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

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Seeing Only Jesus

August 6, 2020

Feast of the Transfiguration

Bombing of Hiroshima

Only Jesus

“Then Jesus came over and touched them. ‘Get up’, he said, ‘Don’t be afraid. And when they looked up, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus.” Matthew 17:7-8

(Day 1)

    Today is the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and as we remember the transfiguration of Jesus in the light of glory, we also remember all those who were tragically and senselessly transfigured by the first nuclear blast. May their memory help us see the way to peace in our own lives, and our nation in our time.

    When one experiences the threat of death–from atomic bombs, war, sickness, and when one stands with people in their journey with illness and death–all that really matters is the preciousness of life and in that reflection we remember a story from the desert fathers:

“Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said to him, ‘Abba, as far as I can I say my little office,I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace and as far as I can, I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?’ Than the old man stood up and stretched his hands towards heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him, ‘If you will, you can become all flame”.

    And in that flame we see only Jesus. Our call is to enter the flames and see only Jesus and in doing so we see the preciousness of life, and we lose our fear and judgment of others, and our prejudice.      And for me whatever the future holds, I enter the flame, and hear the words of Jesus, “Don’t be afraid,” and “see only Jesus.” Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Crossing the Boundaries of Society

August 5, 2020

Crossing the Boundaries  of Society

“Why do your disciples disobey our age old traditions? For they ignore our tradition of ceremonial washing of hand washing before they eat. .Jesus said: “For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery all sexual immorality, theft, lying and slander. These are what defile. Eating with unwashed hands will  never defile you. Matthew 15: 2; 19

    Jesus broke traditions, boundaries of society in order to reach people with the gospel of life–prostitutes, the poor, the weak, the ill, those who were rejected by society. He was criticized and ultimately crucified because he broke tradition.

    Each day I remember the words of Reverend Michael Dwinell:

If we are faithful to our priestly vocation we stand in the flames of our own fires–a public fire for all to see, that does not consume us and a fire in which we are accompanied byt the “Holy Other” who walks with us.  If we are not faithful to our vocation, I believe that the fire remains within, hidden away inside where it does consume us and where we will thus walk unaccompanied and self-alienated.”

    Where I walk most people have not heard of the church, or if they have it is through being abused physically or psychologically. And I walk their walk, talk their language, dress their way of dressing, and communicate  attempt to communicate care and love. And so I  stand in the center of a rail road track with twenty three trains blinding me, as a friend once predicted my future. I stand in the “flames of my own fire.”

    This pandemic is calling all religious,  social institutions, and all of us to live and work in the “new normal.”

    In the last five months I have seen people suffer, and die alone and in great pain; see people on the streets terrified, hungry, and not sure what is going on; and in them the broken body of Christ calling us to care, to move beyond the political divisions and provide care and love.

    We can talk about a future we do not know or we can live in the present, and create a “new normal,” in which we truly shine like “a beacon on a hill” of justice and equality.  Let us love one another, let us take care of the hungry, the homeless, the naked, the sick and the dying!Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


As of July 17th, San Francisco was placed on the state’s County Monitoring List due to our increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. As a result, indoor malls and nonessential offices must remain closed until San Francisco can improve its Key Public Health Indicators  and no indicators are at level red or “high alert”. Additionally, in response to the City’s surge, further reopening of San Francisco is on pause, with activities and businesses that were previously scheduled to reopen either June 29 or July 13 postponed indefinitely. These include indoor dining, outdoor bars without food, indoor museums and aquariums, outdoor swimming pools, and real estate open houses by appointment. For a full list of allowable activities and recent public health orders, visit

As of July 22, masks or face coverings are now required anytime you are outside the house and within six feet of anyone you don’t live with. You should put on your mask anytime you see someone within 30 feet of you (about the length of a Muni bus) so that you both have time to cover your face.

The only time masks aren’t required is when you are:At home (if you are not around someone at higher risk from COVID-19)Working alone in your own private office (as long as you can put on a face covering quickly if someone enters)In your car alone or if you’re only with people you live withSitting or standing outside alone or with people you live with (such as picknicking outside) and you are more than six feet from others When eating or drinking alone or with people you live with, and nobody else is within six feet Exercising outdoors alone or with people who live with you (walking, hiking, bicycling or running) and no one else is within six feetKids 10 and older must wear a maskChildren 2-9 should wear a mask to the extent feasibleIf you cannot wear a mask, you must wear a face shield that is covered on the bottom. The only exemptions that apply are for people with documented medical exemptions or who cannot safely perform their work in compliance with workplace safety guidelines Requires all hospitals (those with an acute hospital, a clinic operated by an entity with an acute hospital, or a facility with more than 100 health care providers) to conduct same or next calendar day testing for people experiencing symptoms, known or suspected contacts of COVID-19 positive people, and referrals from the Department of Public Health.New COVID-19 Testing requirements:

Through the Kaleidoscope

August 2, 2020


Through the Kaleidoscope

by Elizabeth Jeffries

    Elizabeth Jefferies  in her book Through the Kaleidoscope presents her journey, and struggle with her theology from a rigid evangelical youth to one who through her scientific  education and formation as as PhD research scientist to  see God through a kaleidoscope of various colors, and varied variations.

    She tells the story of a minister known as the Prophet, who came to her church when she was 14 and he gave her the prophecy of a journey on a straight line, but one in which she would  live within a fog of doubt, and ultimately coming out into a new acceptance of her faith which is seen through a kaleidoscope of many different colors and expressions. Her world would no longer be black and white.

    My first year as a student pastor we had to attend a seminar at St. Paul’s Seminary in Kansas City. Late one night as we walked the streets we observed an evangelical black pastor preaching in the street on high platform with a bond fire blazing in a barrel.

    As we walked up to the area he turned to me in particular and proclaimed  this prophecy: “You will be a minister to thousands of young people on a path you never foresaw, follow it, through much doubt and fear, but in the end you find joy in God.”

    Through our journey’s we both have come to identify with this view by Sr. Macrina Wiederkehr:

“While praying. Isaiah 55:1-3,

“Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink–Come, take your choice of wine or milk-it’s all free! Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen to me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food. Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen and you will find life. I will make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the unfailing love I promised David.”

I began to understand that the Word of God is almost always trinitarian in its kinship to me. When I am able to leave behind my own fitful, limited thoughts and actually enter into the Word, I meet the trinitarian God. When I open myself to the Word of God expecting to be transformed, something in me is created a new, restored, and made holy. I am embraced by the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Sanctifier. Through this embrace I am given the wisdom to allow the reshaping of my life. In this embrace I experience the intimacy of being drawn like a magnet into the Divine Presence.”

and in Jeffries  words:

My spiritual practice is my own sensitivity to my experience and relationships. It’s my participation in my own comunity, in something that’s greater than me and greater than any individual. Those moments involve geuine connection with others. They involve relationship. They involve celebration of the life force of which I am a part, the same force that directs my cell’s development, always observable but never quite comprehensible. This spiritual practice evokes the courage of vulnerability and the patience of empathy. It evokes compassion, sensitivity, and a desire to continue seeing the world from new perspectives. My spiritual practice is seeing my world through the kaleidoscope.

    God is a kaleidoscope of many different colors. She accepted her prophet as God’s messenger at fourteen, and I considered my black prophet  in the middle of the night a little scary, but in both our lives we have come to see God through a kaleidoscope of different colors, and to see our service in the words of Jesus in Matthew 14:15-21 as the calling of all of us:

1That evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.”

16 But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.”

17 “But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered.

18 “Bring them here,” he said. 19 Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. 20 They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. 21 About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!

    There was a news story tonight of the crowd’s of people in Los Angles lined up for food, which represent the million throughout the world and our country who are suffering in the Pandemic,  calling is to feed them, we become Jesus through our actions. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Looking at Life Through the Kaleidoscope

July 30, 2020

Looking at Life T’hrough the Kaleidoscope

Through the Kaleidoscope

     One Christmas my parents gave me a kaleidoscope and I was awed by the beautiful colors, that emerged out of what seemed like chaos.

    The beauty of a kaleidoscope can not really be encompassed by rational reduction. So many different perspectives are presented.

    In the same way life is beautiful in all of its beautiful perspectives, and our task is to turn the kaleidoscope, and to keep turning it;  continuing to seek a new perspective and search for what is common among all of those perspectives.

    All of creation, and especially God’s human creation is a kaleidoscope and turning that kaleidoscope is to celebrate diverse, multifaceted ways of perceiving the reality of this unique creation. We learn that no religious or political expression is correct, but forms of human expression, and in those expression beauty is found.

    In looking through the kaleidoscope we see all of the beauty, and the darkness of life, mixed together. For each one of us is neither good nor bad, but a mixture. We are not black and white.

    I was once told in this ministry that I would be standing in the middle of a large rail road track with twenty three trains blinding me, coming straight towards me.

    Those trains come, sometimes daily. But as I pull back I see in the pain that so often results–the glory of the forgiving God. And have learned to do my best (which means I shoot for my bow for the target of goodness, and being non-judgmental  every day, and miss most of the time) to see each of us in that kaleidoscope and to forgive, and see the beauty in each person.

     I spoke to a young man in prison for murder last night, and even though he has gone to the deepest darkness of humanity, the light shines through of a lost, mixed up kid, who really fu.cked up. He may die early as a result, but in him is the light of God.

    The last few weeks I have spent time with people with the corno-virus and people who are in the depths of despair on the street, and through the kaleidoscope one sees their beauty, you love them, love them with all of your heart.

In the midst of it all, here are two truths I’m holding onto—we are deeply loved by a God who is actively at work in this world to make all things new. And, God invites us to actively join him in the work of loving and making things new for our neighbors


Father Christian River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Through the Kaleidoscope

July 29, 2020

Through the Kaleidoscope

O God, listen to my cry!

Hear my prayer!

From the ends of the earth,

I cry to you for help

when my heart is overwhelmed.

Lead me to the towering rock of safety.

Psam 61:1-2

“I wait quietly before God,

for my victory comes from him.

He alone is my rock and my salvation,

my fortress where I will never be shaken. Psalm 62:1-3


        Bishop James E. Walsh on July 10, 1970, a frail and elderly man left the company of the Red Guards and walked across the bridge linking mainland China and the Island of Hong Kong. After twelve years in prison, Bishop James Walsh, the last foreign missionary in Communist China was on his way home.

    When asked why he had not left when the communists took over China he replied: “If we start to pick and choose for ourselves, it is very hard to tell if we are carrying our vocation or running away from it.”

    From time to time in the past twenty six years  someone will ask:”When do you think you will move on?” The reality is like Walsh we have known that if we choose for ourselves than “it is very hard to tell if we are carrying our vocation or running away from it.”  We stray put!

    As a result our life has a part of  a great kaleidoscope expanding in various hues and colors. We have encountered people of all walks of life, creeds, and races, allowing us to see God explode as a kaleidoscope of many religious beliefs,ways of living, and viewing life not as black and white, but many different colors from the darkness of evil to the whiteness of goodness.

    We are in a time of dark hues in that kaleidoscope, and as of Monday there were 233, 517 total cases in California, 6,022  cases in San Francisco, and 56 deaths in San Francisco from the cova-19 virus. These are numbers, from which when we look through and see  the people they encompass we see extreme suffering, and a recovery which appears to be debilitating.

    Darkness over shadows people fearing losing their housing, and people on the street who have little access to food and support. Our soup kitchens are centered in the main part of town, so many are scattered throughout the City, with little food.

    Light comes into play as we witness people from the various religions, the various reflections of the kaleidoscope of God walking on the street, volunteering where they can in service to those in need.

    It has been along time since we have viewed God as a God of judgment, a God who counts all of our “sins”; it has been along time since we have seen “Jesus as the Way! For God created all of us human beings in this great kaleidoscope where the only thing that God calls for us to have in common is to love one another, and in so doing love him.

    Our friend and past professor at Knox Theological Seminary, Dr. Jonathan Linebaugh gave an example of the final judgment which reflects this great Kaleidoscope

    The final judgment will be like a great therapy session where we will all be gathered and for ever how long it takes God will work with us until we can all come out loving each other, leaving behind all of the luggage we have carried throughout out lives.

    We are all a part of a great Kaleidoscope-let us lift our eyes and enjoy the beauty!

Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O.Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Courage to Leap Into Darkness

July 27, 2020

Courange to Leap Into Darkness


Matthew 13:31-35 NLT

31 Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”

Parable of the Yeast

33 Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”

34 Jesus always used stories and illustrations like these when speaking to the crowds. In fact, he never spoke to them without using such parables. 35 This fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet:

    In Stephen King’s movie “The Mist,” horrifying monsters prowl a dense fog that descends on a town in Maine. A few survivors hunker down in a grocery store which they fortify in an attempt to keep the beasts out. When a mother demands to leave so she can rescue her children, the protagonist, a father, argues that going outside is certain death. The woman goes anyway. After the creatures begin to breach their barricades, the father, his son, and two others escape in a car. Some  time later, they run out of gas while their vehicle is butted by abominations, some gigantic, all grotesque. One of the car’s occupants has a pistol with three bullets and, after glimpsing one particularly nasty creature, everyone agrees that a shot in the head is more merciful than what the monsters would do to them. The father kills his son. Two others kill themselves, and then to the father’s shock, the fog lifts, a relief column of trunks drives by and he sees the mother with her children on back of one of them. If the father had only waited three more minutes, his son and companions would have been saved, but how could he know?
    The spiritual truth about profound risk taking is that we never know. Even Jesus sweats blood in the Garden of Gethsemane, because letting himself be crucified seems an excruciating dead end.
    In the early 1970’s Leonard Bernstein composed a dramatic oratorio, Mass, for the inauguration of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C., the work begins with the main figure the Celebrant, preparing for the liturgy with a prayer that cries out for something unexpected: simplicity. “Sings God a simple song. . .God loves all simple things. For God is the simplest of all.”
    God is simple in that all he requires of us is to love our fellow human beings, and in so doing we love God. The courage to really care for one another without judgment is a leap into darkness.
    Fr. Henri Nouwen sums it up:
“Underneath all our emphasis on successful action, many of us suffer from a deep-seated, low self-esteem. . . . And so our actions become more an expression of fear than of inner freedom. . . .
As we keep our eyes directed at the One who says, ‘‘Do not be afraid,” we may slowly let go of our fear. We will learn to live in a world without zealously defended borders. We will be free to see the suffering of other people, free to respond not with defensiveness, but with compassion, with peace, with ourselves.======================
Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min.,, D.S.T.
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164

Walking Through Gotham City

July 25, 2020

Walking Through Gotham City

2 Corinthians 4:7-15

New Living Translation

“7 We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure.[a] This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

11 Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. 12 So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.

13 But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.”[b] 14 We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus,[c] will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. 15 All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.”

In Service We Encounter God
“Radical servant hood does not make sense unless we introduce a new level of understanding and see it as the way to encounter God. To be humble and persecuted cannot be desired unless we can find God in humility and persecution. When we begin to see God, the source of all our comfort and consolation, in the center of servanthood, compassion becomes much more than doing good for unfortunate people. Radical servanthood, as the encounter with the compassionate God, takes us beyond the distinctions between wealth and poverty, success and failure, fortune and bad luck. Radical servanthood is not an enterprise in which we try to surround ourselves with as much misery as possible, but a joyful way of life in which our eyes are opened to the vision of the true God who chose to be revealed in servant hood. The poor are called blessed not because poverty is good, but because theirs is the kingdom of heaven; the mourners are called blessed not because mourning is good, but because they shall be comforted.Here we are touching the profound spiritual truth that service is an expression of the search for God and not just of the desire to bring about individual or social change.” Father Henri Nouwen
    Late last night, and early this morning in the darkness, and grayness of the City, as I walk through the streets I am reminded of Batman’s Gotham City.
    Businesses are closed, their windows boarded up, and the workers in the one’s open are own edge.
    There are all variation of people on the street–the housed, homeless, and mentally ill, most wear masks, but all seem distant and in another world. They are nervous and afraid.
    Mayor Breed and the Governor seem to issue endless orders on staying in, businesses that are closed, and ones that can be opened. Seems like Big Brother is over us and around us.
    San Francisco feels like one of the ghost towns near Palm Springs where John Wayne, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and others made movies so long ago.
    Theresa of Lisieux wrote: “But I want to seek the means of going to heaven by a littleway that is very straight, very short, a completely new little way.”
    Today in the uncertainty of these times seeking the little way brings light in the darkness, as we love and care for each other.
    For me each person I feed, give socks to, visit in the hospital, hang out with, listen to is the little way and brings meaning and hope  to my life. It keeps me going simply walking the little way.
    And the words of Paul sums up my hope, and my prayer for  each person who walks the little way:
We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus,[c] will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. 15 All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.” Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!
    Father River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.
P.O Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164

Mary Madalene: Woman of Shadows

July 24, 2020

Mary Magdalene: Woman of Shadows

Diarmuid Ó Murchú is an Irish poet, author, friend, and member of the Sacred Heart Community. This poem highlights the presence of Mary Magdalene and the women at Jesus’ death and resurrection and invites us to question why we have not honored their role more fully. Poetry is so much better heard than simply read, so for full effect, read these words aloud, perhaps several times.

What happened [to] the women on the first Easter Day
Breaks open a daring horizon,
Inviting all hearts to discern.
Mid the grieving and trauma of loss,
The horror to stand at the foot of a Cross.
A body we think was buried in haste,
And a tomb that was empty but restless in taste.
Empowering a strange group of women. [stanza 2]

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

What happened to those on the first Day of Easter,
The faithful disciples by Magdalene led?
A subverted truth the patriarchs dread.
Beyond all the theories that time has construed,
Beyond the oppression we have too long endured.
The first ones commissioned for Easter proclaim
A woman-led mission we’ve brutally maimed.
But we can’t keep subverting empowerment. [stanza 5]

Resurrection still flourishes and always it will,
Imbued with a truth that time will fulfil.
What women empowered at the dawning breakthrough
will bear fruit in season
despite all the treason.
’Cos justice will render what deserves to endure. [stanza 6] [1]


Father Richard Rhor gives a good summary of the person of Mary Magdalene:

“One of the lessons we might learn from the Gospel stories of Mary Magdalene is that, in the great economy of grace, all is used and transformed. Nothing is wasted. God uses our egoic desires and identities and leads us beyond them. Jesus’ clear message to his beloved Mary Magdalene in their first post-resurrection encounter is not that she squelch, deny, or destroy her human love for him. He is much more subtle than that. He just says to her “Do not cling to me” (John 20:17). He is saying “Don’t hold on to the past, what you think you need or deserve. We are all heading for something much bigger and much better, Mary.” This is the spiritual art of detachment, which is not taught much in the capitalistic worldview where clinging and possessing are not just the norm but even the goal. “

A second lesson we might learn from Mary Magdalene is that of “listening,” for in all portrayals of her in the New Testament she is simply present. The art of listening is especially available during this time of “Staying in Place”, and it is difficult to be with ourselves. for as we look back at our lives we see our “sins”.

    There has been on Facebook a couple of items listing behaviors that most people do through  the years–behaviors that are not flattering–it has never failed for me to check all of them LOL.  And there are many more, many more. We are all sinners, all sinners.

    I am well aware of things I have done, and well aware there will be others. I strive to live in the present, take them and examine and move on. We need to stop holding the wrongs of others under a microscope and look at ourselves.

    During a time of great pain many years ago when he was a young priest, the new Roman Catholic Bishop of Iowa wrote these words to me in response to a note congratulating him:

“Thank you for remembering me on my ordination as Bishop after so many years. I remember well our conversations at Sacred Heart in. …and simply tried to be a brother in Christ to another hurting brother–something  that you made a full time ministry of for so very many years in San Francisco”.

    Bill knew I was a prostitute, and all that went with that occupation, and in  his ministry I found Christ again and was born a new.

    Bill gave  the greatest compliment ever given me: that ministry  is being a “brother to others.” And it is dangerous and risky at times, but during these many years, meaningful and rewarding. There are no regrets.

       Maria EJ Zuhari quotes a friend in these words:

“Most white people have reached a point where they are blind to their privilege because they were born into institutional racism. (my words)– homophobia, sexism, and all that put down others.”

    We can tear down statues, and carry signs, but until we have “a revolution of the heart”, as Dorothy Day once said, we will not change. For Zuhari’s friend  is absolutely correct in her assessment.

    I look at my actions every day, and the past, and remember, that in Jesus we are offered new life, and come to him without judging others.

    That  is what Mary Magdalene offered as the “first apostle,” the”first priest” as she stood strong, and steady at the tomb of Jesus–our hope of a new life in Christ. Deo
Gratias! Thanks be to God!”


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos. org

The Field of the Heart

July 20, 2020

The Field of the Heart

“You have been told, O human one, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: Only to do the right, to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your Lord! Micah 6:8

“Love does no wrong to a neighbor, therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.” Romans 13:10


    Elizabeth Cady Stanton called on the church to stop using scripture to justify the oppression of women;

    Amelia Bloomer was an active abolitionist and temperance advocate who sought freedom for women to use their minds and bodies; 

    Sojourner Truth escaped slavery with the help of Quaker friends, and as a powerful orator on women’s rights she preached on street corners, noticing and advocating for the poor; 

     Harriet Rose Tubman, escaped slavery and answered God’s call to help others gain freedom.

    We see very few statues of these four powerful women being displayed, in fact we see very few statues of women.

    These four women exemplify the core of the Gospel–love of neighbor, they put their love of God in action through loving their neighbor at the risk of their own lives.

    They exemplify the living reality of the Church, a Church that lives outside the walls of its smells and bells suffering for humanity.

    These four women were not “trained”, for their missions, they answered the call. And their summons to us is to answer the call of:

    -feeding the hungry–there is now an estimate of 2 in 4 people going hungry in the Bay Area–one of the wealthiest areas of the country–feed people. Give food each time you leave your house.

    -provide housing–more people are homeless, more people are on the edge of being homeless–if you have a spare room, use it; advocate with the government to loosen  their restrictions and get people in housing.

    -Use the telephone–call one person a day. I received a phone call from a lady yesterday, first call received in months, that I did not make–it was the most rewarding and meaningful moment of my day. Snap chat, texting, fine and good, but ultimately sucks. Become involved in the lives of people.
 Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, Lutheran pastor and author offered this reflection recently:
“I do not know when we can gather together again in worship, Lord.
So, for now I just ask that:When I sing along in my kitchen to each song on Stevie Wonder’s Songs in The Key of Life Album, that it be counted as praise. (Happy 70thBirthday, SW!)And that when I read the news and my heart tightens in my chest, may it be counted as a Kyrie. And that when my eyes brighten in a smile behind my mask as I thank the cashier may it be counted as passing the peace.And that when I water my plants and wash my dishes and take a shower may it be counted as remembering my baptism.And that when the tears come and my shoulders shake and my breathing falters, may it be counted as prayer.And that when I stumble upon a Tabitha Brown video and hear her grace and love of you may it be counted as a hearing a homily.And that as I sit at that table in my apartment, and eat one more homemade meal, slowly, joyfully, with nothing else demanding my time or attention, may it be counted as communion.Amen.-Nadia Bolz-Weber”
Father River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164

The Certainty of Death

July 17, 2020


Let your love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good. .”If your enemies are hungry feed them; if they are thirsty give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:9, 20-21


“Life is not to be neat, tidy, well put together,

but an adventure to be lived wildly,

so that when we slide into home base at the end we will be saying, “What a ride! What a ride! E.W.Bartley, Jr.


“Seek the truth for yourself and I will meet  you there.”

    I remember a rainy Spring night in rural Missouri, on a gravel road, returning home with my “bro”, and his friend in the car. It was dark, and we slid, and the car turn over in the ditch, and as I dragged myself out of the car my “bro’s” bloody face came in view, his body crushed to death.

    That was the most transformational moment in my life. For in the months to come full blown depression would over take me, dreams of the accident haunted me. And in one dream, sitting with him, I said, “I am really sorry that you died,” and he said something like “Why do you care that I’m dead when you’re still afraid to live?” I woke up crying.

    I began to live, to in a manner of speaking “racing cars”, by throwing off the safety net of fitting in, and through being kicked out of the church, years on the street, and all that has followed since, death is the light by which the shadow of all of life’s meaning is measured.

    For me what matters is sharing the love of Jesus Christ knowing that there is no promise beyond the certainty of death, but that that love transcends all fear, and gives new life.

    Without death, everything would feel in consequential, all experience arbitrary, and all values zero.

    Today I had tests run seeing if I might have cancer, waiting the results I am shaky, but not afraid, for death is a reality;  new studies are showing that the virus forms in such away that it may be impossible in developing a vaccine; the infection rate is rising; and people are afraid, and in that fear acting out. Death is a certainty in all things. We need to face it.

    Ernest Becker tells us that the “terror of death” underlies everything that we do. We have “immortality projects” ie building cities, creating religions, etc, to keep us alive after death. We fight wars over these projects. Our immortality projects are our values, and when they fail so do we psychologically speaking.

    Rather than seek to project our self in these projects in lethal ways we should become comfortable with our own death, and choose values that are free, open to caring for each other and all of creation.

    Death is the only thing we can know with any certainty. And it is the compass by which we orient our values and decisions.

    The lesson I began  learning  that Spring night was that there is nothing to be afraid of. And through the years as I have come to the conclusion that the more I peer into the darkness, the brighter life gets, the quieter the world becomes, and the less unconscious resistance I feel toward to well, anything.

    And I have learned in walking with people to tell them, “Seek the truth for yourself and I will meet you there.” We all must make this journey alone, but it helps to have someone to walk with us. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164