March 22, 2017



I am always asked “What do you do?”  I simply listen.   With every plate of food, every pair of socks given–I simply listen.

Listening requires us to listen with our whole being–our heart, mind and soul. This is the greatest act of loving we can give–to listen. For to listen is to respond in love.

For a few moments reflect upon what would happen if you would stop reading face book, listening to the twenty four hour news channel,  and   being concerned with the act of what you are doing, and simply listen, how much peace and contentment you would bring to another and to yourself.  And when we listen we enter into the life of another–and they simply become human beings on the same journey, with different paths. Listening breaks down all barriers.

Listening is the greatest gift we can give another. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min. candidate

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Walking Upside Down

March 18, 2017

Walking Upside Down

Luke 15:1-3; 11-32

…”he was lost and he has been found. .”

There is a delightful animated film about a small boy who learned to walk on his hands instead of his feet.  The story stresses the pressures toward conformity in our society.  The little boy’s strange behavior had the most pleasant results for him. Walking on his hands gave him a radically different perspective on the world.  He could smell the flowers without bending down.  He was close to the earth so that he could see vividly the beauty of grass, and he met the butterfly eyeball to eyeball as it skimmed along the ground. But his parents were deeply distressed.  Their darling child was a misfit!  So they took him first to a medical doctor, then to a psychiatrist, and then to a social worker.  All of the newest theories were employed to change the little boy’s behavior.  Gradually  he was made to learn to walk like all other humans–on his feet.  The parents were relieved; the doctors, social workers, and others who had helped were proud of their success.  But now the little boy began to see the world as others saw it: dirty, ugly, polluted, and filled with persons obediently doing what was expected of them.  His short-lived posture that had enabled him to appreciate more easily the beauty of the world was ended. Now he was like everyone else.

This parable illustrates the manner in which conformity is of the highest priority in our society. It also suggests the way in which nonconformist positions in religion are made to fit into the mainstream of thought.  It suggests how we expect people to move, act, and live within our mindset.

Jesus walked on his hands. He saw people as children of God regardless of social position, the color of their skin, their race, what they wore or did not wear, and their religion. They were children of God.  He called people with money to share, to provide for those who did not have.  He was crucified for walking on his hands. And God having the final say, raised Jesus, and  continue to calls each of us to walk on our hands as well. To smell the flowers, the earth and to look into the eyes of the butterfly.  Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


Father River Damien, sfw

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Join In Prayer for Trans Justice

March 17, 2017

I could live without…



Weekend of Prayer

March 24-26

Join Faith Communities

Across the Country

In Praying For Transgender Justice

Observe Weekend of Prayer


Gen. 37:12-13 a, 17 b-28 a  Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46


Joseph was a dreamer; Jesus was a dreamer. Jesus dreamed of justice, mercy, love for all. He went to the cross, and rose again.  Jesus calls us to dream–to dream of a world where there are no judgments around gender, sexual orientation, race, creed or color. Where there are no boundaries between countries, but where all share and care for one another.   Dreaming means that we see reality first of all.

The reality we are confronted with is that Transgender individuals are persecuted, ignored, and avoided by a majority of people. They never have an equal footing with the queer community.
We turn an eye to their struggle, rather than walk with them.

Next weekend let us remind our churches, our faith groups to Join in Prayer for  Trans Justice; let us remind everyone to write and email all levels of government about transgender rights; and let each one of us open our eyes to  those rights, and to the individuals in our midst who are struggling and welcome them into our fellowship with open arms and hearts. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min. candidate

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

Terrifying Freedom

March 16, 2017


Luke 16:19-31

This novel is the story of a nun, Rebecca, who moved from the confines of a controlling church, which sought to control through belief, structure, and relationships to the terrifying freedom of being her own self.  She moved outside the box. She embraced her individuality, at the cost of rejection by her church, her mother, and friends. This came through her work with the poor of Appalachia and walking with them where they are.  Rebecca experienced the terrifying freedom of resurrection on her journey. Her story is the story of growing up, of becoming mature.

This is my birthday month. Birthdays for me mark a time to reflect on the past year. It is not about moving towards  the end of the journey, for the journey continues beyond death into eternity.

I do not believe in revealing my age. On Mars I would be twenty two, so age is relative, and this year on my twenty second birthday, therefore I will reflect on the journey. It has been a terrifying journey for in moving into the freedom of life–you leave behind those things that bring security–beliefs, structures, and friends. It is moving into the “wilderness”.  In hanging out with street youth I have embraced my “wildness”, for they have taught me so much about being a human. I have no trust for the system that is destructive, I question all and in so doing I experience the risen Christ in  my life as the  “Wild Goose.”  He calls me, he calls all of us to follow him to find real freedom.

In the past year there have been attempts on my life, which have left scars both mentally and physically, I have had friends (or were they ever friends)  who simply stop speaking to me, I have lost donors, I have been rejected, pilloried and hated, and in so doing I have grown, and the definition for maturity that has grown from these experiences is expressed in these words:

“Maturity is growing into seeing others simply as fellow creatures on the journey of life–without regard to the color of their skin, their religion, sexual orientation, or boundaries of where they live–seeing them simply as fellow travelers. Maturity is sharing of what we have so that all will have what they need.” (Fr. River Damien Sims)

Freedom is terrifying as hell–but it is life breathed into our souls, each and every moment.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min. candidate

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Behind the Thunder by Mark Nepo

I keep looking for one more teacher,

only to find that fish learn from water and birds from the sky.

If you want to learn about the sea,

it helps to be at sea,

if you want to learn about compassion,

it helps to be in love.

If you want to learn about healing,

it helps to know suffering.

The strong live in the storm

without worshiping the storm.

In the Mists of the Night

March 12, 2017

In the Mists of the Night

Matthew 17:1-9

The night is scary for most people; after midnight the streets become scary or so people think; in Golden Gate Park it is against the law to be in the Park after sundown.  At that time of night scary people come out–the homeless, drug addicts, prostitutes.  In the Park youth lay down to sleep the best they can, or huddle around a fire, keeping watch for the police.  And I work and function best at this time of night. For those “scary” people are God’s children, they are the spit-ten image of the face of God.  In the mists of the night the Transfiguration of Christ burns brightly.

Jamie and Bambi are nineteen, they are “night people,”, when in reality they are travelers around the country, and find it safer to be up at night. Their photo is of two beautiful people–not “scary people.”

This Lent let us see the Transfiguration of Jesus in all of our lives, and in all the people we meet, rather than judging by religion, the time of day they are up, their economic status, their race, creed, or sexual orientation.  Each person we meet is the face the transfigured face of Jesus.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Week 3 Activity: Well of Life
This activity invites you to explore the Baptismal Covenant in prayer and reflection during your day and throughout the week. Each morning, write a short prayer based on that day’s question from the Baptismal Covenant. Each evening, reflect on how you are living into this aspect of your faith.

Lenten Exercise

March 11, 2017
I invite you this week to use the “Listening Hand” Activity to reflect on your your Lenten Journey and talk about it on Facebook:
Week 2 Activity: Listening Hand
Who has been a channel of God’s grace for you? In conversation or over email this week, reach out to five people to find out how they came to know God’s love. How does the Good News shape the way they live? Reflect on how you are inspired by their witness and examples.



The Shadow land of Ministry

March 11, 2017

The Shadow land of Ministry

Matthew 5:43-47

“You are familiar with the old written law, “Love your friend,” and its unwritten companion, “Hate your enemy.” I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies.  Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst.. .In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects.  Now live like it. Live out your God created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives towards you.”

Tonight I was awaken from a deep sleep by the sound of the phone. At the end was voice of  a young man I had met on the train going to L.A. several months ago. I saw him trying to find food in a waste basket and I invited him to dinner in the dining car. He had broken up with his girlfriend and was going home.  Lance was severely depressed broke and hungry, and I listened for hours and gave him my card. He was calling, depressed and lonely, from southern cal, and I listened.

As I listened I thought of how I live in the shadow land of ministry.  Twenty two years ago a priest who worked with AID’S patients told me that my ministry would be one of “getting dirty”, that by being immersed in the life of street youth that stories would be told both good and bad, that I would never be clean, but “dirty for the Lord,” and than later another person said, “You will be like a person in the middle of a railroad track with many trains coming at you.”

And many trains come toward me, as I live in the shadows. And as those trains come, I see the faces of Lance, Lake, Sandy, and so many more I have listened to, and that makes it all worth it for  in the shadows I hear Jesus calling me to follow him  into Galilee and I follow and in following there are no shadows.  I have learned to love my enemies, for they point me towards the Kingdom.

“Seek first the reign of God and all else will fall in,” and so it does

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



Life Is About Relinquishment

March 10, 2017

“Women represent the triumph of matter over mind, just as men represent the triumph of mind over morals.”– Oscar Wilde


Matthew 5:20-26

Life is about dying daily to our old self, it is about relinquishment.  Moaning, grieving is about relinquishment. Throughout our social media, our newspaper and twenty four hour news cycle there is continued moaning and grieving, the old is passing. I have moaned and grieved over the San Francisco I moved into nearly twenty three years ago; I run into guys, whom I knew in their twenties, come back to Polk Street, now in their 40’s trying to relive  lives that are  no more.

Recently someone sent me a photo of  my days in prostitution  in L.A. commenting, “You were a pretty boy,” well that “pretty boy” is long gone. We always fight against relinquishment–if not queers, than Muslims, then immigrants, and after all of these we will find new candidates. We do not want to give up what we treasure.

Easter laughs at the  fear of relinquishment and opens the gate to the God who treats all equally, with love, without regard to boundaries. Today when we Vigil Against the Death Penalty at 305 McAllister Street, at 11:00 a.m. we are laughing against death and saying yes to life. For with relinquishment comes new life, always.

The prayer of Walt Brueggeman is a prayer for us during this time of relinquishment:

“Strengthen us to relinquish the old world, O God, that we might receive the gift of hope and joy on the other side of grief. Amen.

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min. candidate\

Temenos Catholic Worker/Franciscans Against the Death Penalty

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

Ask And You Shall Receive

March 9, 2017


Ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find.
—Matthew 7:7

This Gospel reading is paired with the story of Esther. “Now help me,” Esther cries out, prostrate, “who am alone and have no one but you, O LORD, my God!” We know how her story ends. Help comes and her people are saved. And that is what we always want when we plead with God. We want real, physical change, fortunes and diseases reversed. But the last words of Esther’s prayer help me think of help coming in a different way. Still pleading, she says, “Turn . . . our sorrows into wholeness.” She could have said “into joy,” but she said “wholeness.” And that is exactly the aim of salvation, to make us whole. The process is slower than we’d like, but it is happening nonetheless, day by day, sorrow by sorrow.
We turn to the 700 Club, and other sites where evangelist’s perform miracles and we asked “Why does not God heal me or my loved ones?”  “Why does God allow all the pain we see on the streets and in our world?” We put all the work on God in our own self-centered way.

Wholeness comes slowly, it comes with hard work. Jesus reached out beyond his own people, tradition, extending himself to the “other’.  We must reach out beyond our own social circle, race, gender, sexual orientation, and economic level and move into loving each other. It’s lonely work, it’s painful work.

I was asked yesterday why I do not burn out? For one thing it is not about me. I have moved away from the terms of “burn out”, and “codependency” simply because these terms stem from our own self-selfcenteredness and fear of truly interacting and feeling the pain of another. It hurts like hell, really hurts, to see people living in tents in the midst of wealth, to see people enslaved to drugs–it hurts, and I suffer, but in that suffering I move towards wholeness.

Wholeness is a process slowly but slowly we work at, and in that process we grow, we become real, and whole.  Scott Peck wrote that “life is difficult and once we accept that fact we can live,” that is the process of wholeness–acknowledging that life is difficult and moving into loving our brothers and sisters in meeting their needs, and making their lives less difficult. There is so much joy on this journey!

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr.River Damien Sims, sfw

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Finding God in Within

March 9, 2017



Finding God Within

Jonah 3:1-10; Luke 11:289-32

Jonah converted Nineveh  by his godliness and his preaching not by miracles.  Jesus tells us the supreme commandment is to “Love the Lord our God with all of our mind, strength and soul, and our neighbor as we love ourselves.”

Tom Fox, a volunteer with Christian Peacemaker  Teams, former war veteran, was killed in 2006 in Iraq.  He said of his work: “We are to stop people, including ourselves, from dehumanizing God’s children, no matter how much they dehumanize their own souls.”

Recently I was invited to have a table at an event, but was told, “Please do not bring any of your homeless youth for volunteers, they disturb people’s sensitivities.” I will not table at that event because those words dehumanized me, and my kids, and what is really sad, is it’s leaders do not understand what a dehumanizing request they gave.

Through out the world–from Sudan to Syria people are dying of starvation, and young children are suffering PTSD and other psyche problems that will shape the world in the years to come. We whistle merrily by, closing our eyes and our hearts.

Jesus loves us wherever we are. In the story of the flood and the rain bow we see God’s anger turn from anger to mercy, for God ultimately always responds in love, and compassion for all.

We are called to do the same–to love with an open heart, and mind and soul, regardless of how people dehumanize their own souls. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164