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




What Matters? Faith Working Through Love!

October 16, 2018

What Matters? “Faith Working Through Love!”

“Being circumcised (being rich or poor, white, red, brown or black; being Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian) or uncircumcised doesn’t matter, but faith working through love. Galatians 5:6”

Spirit Day
Thursday, October 18, 2018
Support LGTBQ Youth, Straight Youth, and Adults
by Speaking out Against Bullying
Do So by wearing Purple, putting Avatars on Social Media, and get involved in other Activities
More Info:
The ability of so many people to live comfortably with the idea of homelessness, and bullying  is perhaps a clue to how so many Europeans were able to live with the idea of the Holocaust: Once you turn your eyes away from the streets, from the alleys, from your neighbors, and once you turn yourself so inward  that what is so  important is only yourself, you are  halfway there.  We have an empathy deficit in our society.  Homelessness is a number, and we hold on to what we have, and turn our eyes away and our eyes become blind to the humanity of people.
Faith unites us in love. All of the great religions tell us to love one another, and Jesus lived out that love in his life to the point of going to the cross.
Faith unites us in love of our fellow human beings. Dr. Will Tuttle tells us that “Evolution implies not only change but transformation. In world mythology, when heroes refuse the call to leave home to take the evolutionary journey, they become sick. For us as a culture it is the same.”  
We are in need of a “Kindness Movement” an “Our Too Movement”, where we come together in empathy for all and in doing so  changing our attitude from numbers to people, from fear to courage, from ourselves to others,  and in so doing we would see the ripples of caring and love flow into a mighty river.
Thursday, October 18 is “Spirit Day” designated during National Bullying Prevention month (October)  as a day to show support for LGTBQ youth and to speak out against bullying. I see this as a day for us to show support for all youth, and as a day to speak out against bullying in all areas of our society.
Let our faith work through love to bring us out of our “empathy deficit”, and see the pain, the fear, and the need on our door steps, our alleys, and let us not walk by with blinders on our eyes, but with love in our actions and mouth. Let us become the hands, the voice, and the feet of Christ moving in service. Let us become Christ on the streets, in our schools, our homes, churches, and places we work. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!
Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164

Active Love

October 14, 2018

Active Love

Hebrews 4:12-13 Common English Bible (CEB)

12″ because God’s word is living, active, and sharper than any two-edged sword. It penetrates to the point that it separates the soul from the spirit and the joints from the marrow. It’s able to judge the heart’s thoughts and intentions. 13 No creature is hidden from it, but rather everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of the one to whom we have to give an answer”

Leo Tolstoy  summarizes the way life  should be viewed.

“The most difficult thing, but an essential one

is to love life, to love it even while one suffers.

Because life is all. Life is God.

And to love life means to love God.”

To love life means to respect life in all of its forms, and  to give our lives away by loving others.

When I was twelve years old I felt my heart strangely touched, warmed during a campfire, and in that moment I heard the voice of God calling me to ministry, and promising to be there with me through all that was to come. I placed my hand on the plow, and I never looked back.

And he has kept his promise. Through years of doubt, pain, through the attempts on my life the threats that come regularly, and through the pain of rejection, God remains present. I do not expect God to keep me from pain, from fear, from rejection, from hate, and the anger so often expressed towards me. What God provides is my daily bread, sometimes one meal, other days three. 

God will not erase homelessness, but I see God’s love presence, as each person shows their love for another, caring, and taking care of each other.  God journeys with the fifty boys and girls who will be sleeping in the doorways I saw today.  God journeys with a young man who sleeps in his car every night, who works at Sub way, and struggles each day with his doubts, fears, and rejection by his family. I talk with him on snap chat every day and he wonders why I expect nothing from him.

We are given today, and that is all we are accountable for. In my darkest times I remember the fire in my heart  on that cool summer night, and hear the voice, “Go preach,” and I continue to preach through walking with my friends  in school, out of school, on the streets.. The word of God is active, and pushes me on. And my heart still burns with fire.

Dr. Will Tuttle wrote: “Our love, to actually be love, must be acted upon and lived. Developing our capacity for love is not only the means of evolution; it is the end as well, and when we fully embody love, we will know the truth of our oneness with all life. This makes us free.”

Only in active love will we find wholeness. Only by moving from our own dependence on boundaries and labels for giving money, for loving the poor, for loving people of different colors, sexual orientation, creeds, and religions, will we be truly. By love Will means our actions of care and concern. Our giving to others, talking to others.There are people, who have truly hurt me emotionally and physically, and I have found only in loving them, biting my tongue as I do, that there is wholeness. Letting go of the past we move into the future. Hell, none of this is  easy, it is the hardest work we ever do.  Life is not easy, life is hell, but in living to our fullest we love God and God works through us to show love for others.  In loving others we see the face of God, we find wholeness. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


you may give through pay pal on the website.

Remembering Matthew Shepherd

October 13, 2018

Remembering Matthew Shepherd

“Jesus looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come follow me.” At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.” Mark 10:17-30

Twenty years ago today Matthew Shepherd was beaten, and tied to a fence, and died the next morning. He has been immortalized, demonized, glorified, and and hated through the years since his death. Matthew Shepherd  has become every man

The shadow within each one of us is a vital and a force we cannot deny, or repress. The tremendous psychological forces required to kill a person, to avoid the pain in human beings on the street, and in the animals around us works in two ways. First it numbs, desensitizes, and armors us, which decreases our intelligence and ability to make connections. Secondly it forces us to act exactly as what we are oppressing through our projection on others. We create a target with the very qualities we refuse to acknowledge in ourselves. (Adapted from  from Will Tuttle).

The life of Matthew Shepherd calls us to examine ourselves and at the shadow we each carry within us. When we project our anger on people homeless, different from ourselves, what are we really saying about our selves? When we refuse to forgive others for their hurting us, and demonize them, and carry the pain around for years, what are we saying about ourselves?

Matthew represents the hundreds of mostly young men, I have served through the years, whose lives were twisted and destroyed by the shadows that  others placed on them in dealing with their sexual orientation, their race, and their place in the world. 

I look at Matthew, and then I look at myself, and see where my shadow hurts, and has hurt people. Today as we remember Matthew Shepherd let us hear his voice on the windswept prairie as he is dying, crying out, “Look at me, love me, accept me.” and open our hearts to selling everything we have and opening our hearts to everyone and give to the poor in spirit, in material need, and in spiritual need. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

you may give through pay pal on the website


Walking Our Path

October 9, 2018

Walking Our Path

“We make our path by walking it.” Latin American Church quote.

“All the Law has been fulfilled in a single statement: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour each other, be careful that you don’t get eaten up by each other.” Galatians 4:17-18

Over the weekend I was hanging with some friends, and they are Hispanic, and one made a statement he thought might have offended me, and apologized, a statement that we might take as racist– directed toward us whites. I laughed, because the reality is I feel at home with them, and they with me.They can say anything to me and I will not take it personally.They see me as a part of their “team” and talk freely.  I see in their daily lives, at school, on the sport teams, and in social gatherings they often experience racism, all underneath. The same with prejudice towards homeless people, hid, but the prejudice comes out.

The words that we speak, our gestures, our attitude, our lack of  recognition makes “our paths.”  In the words of the Eucharistic invitation: “See who you are Become who you see.”

“We make our paths by walking it.”  So if we walk a path in which we use words of compassion, rather than hatred, have actions of care, and concern towards all we encounter, and embrace the words: “Love your neighbor as yourself,” we will find wholeness in our lives, but if  we live our lives spewing words of anger, hatred, and promote violence in word and deed, if we live our lives based on racial, political division, we will “devour each other”, be eaten by each other.” We are all a creation of the love of God. We are not black or white, red, brown, or in between, we are not Democrat or Republican, we are not rich or poor, but sons of daughters of God, and in that relationship we expect only our daily bread, we forgive, and we share with each other so that none go homeless or without food and care. God’s creation comes first!

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos. org


paypal is found on

Breaking Bread Together

October 4, 2018

The Breaking of Bread

Luke 9:57-62 Common English Bible (CEB)

Following Jesus

57 As Jesus and his disciples traveled along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and the birds in the sky have nests, but the Human One[a] has no place to lay his head.”

59 Then Jesus said to someone else, “Follow me.”

He replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead. But you go and spread the news of God’s kingdom.”

61 Someone else said to Jesus, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say good-bye to those in my house.”

62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand on the plow and looks back is fit for God’s kingdom.”


Henri Nouwen wrote: “”The two disciples whom Jesus joined on the road to Emmaus recognized him in the breaking of bread.  What is a more common, ordinary gesture than breaking bread? It may be the most human of all human gestures: a gesture of hospitality, friendship, care, and the desire to be together. Taking a loaf of bread, blessing it, breaking it, and giving it to those seated around the table signifies unity, community, and peace. When Jesus does this he does the most ordinary as well as the most ordinary. It is the most human as well as the most divine gesture. The great mystery is that this daily and most human gesture is the way we recognize the presence of Christ among us. God becomes most present when we are most human.”

People are so divided on the “homeless issue,” but what about when the homeless cease being the “homeless”, and become our neighbor. Pearl Buck wrote: “You can not make yourself feel something you do not feel, but you can make yourself do right in-spite of your feelings.,” and Pema Chodron wrote: “True compassion does not  come from wanting to help out those less fortunate  than ourselves (“the down trodden”) but from realizing our kinship with all beings.”

One way of looking at our Gospel for today, is that we are called to give up our fear of losing everything, and share what we have, and in so doing we all will have what we need.

Secondly when we see each other as simply human beings on the same journey with the same fears and struggles, we let go and embrace each other as brothers and sisters. I have a friend, whom most people would think we would not have anything in common. He is not a believer, he is of a different ethnic background, he does martial arts and loves fighting, but there is a bond that can not be broken.  The bond is in the commonality of both being adopted, and both being outsiders in what we do. The bond is that we look through the garbage of our lives and see the beauty in each one. We break bread together and in that breaking we come together.

Let us break bread together as people on the journey, remembering the words of Jesus in the Gospel of John: “Whoever hasn’t sin should throw the first stone,” and in so doing see ourselves as brothers and sisters.

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


pay pal is on our website.

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

A Chance for A New God Experience

September 30, 2018

A Season for Everything- the acronym for CHANGE is….
a Chance to Have A New God Experience
(Sr. Rebecca St. Simon)

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

A season for everything

There’s a season for everything
    and a time for every matter under the heavens:
    a time for giving birth and a time for dying,
    a time for planting and a time for uprooting what was planted,
    a time for killing and a time for healing,
    a time for tearing down and a time for building up,
    a time for crying and a time for laughing,
    a time for mourning and a time for dancing,
    a time for throwing stones and a time for gathering stones,
    a time for embracing and a time for avoiding embraces,
    a time for searching and a time for losing,
    a time for keeping and a time for throwing away,
    a time for tearing and a time for repairing,
    a time for keeping silent and a time for speaking,
    a time for loving and a time for hating,
    a time, a time for hating and a time for war.

Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48
John said to Jesus: “Teacher, we saw someone throwing out demons in your name, and we tried
to stop him because he was not following us.  Jesus replied: ‘Don’t stop him. No one who does
 powerful acts in my name can quickly turn around and curse me. Whoever isn’t against us is
for us. I assure you that whoever give you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ
will certainly be rewarded.

Death is an intimate part of living. We die each day in so many ways.

In those death experiences, we find life coming forth if we but listen, and


When I came to San Francisco,  a Franciscan priest, familiar with the Tenderloin, and

with me told a group of people who asked about our ministry, “River, has chosen to walk

a road few choose to walk, emerging himself

in the filth of the street walking with young people as their friend, and as their priest,

he  lets them into his life, in away that they let him in theirs.  It is  a gift for ministry, that

few have, and he  is  judged harshly by many on the outside, so he has  stand

firm in his faith. His is a ministry of presence, and also suffering.” And it is.

My reputation flows like a stream, up and down, and I remain focused on  Jesus, for I

experience death in losing friends, and others who do not understand the way i

minister. Long time friends have moved away, colleagues have retired and moved on.

Death comes each day. Others walk way through misunderstanding.

The past year has been a year of dying,  as well. I have come to see that

each death leaves questions. Karen Sunde says; “To love is to receive a glimpse of heaven,”

and each day in each person on the street I encounter, in each young friend, homeless or

housed that I see, I have a glimpse of heaven, in loving them. I helped one nineteen year

old with a college paper the other night, and in doing that in love I had a glimpse of

heaven. I am fixing meals for a friend who is having surgery to freeze for her family,

and that for me is a joy, is love, and I receive a glimpse of heaven. There are glimpes

of heaven each day. But life is still a question.

Authenticity is being who we are.  Being true to ourselves, and that is what I work on each 

waking moment. To simply be myself, be true to my calling,  and love God through

loving the ones I encounter. Living in the moment–with hope which is all we have is,

living in the love of Jesus, who brings life to in its many forms.

Our divisions, our holding onto long time hatreds, and injuries caused by others destroy us.

To seek revenge is simply bringing  it back on us. We are like constantly changing, and

as we change, we need to let the past go. The greatest gift we have received is learning

to let the old piece of wood to be shaped into a work of art, as our life is crafted. Embrace

the now, forgive the past, accept people’s differences as a part of the beauty of life,

and meet each other half way. Live in the moment.

That is what I see ministry as, just being in the moment, walking with my friends in

that moment.  And in so doing we have “A Chance

To Have A New God EXPERIENCE.”

. to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

donations may be made through pay pal found on the website.


Peniel–Newsletter of Temenos Catholic Worker–October, 2018

September 27, 2018
Journal of An Alien Street Priest
The Reverend Geoff Simpson, who spent a summer with us in 2003 recently wrote a song reflecting on that time, and two other similar summer experiences:
“Out. the city, as the busy people hurry past the fragile form
pounding the pavement for a little something for that feeling, deep and warm.
Methadone treatments are harder to finish than finding the junk on the streets.
Nobody listens and nobody cares what he sells, what he buys, what he eats.
I offer sandwiches made up of cranberry sauce, ’cause it’s cheaper than jam’.
Needle exchange and protection, reducing harm to himself, is the plan.
Summer impressions; life shaking lessons.
Summer impressions, life shaping lessons.
The older I get, the more I forget how things that I’ve seen on the way, are still with me yet.
The older I get, the more I forget how things I’ve seen on the way, are still with me.”
From time to time people ask me when I am going to retire, and seem to have difficulty understanding the word “retirement” is not a part of my vocabulary; others tell me I need to do something else, and tell me, “You have done your part”, and  to walk away, which would be for me like Lot’s wife looking  back, “she turned to stone.” I have put my “hand to plow” and I can not look back. For the things I have seen on the streets are always with me, I can not escape.
In the City of San Francisco, we are experiencing an unprecedented housing crisis. Rents are driven to stratospheric levels by the growth of the technology industry. The homeless population is growing dramatically, often clustering in informal camps, on our side walks, and under bridges and freeways. As always San Francisco is the leader in the trends of the nation, and the trend of homelessness is spreading across the country.
Those of us who work with people on the streets often feel like the Green Monkey, who was separated from it’s Green Monkey troop, and whom you often find staring intensely  across the way at her friends, and sometimes even communicating with them by vocalization. Do they hear? What do you think she is saying? For twenty four years I have sought to answer that question of how to end homelessness, and still wondering when people are going to hear. There are no answers. All that is left for me is to be a pastor, in the moment, without judgment.
I came to San Francisco very black and white in my thinking, and in the years that have followed my thinking and actions  have moved into the gray ares.  As I have worked with people who have nothing, who are persecuted, harassed, ridiculed, and destroyed, the one thought that comes to mind is that their humility, compassion, and kindness has taught  me  there is no “evil” in the world, only pain,self-hatred, wounded souls, and disenfranchised humans, who are pushed to do terrible things.  Personally I believe that this may hold the key to healing the angry predicament we are in today. Hope overcomes fear.
Jesus in Mark 7:31-35, heals a deaf man, a sign of how God is acting to heal and transform a world marred by  injustice.  When we act in God’s name to bring his mercy to others, we never act alone and make present the truth Martin Luther King, Jr. once observed: “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
Let us hear the voice of Jesus and move out of our tribes, and become an actor of healing.
May God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, bless, preserve, and keep you now and forever. Amen!
———————————————————————————————  Activities in October
Weekly Meals–At least one, or two when we have assistance.
 October 1, 10 a,m.–6:00 p.m.–San Francisco Vegetarian Festival
October 20, Noon-5:00 p.m.– Our Town sf–Bringing together City non-profits to give people better access.
October 21: 8 and 11 a.m.– Reception giving thanks for St. Luke’s Episcopal Church support.
We invite you to attend and assist in any of these, activities, please call 415:305-2124.
        We Are Beggars!
As Thanksgiving and Christmas approaches we are in need of additional funding for buying gifts of stocking caps, and for extra food. We need financing for the increasing need of socks.
We are begging for your support, and in giving you become our hands and feet on the ground.
Temenos Catholic Worker
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164
or through Pay Pal on our website
or through Pay Pal using  our phone number:
If you have problems call 415-305-2124 for assistance.
Our thanks to all who support us now, to those who have entered the Communion of Saints, and to those who have moved on for various reasons.
We are often asked about our “community”, and our community are you who have given through the years, who support me personally, chastising sometimes, but always loving, and those who come and go as volunteers. We have never been alone.
Dio Gratias! Thanks be to God!

The Road To Edmond

September 26, 2018

The Road to Edmond

“The Road to Edmond” is a movie about two guys–both Christian, and both in the cross fires of the institutional Church.  Larry, is a United Methodist minister, whose daughter died, and brought him face to face with his own mortality and with the institution and its “pat words”, and he no longer pastors a church, but his spirituality is one of encountering the “Wild Goose”, in one scene he performs the wedding ceremony of a lesbian couple.  That is a rebel act in the United Methodist Church with its homophobic stance. He is outside the grail., and Cleo is a youth minister in an evangelical church put on leave of absence because of his pastoral advice and care for a girl, contrary to that of the institution–we never know the issue, but it is one in which he is faced with opposition from his board. His pastor agrees with him, but cowardly does not stand with Cleo, for fear of losing his job.

Larry tells Cleo that as a minister he is to “love the girl as her  parents do”, and like all parents love is not perfect. And runs contrary to what the institution wants.

Larry sums up the movie in his wedding sermon, based on John 15 where Jesus says: “No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends,”–putting yourself second, seeing both sides, dying to one’s own needs in order that the other might live.

The Gospel is that of love–breaking through the artificial boundaries of institutions, and loving the other person as our brother and sister, our son and daughter, our grandson and grand daughter.

Last week I took  a sixteen year old friend to his  home from a Quinceanera, a Mexican celebration of a girl becoming a woman.on her 15th birthday. I had watched him move through the crowd, so gracious, and so full of life, without a care in the world. My friend was at his best. He always dresses in the best and puts on a great show. The reality is that because of the color of his skin he is  confronted with racism, and an economy that will be tough to make a living in.

As I pulled the cover over him on the couch where he collapsed when he arrived home I thought of a quote given to me many years ago: “A friend is one who sees through the act and stills enjoys the show.” This young man  is that type of friend, and I thought of all the hate and bigotry he will face in the coming years and the pain he will endure. And my prayer is that he will be like Larry and Cleo seeing through the show, and remain the caring and open person that he is.

In Edmond Larry goes to his infant daughters grave, where he felt the utter loneliness in life, and he broke down, as he read a letter of his father, which brought a closure to their relationship.  In those moments the thin line between eternity and the present opened, and Larry found peace, and in our imagination we could hear the voice of God saying, “Thou art my son, and I am well pleased with you,” and continuing down the road Cleo talked to the young girls parents and the young girl, and he was true to his path, and he too encountered the Spirit of God.

In a time filled with scandal, and the pointing of fingers, let us remember that God is like a Wild Goose, who moves in love and calls us to move in love, and to do  so means to take risks, to be hurt, but oh, the joy we find in the aches and pain, and in dying. For only in stripping down to the pain, can we find the joy of friendship, and of love.

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


We receive donations on pay pal on the website. You can also give to pay pal on your phone.

Nothing Hidden That Want Be Exposed

September 24, 2018


“No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a bowl or puts it under a bed. Instead they put it on top of  lamp stand so that those who enter can see the light. Nothing is hidden that want be exposed. Nor is anything concealed that won’t be made known and brought to light.” Luke 8:16-17

“The function of ritual and myth is to make possible, and then to facilitate the jump–by analogy. Forms and conceptions that the mind and its senses can comprehend are presented and arranged in such a way as to suggest a truth or and openness beyond. And then, the conditions for meditation having been provided, the individual is left alone. Myth is but the penultimate, the ultimate openness–that void, or being, beyond the categories–into which the mind must plunge alone and be dissolved. Therefore, God and the gods are only convenient means–symbols to move and awaken the mind, and call it past themselves” ( The Hero With A Thousand Faces, p. 221-222).

This morning at 3 sixteen year old Rick rang my door, he had an abscess on his leg, bleeding, and infected. I knew if I took him to the hospital to have it dressed he would would not wait the four or five hours so I dressed it. As I was cleaning the wound he kept calling me “white boy,” and I reached over and picked up a safety pin and pricked my finger and pointed it in his face and said in anger,  “Do not insult me, we are the same color ,” in part that was due to being hurt by a friend, I really trust and care for, earlier who called me “white boy,” out of irritation, separating me from him, and in part from my own anger at us who are as whites have  rule the world with  prejudice and domination.

Earlier in the day working with a friend on his American history in the early part of the century I became physically ill over reading of how we as whites have ruled the world with our superiority. I want no part of that, and yet I am privileged from that, I can not separate myself from that heritage or the privilege. We can not tear down our monuments to that heritage, and forget, we must remember, and in so doing, grow, and change so we never repeat that again.

For inside we are all the same color, and we die the same, it is in our outward prejudices that we destroy. I finished with his wound and put him to bed on the bottom bunk and this morning, he hugged me and said, “I am sorry, you are my bro”, and I replied, “I know.” And he looked at me and said , “You are still a white boy,” and laughed.

Joseph Campbell, who by the way was a Republican and supporter of Nixon,–and who  fits into no categories–summarizes for me the way I look at life. Myth and religion are the guide posts that lead us outside the village compound into the wilderness, into the place where we fit into no categories, and that is where I am. I make psychologists, and priests uneasy, I make people in high places and of wealth uneasy, I hang out with people of all ages, I fit no where.  I am one of the “lost boys,” and as much as I fight being in the wilderness, it is where I work my meaning and purpose out. I like the feeling of being a part of a group of “homies” or the crew, but the reality is I never fit in, I always go counter, and suffer rejection. Robert Frost says it well, “to take the road less traveled.”  Right now the people I feel close to are six or seven crazy adolescents, five years ago it was a seventy five year old priest, and two eighty year old nuns, who have gone into the communion of saints. I am in no tribe.  But ultimately I am alone in the wilderness, on this journey, and ultimately it is my opinion that counts. That is why it is best to respect people in all of their opinions, and views–for we all are different.

People like to hear about my time on the streets, and my time here working, and neither one is romantic. My time on the streets when  I was much younger, were painful. We had so much anger, and we were in a situation where to survive you often times had to result to violence. I saw violence, and evil, at its darkest.

Through the grace of God, through the Spirit that moves ever so slowly my life changed, and I am slowly being born again. Through that time I learned that people grow, they change, and can experience grace. That is why I do not believe in the death penalty,and  believe that teens should never receive a life sentence, people change, they grow. That is why I do not raise my hand against any one or make judgments on their life choices. I am told to be “an adult”,– to be an adult for me is to walk with people, pick them up when they fall, and ever so gently walk with  them in finding their way, which may be very different from my own.

Jamie, who was 18 at the time, commented to me one night: “You must have done something really bad, to do what you do for us, to give yourself away, to love us, no one ever does that.”   I responded as I always do, that I have within me the power to do the worst, as we all do, and there but for the grace of God—and a hell of a lot of luck– go I. What love I have  comes from my experience with that Love that knows no end, and no ending of grace, and opportunity.

I am struggling now, I feel lonely, worn out, and very much alone,  misunderstood, but these are feelings in the moment, for I know that the road less traveled is the one that leads into the Kingdom, where I can say to  Jesus, “I tried, I honestly tried, and I screwed up, but I tried,” and he will say, “Welcome into the Kingdom my good and faithful servant, work well done.”

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


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Receive and Welcome Christ

September 22, 2018

Receive And Welcome Christ!

“Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me.” (MK 9:37)

Sometimes, late at night, sitting around talking, after a little, ‘Pacifica,’ a friend, will with a glint in his eye say, “Let me tell you a secret,” and a secret is shared.

I want to tell you a secret, one I have only told three other people out of fear.  Several friends of mine have shared with me the same “secret” through the years, and their fear of having people knowing, and so I want to remove the stigma, of that secret.

A few years ago I was being evaluated for a position, and as always had a psyche exam.

The good doctor came in and sat down and said, “Do you know that you have Asperger’s? It is a form of autism”, and really frightened me.

In a course we had talked about it, but very lightly, so I  looked up the diagnosis and the symptoms that I spotted was my need to be single focused, my inability to work with numbers or it can be another academic area, my sense of not trusting people, and always questioning if I am liked. “Symptoms” I see in all my “normal” acquaintances.” I did not think much about it until I shared with someone and than I was treated as if I was an outcast, someone placed in a box.

So following several negative encounters this became my “secret”.  I have never shared this with a therapist or a doctor. And never publicly until now. And I focused my life to working on those “symptoms” more directly.

To be true to myself, to be true to my friends, I now am coming out. It is scary, embarrassing, and fearful.

The same with  PTSD, it is a label, the “symptoms” I work on, I struggle with, I do not let it define me.

When Jesus calls us to be children, he calls us to define no one, not label people, but view them  with wonderment, and with understanding.

Dorthy Day insisted that a baptized person should focus on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.  As the traditional Christian hymn Ubi Caritas, reminds us, “Where charity and love prevail, God is ever found.”

What truly defines us is the charity and love we give to one another. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94109


You may give through pay pal on the website or through your phone.