd of pigs.”

32 Then he said to the demons, “Go away,” and they came out and went into the pigs. The whole herd rushed down the cliff into the lake and drowned. 33 Those who tended the pigs ran into the city and told everything that had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 Then the whole city came out and met Jesus. When they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.


There is a sign on the site where the Solitary Monrey lives at the Oakland Zoo,which says: “This Solitary Merkat was ostracized from our green monkey troop. You will often find her staring intensely  past the merkat exhibit at her old troop and sometimes even communicating with them by vocalizations.”

This is the way I have been feeling for months, and now after an incident more so. I have made decisions that people have turned on me because they disagreed, I have been sick and frankly acted out in pain and have apologized, and no response.

The mission of Jesus transcends all boundaries.  He is not afraid to go to the other side–the land of the Gentiles–where the Jews would normally go. 

I have been told I am “radical”, and the fact is I hate labels, I literally hate them.  We use them to fence people in, we use age, race, sexual orientation, and religious grief to fence people in. I able for the most part to cross these boundaries, and in so doing I get labels put on me. 

I am good with people, but there comes a certain point when you pushed me so far I push back.

I have been knocked back lately over stuff I simply do not understand, I simply do not understand, and I am not broken, but I am cracked, and there is so much pain, so much pain.

I am the Solitary Merkat and I wonder how many more are out there.  My commitment to Christ is never in question. With out him I would have been dead a long time ago, but my question for myself is: “How much more can I take? And then what?” That is the question I listen to a thousand times every day of my life–and you know what, I have no answers, all I can do is listen.

Frankly I am asking myself: “What the fu..k?”

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164