Queer Stations of the Cross

March 27, 2018

QUEER STATIONS OF THE CROSS
STRUGGLE FOR EQUALITY

BEGIN AT THE RAINBOW FLAG
AT MARKET AND CASTRO
1:00 P.M. –GOOD FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2018

MARCH THROUGH THE CASTRO AND REMEMBER  CHRIST’S CRUCIFIXION  IN LGBTQ, HOMELESS, AND ALL WHO ARE QUEER

To Volunteer call Fr. River 415-305-2124

———————————————————————————————————————————————————-

As people have commented that the Stations will not be the same in the  Castro as in the Tenderloin, I am reminded of how we all put blinders on our eyes to cover up the reality around us. We look for the easy answers, we look for solutions when in reality there are no solutions.

All of the plans of our Mayoral candidates are repeats of plans through the years. The truth is we can measure our worth in our dedication to the path, not by our successes or our failures. It is in the steady work of day to day that we find hope and promise.  People often asked me to share my success stories, and as I look at the ones who have gotten off the street I see people who suffer the difficulty of mental illness, of their constant struggle with PTSD, and all that comes with living on the streets–is that success?

In the Castro there are people sleeping on the street, and are not seen because of our blinders, we walk by, there are people suffering from discrimination that spreads across this country and the world.

So come join us, let us take the blinders off our eyes, and see the daily crucifixion of Christ in our midst. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

River Sims, D.Min.

 

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

Temenos Catholic Worker
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, California 94164-2656
415-305-2124

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An Outsider

March 26, 2018

An Outsider

I was told when I first came here so many years ago, that doing this alone I would not last. Well I have lasted, for you see what people never, never, never understand is what I do is being a pastor to people. It is not a community of people doing activism and serving food, but being a pastor, which means you walk alone in that role. I have been criticized, and made fun of, and it has been painful. But that is what this is about to be a pastor.

I am an outsider, one who walks a different path, one who lives outside the cultural bounds–who expects all of us to be family, who expects each of us to stand with one another, and to take care of one another outside of our tribes, and who calls into question the materialism that is destroying society.

I have had recent threats on my life, and people say, “You just feed people,”  well even feeding people can be dangerous in this society that says “fu..k you to the homeless; but I do more than that, I walk with them as a friend, advocate for them, and I work  against johns, child traffickers, among the many who terrorize and destroy people; I am called all sorts of names, to the point even when my friends kid me I cry.

I am at the point now where I feel I really have no friends; and most people expect so much from me, so much,  and it is painful. These past months have been painful with illness, and people just walking away. I have had basically two 18 year old’s stand by me, and I have never understood why, I fight with them, push them away.

I believe in the Jesus, who walked Galilee, and was crucified for doing justice, but the resurrection, is a myth, that offers hope, and is used to justify enslaving people by promising a “future life,” without responsibility for this life. The resurrection is the hope that Christ can bring new life here on earth, and the rest is on faith.

After this Good Friday Service, frankly, I am done, and what that means, I have no idea. I am tired of the fight, tired of the struggle, and always having to explain myself. I say loud and clear I have done my best, but as I am told, I am a “fu..k up” repeatedly, so be it.

But what I offer is for each of us to look at ourselves and asked the question–How do I  care for people, and by caring I mean walking with them in person, suffering with them, and getting outside of my tribes?

The world is falling to pieces, people are suffering on the streets, and all around the world–what are you going to do? I may be  done, but are not?

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

http://www.temenos.org

Queer Stations of the Cross

March 22, 2018

JOURNAL OF AN ALIEN STREET PRIEST
Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

In the Passion in the book of John we have Jesus saying, “It is me!”

Today he stands as a person of contradiction waiting to be recognized. A contradiction in that he does not judge us, but recognizes that we judge ourselves in how we love one another. I was asked last night by a young friend, “What do you think the greatest sin is?” And my answer is that of Jesus, “Not loving our neighbor.”

Do we recognize the voice of Jesus in the accent of the panhandler, in the person on the street corner  begging for food, or the person who is in jail? Do we recognize Jesus in our next door neighbor who struggles with loneliness?

Matthew’s Jesus is very clear: the measure which we respond to the anawim, the poor and needy (positively and negatively) is the measure that will be used to judge the quality of our discipleship (25:31-46).

“Many came to believe in him”, but some did not; Jesus was a sign of contradiction, his voice unrecognized by some.  The days ahead offer a perfect opportunity to listen for his call: “It’s me!”, the words now coming in so many different accents and on so many unlikely lips.

As we plan for our “Queer Stations of the Cross,” which will be in the Castro this year, people have said, “It want be the same taking it out of the place where the poor live.”

As I walk through the Castro I see homelessness  in every corner. People sleeping in door ways, the Bart Station, behind businesses, and a majority are youth; In the Castro I see the people who are in poverty trying to survive living in apartments with multiple people; in the Castro I see refugees from other parts of our country who come to San Francisco because of persecution in their states for being LGBTQ.

Good Friday gives us the opportunity to witness to the presence of  Jesus the Contradiction, in being a contradiction ourselves, and to his presence in the midst of the poverty in places we fail to look. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!
—————————————————————-

QUEER STATIONS OF THE CROSS
STRUGGLE FOR EQUALITY

BEGIN AT THE RAINBOW FLAG
AT MARKET AND CASTRO
1:00 P.M. –GOOD FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2018

MARCH THROUGH THE CASTRO AND REMEMBER  CHRIST’S CRUCIFIXION  IN LGBTQ, HOMELESS, AND ALL WHO ARE QUEER

To Volunteer call Fr. River 415-305-2124

———————————————————————————————————————————————————-

WE ARE BEGGARS!

We are beggars for our support which feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, visits those in prison, comforts the dying, and is a presence to any one who comes to us.

Our finances are down, and so if you can give please give through:

Pay Pal found at http://www.temenos.org

or through your check:

Fr. River Sims, D.Min., D.S.T.
Temenos Catholic Worker
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, California 94164-2656

Being an Outsider

March 16, 2018

Being an Outsider

Today I met with my doctor and she told me that she went to a citizens meeting, where the main topic was me. Her conclusion was they were transferring their visible anger towards homelessness on the one person who is visible and sides with homeless youth-me. She reflected now how she understood more fully the stress that I was under, and the threats that come regularly. She said “Your faith is strong, you are strong, and you will probably get through this, but I worry about your loneliness, your isolation, and being an outsider, you are insightful into all of this, and you know the risks, so all I can offer is my support.”

She is right, I do feel like an outsider, very much so. I feel very much alone,  I fight my doubts, and there are nights I do not sleep.l  One person who had promised to pay for a trip for me backed out, and now does not talk to me, others have simply walked away. The City is struggling with homelessness, and unless you have an answer,or support the traditional programs–you are out. I am crying a lot simply because it has built up over the last year, and now I am letting it out.

Last night late I sat with a 19 year old who left a small town to live in

“gay friendly” San Francisco, and instead he has found homelessness, sex for housing and for money, little support from social services, and he was crying and afraid. He feels very much alone, and scared. I had talked to his parents and they do not want anything to do with a “gay son”.  I listened, I fed him, got him a hotel room. That is all I can do, and it depresses me, because this kid from a well to do family will be so violated on the streets he will not be the same. And the City, all of us, stand by and twirl our fingers.

I know I have few people who are real friends-only two I trust, and I doubt them– and to say I am not afraid would be a lie–but what I believe is that until each of us walk with people where they are there will be no changes.

As for me I will stay the course, I will finish the course, and I will face God with the knowledge I have done my best, and when you point your finger, remember four are pointing back at you. Stop judging–get busy–feed someone. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

http://www.temenos.org

In Memory of Daniel Condor

March 12, 2018

Daniel Conder

1982-2018

John 3:14-21

Dan was found dead in Colorado last week. We have known Dan since he was 28 years old. We met on Polk. Dan was hooked on speed, and other drugs, and as we came to know him we found him to be a caring and loving individual.

He was born into a well to do family, whose expectations he found difficult to meet, due to a learning disability, and due to the reality he had other expectations for himself. He became hooked on speed, and found himself on the street, after serving a brief time in the military.

Dan and I had a conversation the last time I saw him in the Haight 2 years ago. He talked about feeling like a failure, only feeling happy on drugs, and the expectations that people have on him, he felt extremely judged. I offered a prayer, bought him a meal, and hugged him.

God loved the world. This is my faith. Central to my faith is the figure of Jesus, lifted on the cross, knowing what it was to be devastated and a”failure” yet offering himself in love for us.

That is the call of Jesus–to be failures, yet offering ourselves in love for others.  To be a success means to “save” people in our images–and that ends up hurting people and ourselves.

A Memorial Service will be planned for next month.
Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

 

Into the Maze

March 6, 2018

Into the Maze

In Dante’s “Infernal” he talked of different places in hell, and frankly I do not know where I am, but I am in a maze, and in hell.  Whether I find my way out of this maze is in question, if I do my life will be given more fully in service. Today I received an email (how personal), from a former long time friend, who was my best friend, and donor. She named all of my “sins”–too generous, treat youth as equals, do not adhere to the boundaries, and make people feel uncomfortable,among so many more, they are unlimited, and I replied, “Remember there are four fingers pointing at you, as well, and when you want to become a donor or friend again than I will listen, so after over a year, please leave me alone, and if you want to vent your anger than face me in person.

What I believe brought this lovely email to my attention was the fact someone saw me at a barbecue at China State Beach yesterday, a barbecue of ten young adults, who go to  school in Marin. Well I was there, and it was a good time, talking, hanging out, and no judgment. They are my friends, and I hang out with them. My best friends are younger than me–I do not see their age, they walked through hell with me these past months, and I will go to hell and back for them–they were there. They are my friends period. And frankly these  two people I trust completely, I trust them more than I have ever trusted anyone.

My therapist is an awesome guy, but the reality is I am not sure I am going to see him much longer, because I frankly put on a show, because when I get honest, he gets scared. One of the reasons psychiatrists refer teenagers to me is I am not afraid, but will sit with them, and listen without worrying about my reputation, I treat them as equals. You have to let go of your own fears and let people enter your life. You have be willing to risk your own life, to serve.  I see my life as a piece of wood that is scarred, and as my life is cut into those scars are shaped into beauty in God’s eyes.  The wood becomes a beautiful piece of art.

A friend gave me a quote as a fifteen year old, which I had forgotten about until this week, and it has kept coming back to me: “There is no valor in compromise,” and I will not compromise on my faith in a God who is all inclusive, and who accepts everyone for who they are, and calls each of us to do the same, giving of our own wealth until everyone is housed, fed, clothed, visited, and accepted. We must all of us give until that suffering ends. I will not compromise on my absolute vow of confidentiality. I will not compromise on my friendship with street people, I accept them as equals. I will not compromise in my belief that it does not matter if you believe in God or not, but it is in the way you treat others. Frankly I have maybe three Christian friends these days.

We live in our tribes, and I have no tribe. So frankly I am angry, angry at people writing emails and face book telling me how to live my life, when you do not know me, and you sit in judgment. I am angry when people put me in a black and white mode, and than when I do not fit in sit in judgment-I will never fit in, I am different, and it is that difference that for the past years has made me who I am and has walked with people no one wants to walk with. And I am done apologizing, period. So whether or not I live or die, which is up in the air, I will always accept you for who you are, but if you choose to sit in judgment-than do not approach me. I will tell you to go to hell. I am done. There are no black and white answers–period.

I walk in a maze, of hell, and whether or not I make it through what I know is that I will walk into the hands of the God who has loved me since my mother’s womb, called me to ministry, walked with me through ordination, rejection and called me to service, and will not be judged. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sim, D.Min.

P.O. Box 6426546

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

What God Want Do

March 4, 2018

What God Want Do!

Luke 15:1-32

The Parable of the Prodigal Son is about what God want do–reject people.

William Stringfellow tells us that “Being holy does not mean being perfect but being whole; it does not mean being exceptionally religious  or being religious at all; it means being liberated from religiosity and religious pietism of any sort.. it does not mean being godly, but rather being human.”

Being a human being is recognizing we are all in the same boat. I was recently told that our state and federal government should take care of the homeless, and my response is being human tells us to give of our money, time, and personal energy to provide for all. It is on us, all of us. 

A friend recently told me I was a “yes man”, and as I reflected on his comment:  what he does not realize is that I have been, am, and will be judged harshly for the way I live my life. I am different. The gift for me is that I do not judge, or tell people how to live their lives and that is the picture I have of Jesus of Nazareth as shown in the parable–he provides no judgment and walks with others on the same path. I jokingly told a friend today that “I will be your role model,” and he replied, “You can never be a role model for me lol.” And he is right, I will never be his role model, we are friends who walk together.

To judge means to separate, make ourselves better, and we each know ourselves better than  anyone else. We listen, walk with people, and help them when they fall, but to judge means to separate.

Notice what the father doesn’t do: When his son asks for his inheritance, the father doesn’t kick him out for being so ungrateful, he does not hire a private investigator to find him when he takes his inheritance to take compromising photos. When the son finally comes back, the father does not make him crawl on his knees, nor change his mind, but throws a big welcome home party. He always loves.

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

 

Never Grow Up!

February 23, 2018

NEVER GROW UP

Recently I was at In and Out in Marin, and an old friend came up to me. I have known him for 10 years, and we chatted.  Last night I received an email from him with these words:

“Dear River, ‘Never grow up!’ Peter Pan” and the comment–“you have helped many, you saved my life when I was 15.”

Last week I was hanging out with two friends and I received a phone call from a friend who has just entered hospice and we talked, and than I went out with my two buddies in the woods where  we played “30 foot Tiger” and I was given a walking stick that one of my  friends named “The staff of Decrepitude”meaning “one who  passed from middle age directly into old age,” which frankly I have felt like since the two surgeries. And I should not have been out there with this shoulder, but I was, and will be again. New Year’s Eve I chose to go to a party of 18 year old’s rather than one of adults, and my rotary cup was broken and I was asked later,  “Why did you not go and be with us adults, and my response, this party was a hell of a lot more fun.”

A couple of weeks ago I did an evaluation for a mental health professional on a young guy, after spending two days hanging out, and the counselor looked at the page, and than looked up and said, “You never reveal anything my client tells you, when you can, but never do you disclose any thing, and your recommendations are always far from anything I would think of and on target, and what I see is you are there friend first of all, but a caring one.” And I replied jokingly, “I am one of the boys.”

This is the road I travel, where it will lead, I have no idea, but it is painful, and yet fun.

“I know success or failure in my life or ministry does not depend on my own skill or even on external circumstances, it depends only on my faithfulness. God will give me the gifts necessary to do whatever He calls me to do, and He will not be hindered in His work by circumstances. “
– Lester Sumrall
Fr. Christian River Sims, D.Min.
http://www.temenos.org
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164
415-305-2124

The Mystery of Absurdity–The Church

February 22, 2018

The Mystery of Absurdity–The Church

Matthew 16: 13-16

I talk about being down the “rabbit hole,” and for me that is the mystery of absurdity–life makes no sense unless one finds a base to hold on to. As my doctor told me a couple of days ago, “You are running on pure will,” and I am. My strength is no longer there.
but what I hold onto is the God in Christ who sustains me in my own depths of pain, fears, and questioning and where I have experienced the body of Christ in these times.

People see the church as an institution that shapes our lives, but any more for me the organized  church is simply the empty shell of the Gospel; the shell of the Gospel–homeless people are not welcome, and it has ethics that tear people’s lives up; it could be a force, instead it is a whimper.

People have questioned my ethics, and have frankly rejected me, but in seminary we were taught “situational ethics” which is meeting people where they are, and that is what I do, I meet people where they are, and I hold out one single carrot–to be loved where you are, and in that God is present. To meet people in the black and white of where one is fails the Gospel message of love. We live in the gray’s of life.

The church for me is with those who give of their lives in service, in the nook and corners of our society, you do not have to be a Christian to be the church, you have to follow the word of love:

“I choose love. No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness, I choose love. Today I will love God and what God loves.”
– Max Lucado, Upwords 

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

Myth of Sisyphus

February 20, 2018

“The Myth of Sisyphus (French: Le Mythe de Sisyphe) is a 1942 philosophical essay by Albert Camus. The English translation by Justin O’Brien was first published in 1955.

In the essay, Camus introduces his philosophy of the absurd, man’s futile search for meaning, unity, and clarity in the face of an unintelligible world devoid of God and eternal truths or values. Does the realization of the absurd require suicide? Camus answers, “No. It requires revolt.” He then outlines several approaches to the absurd life. The final chapter compares the absurdity of man’s life with the situation of Sisyphus, a figure of Greek mythology who was condemned to repeat forever the same meaningless task of pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down again. The essay concludes, “The struggle itself […] is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy”.

A friend told me the other night that in struggling as I do I am like

Sisyphus, pushing a boulder up the hill; and as I have reflected on his comments he is correct. In the last few months I have found myself pushing a boulder that is reflected in many areas.

My friendship with my closest friends is pushing a boulder up the hill, I fail, and I fail a lot.  I have yelled at them, over nothing, I  have let things slip to a mom, simply trying to do right, and I wonder why they even like me, I am very insecure with them, and they have been closer to me than brothers,  but I keep on pushing, the boulder up the hill the struggle fills my heart, I am happy;

Work on the streets is difficult, very difficult, and we see people frustrated, and threats are made, yet in pushing the boulder up the hill I find myself happy.  It is not easy to have people cuss you, have your life threatened, but in pushing the boulder up the hill there is happiness;

With my shoulder in a sling, and doing physical therapy, there is often much pain, and fear, and I am so tired, but I keep on pushing the boulder up the hill the struggle fills my heart, I am happy;

I have failed with a lot of people, and peoples expectations of me are often off. My doctor told me to day, you are going purely on will, right now, and you are suffering, but I keep on pushing the boulder up the hill, the struggle fills my heart, I am happy;

I find meaning in my life through my faith, but the reality is life is absurd, and I struggle with that absurdity through pushing the boulder up the hill; experience  extreme loneliness, and see people sleeping on the street as absurdity, and I keep pushing the boulder up the hill, and the struggle fills my heart and I am happy. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sim, D.Min.

http://www.temenos.org

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

415-305-2124