For All the Queer Saints Outside the Gates

July 21, 2016

FOR ALL THE QUEER SAINTS OUTSIDE THE CAMP

Hebrews 13: 13: “So now let’s go to him outside the camp.”

“We believe in the authoritative, inerrant, infallible Word of God. His name is Jesus.” Bruxy Cavey

Through the years when we have spoken we have frustrated people, in particular adults, who want to argue with us about what Scriptures say about homosexuality, because for us there is no argument.  Jesus sums it up in his word of love.

Queers are a part of the fabric of the church.  We have been in the Church  since the beginning, for we have encountered that Word of love in Christ. Through the past twenty two years we have come to know those who have open their lives to persecution and possible martyrdom in seeking to bring the church into the light of the
Gospel of inclusive love.  They have suffered much hate, threats, and in their own lives they have struggled immensely, but in that struggle has come a witness for Christ that shines through the ages. Their lives are parables of the heart, which tell a story of faith, struggled, and most importantly of the transforming God. We would like to share a few of those we know personally, and lift them up as heroes of the faith:

Rt. Reverend Craig Bettendorf;  Craig founded the Evangelical
Anglican Church in 1989, as a branch of Anglicanism that would ordain queers.

Pastor Maria Caruna, pastor of Freedom in Christ Evangelical Church.  Her church is an evangelical church that proclaims the Gospel in its evangelical context and inclusive love.  She is a lesbian who has been out long before it was “cool”, and has endured much.

Reverend Danny Cortez–Danny is queer in spirit–He is a straight man whose teen son came out, and Danny had been struggling himself with his understanding of Scripture around the “homosexual” issue, and he came to the conclusion that those passages were out of context. He presented this to his Southern Baptist Convention where he was removed. He founded the Third Way Church which welcomes all. He is a man of courage who risked all, and continues to risk all.

The Rt.  Reverend Dr. Yvette Flunder, pastor of City of Refuge United Church of Christ.  She is black woman who has fought the good fight for many years. She meets opposition with the grace of God always proclaiming the inclusive love of Jesus.

The Rt.Reverend Dr. Karen Oliveri, recently elected first out United Methodist Bishop has born witness to the inclusive love of Christ in the United Methodist Church for many years.  She begins a journey now of being the first out Bishop in a church that is struggling with the question of ordaining queers, and she is a target, and will stand in the middle of that storm as the winds of struggle whirl around her. She is a courageous and brave woman. She is truly a woman of our time.

The Reverend Janie Spahr is a Lesbian Presbyterian minister we met over twenty years a go when she spoke in Minneapolis. She was on the front lines of the queer struggle in the Presbyterian Church from the beginning, and has been a pioneer. She has endured persecution,  but she  maintained her faith, and is  a leader in the transformation of the  of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.

The Rt. Reverend Gene Robinson, first out Episcopal Bishop. Gene has lead the fight in the Episcopal Church with courage and grace, and he has faced death threats, and the abuse of many. He is a man of courage.

These are running the race set out before them fixing their eyes on Jesus. They are the models of the the Church that is inclusive.

Mychal Copeland recently wrote a book entitled; Struggling in Good Faith, these individuals have struggled and are struggling in good faith, becoming the bright beacons of God to the world. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

414-305-2124

http://www.temenos.org

Fr. C.River Damien Sims, D.S.T., D.Min. candidate, John Knox Seminary

414-305-2124

Pride Stole and Socks

Perspective

July 17, 2016

PERSPECTIVE

Romans 5:1-11

There are so many arguments about who is right or wrong.  The reality is that when we are justified by faith, we become children of God who have been redeemed by Christ and we journey on a path growing in faith and knowledge–we are never done. All of us are imperfect, we are goof- ups and it is in working towards the goal of perfection–perfection in love of our neighbor that we grow.  Below is an article that illustrates that growing towards perfection. Life is messy, painful, and never perfect, Scott Peck says that “Life is difficult, and when you learn that you will grow.”

There’s a wonderful series of books – The Path to Power by Robert A. Caro – on Lyndon Johnson, the 36th President of the United States.

By all accounts, LBJ was not someone you’d like to marry into your family. He was a relentless politician, a climber, a habitual liar, and treated many people like dirt, including his wife Lady Bird. He also embroiled the country in Vietnam, for which many never forgave him.

On the other hand, LBJ was a deep Southerner who cared deeply about the rights of the poor and the rights of people of color, at a time when few whites did, and even fewer whites in power did.

He used his political power to enact Civil Rights legislation that seemingly no one else could get through, and with his Great Society programs, gave millions of poor and elderly people dignity, both of which we basically take for granted today, but were an enormous struggle to enact.

LBJ was not popular in his time, though history has been a bit more friendly to him.

But the question stands…was he a good guy? Do we admire him or can we barely contain our hatred?

To an ideologue, LBJ fits into some category or another. He’s despicable, and his crimes cannot be made up for. His lies and his personal reputation make him unforgivable.

Alternatively, by passing Civil Rights, maybe LBJ is something of a dark hero – a flawed, Batman-like figure who we needed but couldn’t appreciate in his time.

The truth is, of course, in between. He’s all of these things.

The problem lies with us, the categorizers. We want to place him somewhere and move on.

You may fairly, on balance, think LBJ detracted more than he added. That’s fine. But that’s not what most people want to do – they want to put the black hat or the white hat on him. Villain or hero.

This is a special case of a broader mental phenomenon that we’re doing all the time. “This music sucks! This music is the best thing ever created!” “Yoga is for weirdoes.” “Yoga is the only way to achieve mental peace.” 

It’s only once you can begin divorcing yourself from good-and-bad, black-and-white, category X&Y type thinking that your understanding of reality starts to fit together properly.

Putting things on a continuum, assessing the scale of their importance and quantifying their effects, understanding both the good and the bad, is the way to do it.

Understanding the other side of the argument better than your own, a theme we hammer on ad nauseum, is the way to do it.

Because truth always lies somewhere in between, and the discomfort of being uncertain is preferable to the certainty of being wrong.

It isn’t easy, but it’s not supposed to be.

Shane Parrish

 

Shadow Lands

July 16, 2016

SHADOW LANDS

“. . .he want break a bent stalk, and he won’t snuff out a smoldering wick, until he makes justice win. . . Matthew 12:14-21

C. S. Lewis wrote a book entitled Shadow Lands  describing his time of grief after his wife’s death. The title describes my experience.

April 20th I was accidentally given in water a hallucinogenic which was poisoned, three weeks later a well dressed couple came to my door asking for information about  their son. I told them I did not know him, and the man pulled a gun and pointed it at me and said: “He calls you his friend on face book,” and I looked at him and said, “I am his priest–I will not share any information.”  We stared at each other, with me looking at the gun for who knows how long, and I urinated all over myself. The wife was begging her husband to stop and he broke down and started crying. I simply laid my hand on his shoulder and prayed, and than as they were leaving the wife said: “Are you going to call the cops?” I said, “Go in peace.” In reality I wanted to take my walking stick and beat the SOB to pulp.  They left. Since than I have been overwhelmed with depression. I have  simply done  my work.  Along with that has come the daily face book comments, and not so nice emails. But in talking to my therapist this may have been the best thing that could have happened, because it knocked me into looking at my life.

My therapist gave me a quote along time ago by Ta-Nehsi Coates which reads:

“The streets transform every ordinary day into a series of trick questions and every incorrect answer risks a beat down, shooting, or a pregnancy.  None survive unscathed.”

The streets for me began in an environment of wealth and privilege where the only word known for being gay was “fag”; they continued as I entered the church, where I remember a District Superintendent saying to us ministers”If anyone says you are a fag, you will be gone that day.” And I was gone and totally cut off from my friends, and my family.  The streets continued in Hollywood where every day was a series of quick questions and every incorrect answer a beat down, shooting, or rape.  You never survive unscathed. My life has not survived unscathed, and those scars simply heal and ultimately become more beautiful, but you can never go back, only forward.

I have chosen the streets of San Francisco, I have chosen a life “outside the gates” that bring with it the risks, and I do so each day because it is my call and it makes me supremely content.  My whole life has been a call to the streets.  One of the things that each day, teaches me is that I have plenty of judgment, and I do my best not to let it out–I with hold it, because my judgment can “break a bent stalk.” We have to walk with people where they are–our judgments from our own cultural experience can destroy lives. People’s judgments almost destroyed my life, and continue to try to beat me down, and hurt–but I have learned there is only One for whose judgment I am accountable to, and Christ will not “bend the stalk”.

Several nights ago a possible seminary intern went out on the streets with me. At the end of the night she told me “You scare me.  Frankly you talked a language like pig Latin all night.  I believe you bring people up to your language so you can change their lives.” I could not keep from laughing, which made things worse.   And I said: “Only God changes lives, and “pig Latin” I talk every day–from one social strata to the other, for  all of us have our own pig Latin, we simply need to talk each others language.” Needless to say I am not number one on her list.
What I am learning from the past couple of months is that I will listen to any one’s pig Latin, but when they start imposing their way of looking at life on me personally, I will “dust my feet off.” When they have the “right answer”–it is time to move on.  We are all called to listen to each other, and can disagree, but when we have the “right answer”, we are in danger of “breaking a bent stalk.” We close our minds, we close ourselves off from people. For example I literally hate alcohol and tobacco, because of the lives of my family members they have destroyed, but I will never tell anyone not to use them, they have to come to that choice themselves.  It tears me up to see the damage done to the lives of my guys by street drugs–but it is their choice and their decision. I have to respect their decisions–influenced by hurt, rejection, and pain I have no idea of.

We all walk in our own shadow lands, let us go about  not breaking the bent stalk,” so that we can help each other on the journey.

I affirm that Jesus is Lord because he is the Sun that has beamed throughout my life and whether there is life after death–that does not matter–what matters is the Sun shines now.

Soul Food – by Gloria Klinger

Soul food
the food that blesses us
when we sit at table in communion
when we hold out a hand to a stranger
when we walk in another’s shoes
when we practice compassion.

Soul food
the food that nourishes us
when we act from our hearts
when we join with others for a cause
when we rise to meet adversity
when we celebrate abundance around us.

Soul food
the food that connects us
when we prepare meals to mend broken hearts
when we sit in stillness with another’s grief
when we give laughter to the aching world
when we choose to live from our essence.

Soul food
the food that enlivens us
when we nurture others on the path
when we recognize our gifts and use them
when we give and receive joy
when we feed the world with our light.

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

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

The Flexible Heart

July 15, 2016

THE FLEXIBLE HEART–St. Boniface

Matthew 12:1-14–The Message: “I prefer a flexible heart to an inflexible ritual. (6-8).

Jo Jo in our photo has been treated with an inflexible ritual through out her life; she comes from a home were being “male” is the law; she has been abused by her family; the system–because she can not follow their expectations; men and women have abused her. She simply does not fit in.

Growing up I witnessed several aunts and uncles literally kill themselves through alcoholism, and my parents dying from lung cancer as a result of smoking. I literally hate both substances–but I do not, and will not bring my own judgment into the lives of others because of my experience.  My witness is I do not drink or smoke and am happy and satisfied in life.

I witness every day of my life both  men and women of all ages destroying their lives from drugs; and I witness our capitalistic society  being an indirect cause through its lack of providing for the basic needs of individuals.

What Jesus did throughout his ministry was listen–without judgment, and in that listening people heard his message of love and hope. Others heard  him differently and crucified him.

In seminary I was trained in pastoral care to be a listener. My professor said: ‘If you can not listen without loving unconditionally you do not belong in the ministry.” Through experience I have learned we can only listen, and walk with people where they are, without bringing our on judgments on others. 

The overall positive for me–that counters the criticism and judgment of my way of listening–is I relate to people where they are, hear their stories, walk with them as friends, and occasionally, and I mean occasionally see them  find a better way of life. Doing that is not easy–and as my friend said once: “all the trains come at you.,” but believe me there is so much joy. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.S.T., D.Min. Candidate, John Knox Seminary

What If?

July 14, 2016

What If?

Matt. 11:28-30

“Are you tired?  Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me–watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace, I won’t lay anything heavy or ill fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

We look back and ask “What if?”  What if I had not been gay, what would my life have been like?  What if I had met moved or chosen another job, what would my life had been like?  What if I had not had cancer, what would my life had been like?  What if I was not old, what would my life be like?

Today Perry Williams in Texas and John Connor of Georgia are scheduled to be executed.  They have many “what ifs”, and the families of their victims have been suffering from so many “what ifs” through the years.

From my own theology I believe that Jesus fulfilled the law and the prophets, and that fulfillment came in the form of love. He invites all of us to come unto him and put our “what if’s aside,” and to find strength in him and to move forth in new life.

Today I as I pray for the victims, and their families, I  pray for John and Perry, and pray that all those “what if’s” may turn into avenues of freedom from their past.  I pray at the beginning of this day that John and Perry may be freed from the chains of death by mercy from the State, but if that does not happen that they   enter into God’s presence being freed from death and the chains of the past; I pray that the families of the victims can move into new lives freed from the the what ifs of the past. If the executions go forward I pray that these will be the last executions and that State will move into restorative justice.

Jesus frees us from the “What if’s” but we must choose:

“Are you tired?  Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me–watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace, I won’t lay anything heavy or ill fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” ”

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

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

 

Throwing Pebbles in the Pond

July 11, 2016

THROWING PEBBLES IN THE POND

Seventy years ago Dorothy Day said: “We face the situation that there is nothing we can do for people except love them. .What I mean is that there is no chance of rehabilitation, no chance, so far as we can see of changing them; certainly no chance of adjusting them to this abominable world about them–and who wants them adjusted any way.. . .We can throw our pebble in the pond and be confident that its ever widening circle will reach around the world. We repeat there is nothing that we can do but love, and dear God–please enlarge our hearts to love each other, to love our neighbor, to love our enemy as well as our friend.”

Last night 20 year old , J sat on my couch. His dad had kicked him out because he was “tired of him” and he came to San Francisco and is presently  in the   program of a local youth agency. The problem is the agency is telling him there is little hope of housing within a year. J is going through Craig’s List finding people with whom to have sex  and goes to the Nob Hill Movie House for the same reason; he is drug free–for now, but thinking about using in order to deal with his fear and depression; J was asking me about how to put an ad on craig’s list to “make money”, and I told him, but gave him fifty dollars and asked him to take the day to think about it–because from my own experience it will change his life forever; I told him that once you sold your body you are never the same, and to think hard about it.  But the naked reality is J will probably have no choice,  but to sell his body to survive.  J is depressed with no friends, no where to live, little hope. He left giving me a hug.

Two days ago I received a call from a seventy year old woman in Bellingham Washington. She had been calling Catholic Workers, trying to find someone to talk to, and I was the only one who answered. For two hours I simply listened. She talked of how she had to move from San Francisco because of the cost of living and now living in Bellingham alone, no family, no friends, and she was “just clinging to hope.”

“Clinging to hope,” is what almost everyone I encounter is doing.  The only hope I can offer is the hope of Dorothy–love, simply love through listening, food, and time.

This past week I have been reminded of what a friend wrote to me some twenty years ago when I came to San Francisco, Mary  said:

“You have chosen a vocation which reminds me of a  a conductor standing in the middle of the train tracks with trains coming from all directions–all blinding you, all aiming at you, without thought of you.  Your path is one of courage–but a hell of a lot of pain.”

My friend has along ago joined the great cloud of witnesses and I see her face and her smile, and feel her love, but the romantic sounding of that phrase has turned into much pain, and fear at times. This past week I have had emails, phone calls, Face book messages calling me names, and people projecting their own fears and frustrations on me,  and I sat in Sacramento and now here numb, and yet the people still come and I still keep on going. And my attitude is again coming back to simply saying “Come at me, keep’em coming and I will simply let them run off my back and keep on going.”

We live in a time of desperation and fear–and people lash out, and with social media and technology with  much venom and destruction in their words.

One of the quotes that a person sent is a sign of grace in describing our ministry:

“Anti-social behavior is a sign of intelligence in a world full of conformity.”

We are anti social in our attitude toward society and towards the church.God loves people without expectation of results, and we expect society to provide the basic needs of housing, health care, food, and clothing in the same expectation. God in Christ loves people without expectation of their belief, their race, creed, or sexual orientation. We expect the same. We are anti-social, we are feral, and we make no apologies for that.

But the reality is there is nothing we can change on our own and the likelihood is that nothing will change–homelessness and poverty is increasing, and is more prevalent than ever. We are more aware of it because of our social media. To kick against the grain destroys us, it destroys our own emotional well being. What we know is that we can not change people, but we can offer love, and respite in the midst of life, and in that love and respite lives are transformed.

Personally this journey of the past nearly twenty two years–in fact all of my life–is one of encountering the Risen Christ in his broken body, and that brokenness is in my body-and in the healing through the scars I have experienced–providing a listening ear, a pair of socks, some food, some comfort in the moment–until I too move in to that great cloud of witnesses and am forgotten about here on earth.

For the poem poem of Elisabeth Drescher sums up for me the light of wisdom and love and sums up what ministry is about:

“In the new light

of each day’s questions,

I am never prepared.

Today, again, I have nothing

to offer but a handful

of old prayers, worn down

by the relentless abrasion

of doubt, and a fragment

of dream that plays on in m head

only half remembered. Still,

the doves coo and circle

through the pines

as they do when I pass

each morning. Their sorrow

is nearly human, it rings

sweet with regret. By dusk,

the trees will bow down, and I , too,

will make my appeal, will find find

again your mercy,

your solace.”

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

415-305-2124

http://www.temenos.org

Fr. River Damien Sims

Short Message–Hell’ve of A Long Road

July 3, 2016

H

SHORT MESSAGE–A HELL’VE OF A LONG ROAD

“Carry no wallet, no bag, and no sandals.  Don’t even greet anyone along the way.” LK. 10: 4. 

We are called to proclaim that the “reign of God is at hand,” and do so being unemcumbered.

This past week the articles in the Chronicle have been depressing, discouraging, and add to that the violence, and hunger through out the world, and one can become depressed.  But the reality is that the call of Jesus calls us to proclaim that the “reign of God” is at hand.

And that reign is at hand in each person we feed, we provide clothing for, and we share of ourselves with. We saw it at hand in the “Shower Bus” on Polk two nights ago; we see it at hand each day as we feed and visit with people.

Jesus becomes incarnate in us when we move out taking care of people.  It is a hell’ve of a long road, but the message we proclaim is “the reign of God is at hand” in each act of kindness we show to another. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

Fr. River Damien Sims

Works Without Mercy

July 2, 2016

MERCY WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD

Amos 9:11-15 Matthew 9:14-17

John Corridan

John Corridan was the Jesuit Priest known as the Waterfront Priest, who was the subject of  the movie “On the Waterfront”.  He once said: “Some people think the “Crucifixion only took place on Calvary, but they better wise up! Every time the mob puts the crusher on a good man. .it’s crucifixion!”  When one of the mob said to him: “Go back to your Church Father,” the priest replies: “Boys, this is my church. If you don’t think Christ is here on the waterfront, you got another guess coming.”

In our Gospel we read: “.. . .Instead people pour new wine into new wineskins so that both are kept safe.” The new wineskins are a spirituality that embraces all of life and does not run away from the reality that is around us. It calls us to be the body of Christ.

Being spiritual is about being involved in the dirty business of life.  Pope Francis tells us:

Mercy without works is dead.

He continued, “To be merciful like God our Father demands constant sensitivity to the needs, material and spiritual, of those around us.”

Diana Macalintal writes a poem that speaks to each of us as we walk outside our door, and that sums up the message of the Gospel and the Pope:

“I see them, Lord, every morning,

standing on the same street corner.

They hold their tattered signs–

“will work for food”–

with every bit of dignity they have.

As I drive by, they raise their hand

in blessing.

I walk by them on my lunch break,

leaning against a wall,

their few possessions tucked close by.

A dirty hand reaches out

in a sign of peace.

“Spare some change?” they ask,

as I avoid eye contact.

“God bless you” is their answer

to my silence.

Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty,

a stranger and alone?

When did we you at all?

Forgive me, God, for what I have done

and for what I have failed to do.

And I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin,

all the angels and saints,

and you, my brothers and sisters

whom I have passed by,

to pray for me,

that next time,

I will stop to meet Christ.”

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

Fr. River Damien Sims

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

Unexpected Mercy

July 1, 2016

UNEXPECTED MERCY

St. Juniper Sierra Amos 8:4-12 Matthew 9:9-13-Feast of St. Matthew

The past three two days I have been stranded at home with tendonitis and a bruised heel.  The Chronicle articles on homelessness,and  the Guardian’s article have overwhelmed me with feelings of fear, failure, and hopelessness; emails and Face book messages criticizing my work, and my faith practices are overwhelming. There was a false fire alarm in the building last night, and I lay away shaking about what I would do if I lost my place. Fear is overwhelming, paralzying.

I think how it would be nice just to start drinking wine and not stop or smoking pot and not stop–it would numb the pain, it would take me to another land–and than I think of the way I would feel afterward–and so I prefer to face  my fears and pain. No one is available to talk on the phone–unless they have a problem.

Than the door bell rings and there is Shaggy, 46 years old,has been on the street for thirty years, does not want to be off the streets, does not want any help, accept some socks, some food, and some friendship. He was so sad the other night when he was refused a shelter bed because he did not want to be a part of their program to move people off the street.  He is always joking with me, “I am not fixable”, and “I am a no body.”  He is one of the many “nobodies” who choose not to seek to get off the street. But they are in God’s eyes some bodies, his children, deserving of respect and of love.  Matthew was a nobody, unacceptable in the eyes of society, and in the eyes of Christ he was a somebody.

Neil Varcy wrote: “Human lives are lives lived in the soil, among the beasts, not in the mind.” The reality is that the people talked about in the news articles, that we stand a part from and criticize and turn our eyes away from  are human lives, lived in the soil  of the earth. When we live our lives in that soil they cease being the other, and maybe we like Matthew will give half of what we have, in order that they might have better lives.  If we all gave half of what we have than we would have mental health care, more housing, health care and everyone would  be fed.  It is not just the governments responsiblitity. It is our responsibility.

And the truth is there is nothing I can do about society in general, but what I can do is to continue each day to give a pair of socks, some food, some love to the men and women like Shaggy.

I received an email this week from a person telling me that I am “a loser”, and my answer to him, “Yes buddy, I am a loser, but in the eyes of Jesus of Nazareth I am his brother, and that is being a winner for me.”

So if you have been like me, depressed, thinking about smoking some pot or drinking, fearful of losing your place, judging other people–than get up off your ass–go feed someone, talk to them, give them a pair of socks–it is the best cure for depression in the world.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

415-305-2124

http://www.temenos.org

A Man-Made Disaster

June 29, 2016

A MAN-MADE DISASTER–Matthew 16:13-19

From the beginning of my seminary career we read and heard of a United Methodist minister in San Francisco, who was a radical, weird, and pushing the boundaries sort of guy. He was  a man I admired, for he preached the Gospel. He supported civil rights, queer rights, in fact he supported all rights, and he still does. His name is the Reverend Cecil Williams, co founder and minister liberation of Glide Memorial United Methodist Church.

In his piece, “A Man-Made Disaster” in the San Francisco Chronicle he wrote these words:

“We San Franciscans are no strangers to tremors. We live in earthquake country. We’ve weathered some major ones, and we continue to prepare for the Big One we all know is coming someday.  But let’s ask ourselves: is the ground not already shaking? Homelessness is a man-made earthquake, a painful and destructive rift in the social contract, and addressing it requires a major effort on the part of all of us.

Those of us living on the street feel the ground trembling beneath us.  We are left permanently unsettled, facing continued relocation, constant upheaval and insecurity–like refugees in our own city.. . .”

His words call each of us to accountability in caring for our brothers and sisters who live on the street. Stephen Hawking tells us that “Greed and stupidity will end the human race.”  Our greed, our need to hold on to every dollar and our stupidity in not seeing that in sharing we bring life will destroy us.

Last night I had purchased a new set of shoes, and was carrying the one’s I was wearing in a bag. A homeless guy without shoes or socks asked me for them, I gave him two pairs of socks, and the pair of boots. One well-dressed gentleman told me “You are stupid for giving that thug your shoes, they are just free-loaders.”  Greed and stupidity will destroy us.

There is not enough housing for the people on the streets to begin with, and like Rev. Williams states, those of us with housing are shaking in our boots, because there are those at our door wanting our housing. Those of us who rent know what it is like to have the wolves at our door. Those of us who rent know what it means to live close to being on the street.  All it takes is a fire or illness.

Homelessness, high rents are “man made” disasters, and we each have a part in the solution.  Our churches, and our secular organizations can open their doors and provide a place for people are homeless to sleep each night; Rather than expect the government to solve the problem we in each of our organizations and churches can use our resources to ease the needs of people on the street. We as individuals can feed people, we can give them clothing, and if we have a room, can give them a room.

The two young men in the photo yesterday spent the day feeding and talking to young men and women in the Haight, and the older people on Polk, and both said in one form or another, “They are just like us, just people.”

Rather than categorizing –we need to view each other as simply human beings, and provide the basic needs of food, housing, health care, and respect to all.   If we listen we can hear the still small voice of Jesus saying to us:

“When I was hungry you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.” Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124


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