Peniel August

July 30, 2018

Peniel

August, 2018

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

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

Or

Pay Pal at www.temenos.org

Our web site has been changed to a new server it is much easier to go directly to Pay Pal and give directly through your Pay Pal account

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A Hard Kind of Prayer

June 18, 2021

A Hard Kind of Prayer

Gospel :

Mark 4:35-41With the coming of evening, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Let us cross over to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd behind they took him, just as he was, in the boat; and there were other boats with him. Then it began to blow a gale and the waves were breaking into the boat so that it was almost swamped. But he was in the stern, his head on the cushion, asleep. They woke him and said to him, ‘Master, do you not care? We are going down!’ And he woke up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Quiet now! Be calm!’ And the wind dropped, and all was calm again. Then he said to them, ‘Why are you so frightened? How is it that you have no faith?’ They were filled with awe and said to one another, ‘Who can this be? Even the wind and the sea obey him.’—————————————-“I love the line,“Lord, don’t you care?”because it is so typical of our reactions.Yes, there is a God, but what is he like?Yes, there is a God, but what is he like?Mark is trying to tell us, and like as not, we can’t hear.The sound of the inner wind is deafening us.
“Lord, don’t you care?”We may have to wait out the prayer,wait out the days or weeks,without coming to the quietudewe feel we ought to be able to have.
“Lord, don’t you care?”And that is all we have to offer.So wait there. Offer itDon’t thrash and gnash your teeth wanting to be other thanthe weak and self-interested little disciple in the boat.
The worst aspect of a nervous upheaval–guilt, anger, despair and whatever else is messing up the deeps of our personalities-is trying to counter desperation with desperation.“I have to be good.I have to be the opposite of what I feel:serene, accepting, and peaceful.I have to trust.”
Maybe the kind of trust the Lord is asking for is precisely my putting up with  the experience of knowing, that I am fiercely pulling at his jacket to wake him upand make him into the God I want to be able to please.
It’s a hard kind of prayer.But it acknowledges surrender to the ministrations of a sea I cannot understand.Sr. Miriam Pollard—————————-

    This week one person I encountered stands out. I will call him, Sam, sitting on the corner of Clay/Haight. Sam is around forty, clean-cut, sitting with his backpack, eating candy. He looked very sad.

    Sitting down with him, I simply listened. Sam shared of his wife overdosing on Fenoyal, and almost dying, and he was arrested for the possession of the drug, he talked of his young baby girl dying in an auto accident, and of trauma going back to his childhood.

    Sam talked of always failing, and believed he was a victim of his parents, the police, and society in general. He let trauma victimize him.

    Leaving I  handed him my business card and told him to call any time. Feeling totally drained and reflecting on our conversation thoughts of my own trauma came to mind.

    There has been trauma throughout my life, from being raised in a segregationist community to recently witnessing a young man kill himself, and at every turn, there has been support to lift me up and walk with me. Jesus has always been there.

    As I continued down the street talking and chatting with so many young women and guys whose lives are full of trauma am reminded of the quote:  “that the street transforms every ordinary day into a series of quick questions and every incorrect answer risks a beat down, shooting or pregnancy.”

    More and more as trauma becomes known affecting every one a quote comes to mind:

“When we become truly ourselves,

we just become a swinging door.

We are purely independent of

and at the same time, dependent upon everything. Shunryu Suzuki

        We are dependent upon each other, and in the words of Aesop, “No act o kindness, no matter, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

    Each of us is called to be compassionate and as Fr. Henri Nouwen describes

“Compassion is Being With”:

“Let us not underestimate how hard it is to be compassionate. Compassion is hard because it requires the inner disposition to go with others to the place where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely, and broken. But this is not our spontaneous response to suffering. What we desire most is to do away with suffering by fleeing from it or finding a quick cure for it. As busy, active, relevant people we want to earn our bread by making real contributions. This means first and foremost doing something to show that our presence makes a difference. And so we ignore our greatest gift, which is our ability to enter into solidarity with those who suffer. …

Those who can sit with their fellow brothers and sisters, not knowing what to say but knowing that they should be there, can bring new life into a dying heart. Those who are not afraid to hold a hand in gratitude, to shed tears of grief, and to let a sigh of distress arise straight from the heart can break through paralyzing boundaries and witness the birth of a new fellowship, the fellowship of the broken.

    The Divine is always present and will assist us in being lifted up, seeing our trauma as a result of circumstances, and assist in transforming our lives.

Whether we live in poverty, on the streets, middle class, or wealthy, we can come to terms with our trauma. We can live out the hard kind of prayer, in being the presence of the Divine in the fellowship of the broken! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, DMin.

PO Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

www. temenos.org

415-305-2124

A Hard Kind of Prayer

June 17, 2021

A Hard Kind of Prayer

Gospel :

Mark 4:35-41With the coming of evening, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Let us cross over to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd behind they took him, just as he was, in the boat; and there were other boats with him. Then it began to blow a gale and the waves were breaking into the boat so that it was almost swamped. But he was in the stern, his head on the cushion, asleep. They woke him and said to him, ‘Master, do you not care? We are going down!’ And he woke up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Quiet now! Be calm!’ And the wind dropped, and all was calm again. Then he said to them, ‘Why are you so frightened? How is it that you have no faith?’ They were filled with awe and said to one another, ‘Who can this be? Even the wind and the sea obey him.’—————————————-“I love the line,“Lord, don’t you care?”because it is so typical of our reactions.Yes, there is a God, but what is he like?Yes, there is a God, but what is he like?Mark is trying to tell us, and like as not, we can’t hear.The sound of the inner wind is deafening us.
“Lord, don’t you care?”We may have to wait out the prayer,wait out the days or weeks,without coming to the quietudewe feel we ought to be able to have.
“Lord, don’t you care?”And that is all we have to offer.So wait there. Offer itDon’t thrash and gnash your teeth wanting to be other thanthe weak and self-interested little disciple in the boat.
The worst aspect of a nervous upheaval–guilt, anger, despair and whatever else is messing up the deeps of our personalities-is trying to counter desperation with desperation.“I have to be good.I have to be the opposite of what I feel:serene, accepting, and peaceful.I have to trust.”
Maybe the kind of trust the Lord is asking for is precisely my putting up with  the experience of knowing, that I am fiercely pulling at his jacket to wake him upand make him into the God I want to be able to please.
It’s a hard kind of prayer.But it acknowledges surrender to the ministrations of a sea I cannot understand.Sr. Miriam Pollard—————————-June 17, 2021    This afternoon, my friend Edwin, 19, who lives in the K, the poorest section of Marin, where the majority of people of Mexican descent live, came in for a tattoo. Afterward, he took me out to dinner.    Edwin and I met when he was fifteen and I was recovering from surgery. During the months of recovery, he and his friends always were around, and through them, God healed my spirit. Jesus always pulls you out of the “depths” through those you never expect.    As we sat at dinner, he placed his arm over near mind, and commented: “River, I am as white as you are, no wonder I never thought of you as being one of those “white” people”  LOL. I have never seen him as anything but my friend, my bro, Edwin.Fr. Henri Nouwen says to us:“One of the greatest human spiritual tasks is to embrace all of humanity, allow your heart to be a marketplace of humanity, to allow your interior life to reflect the pains and the joys of people not only from Africa and Ireland and Russia and Cuba but also from people who lived in the fourteenth century and will live many centuries forward. Somehow, if you discover that your little life is a part of the journey of humanity and that you have the privilege to be part of that, your interior life shifts. You lose a lot of fear and something really happens to you. Enormous joy can come into your life. It can give you a strong sense of solidarity with the human race, with the human condition. It is good to be human.”    Today we remember the “Martyrs of “Mother Emanuel”, who in the early evening on June 17, 2015, while in prayer were murdered in Charleston, South Carolina.    I also remember  Dylan Roof the perpetrator, who himself was a victim of trauma, severe trauma of a culture of racism, and of a family, who ingrained him with that prejudice.     Trauma is a part of our lives, we either become its victim or we work to overcome that trauma, to see that by working through the trauma we can find joy.    This is why I do not believe in the death penalty, we must face the consequences of our actions, but those consequences can be of mercy, and in that mercy, we begin to face our demons and work through that trauma into a new life. Justice must come with mercy and compassion. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!————Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.P.O. Box 642656San Francisco, CA 94164http://www.temenos.org415-305-2124

Yearning for Perfection

June 15, 2021

Peniel

“Where Jacob Wrestled With God. “

Newsletter of Temenos Catholic Worker

July 2021

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Journal of An Alien Street Priest:

Yearning for Perfection

“You have heard it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.

But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; so that they may be children of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on the bad as well as the good, and sends down rain to fall on the upright and wicked alike. For if you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Do not even the tax collectors do as much? And if you save your greetings for your brothers and sisters, are you doing anything exceptional? Do not even the gentiles do as much? YOU MUST THEREFORE BE PERFECT, JUST AS YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER IS PERFECT?” Matthew 5: 43-48

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    Jesus calls us to be “perfect, just as “your Heavenly Father is perfect,” and elsewhere tells us to aim for perfection, to practice until we reach perfection. Our goal is to “be perfect, and that goal is found in our love of our neighbor-it is a goal that we must practice, and practice each day, we never stop working at perfection, doing so in following the Great Commandment:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all that mind, strength and soul, and love  thy neighbor as thyself.”

    In reading the Gospel we can find three ways in which we can “work our salvation in fear and trembling,(Philippians 2:3):

    First, we can love without judgment. Meeting people where they are, not trying to change them, gives them the possibility of transformation; recognize that all of us suffer, we all have trauma in one form or another.

    Second, learn to listen. We live in a time when listening seems to have faded away–social media–texting, snap chatting, email-have replaced the gift of listening.      Listening, without judgment is a balm of the soul. When we can express our feelings to another without judgment, we encounter the Divine Presence.

    Listening allows us to release our tensions, and in talking we see all sides and find transformation.

    Thirdly:

“Compassion lies at the heart of our prayer for your fellow human beings. When I pray for the world, I become the world; when I pray for the endless needs of the millions, my soul expands and wants to embrace them all and bring them into the presence of God. But in the midst of that experience, I realize that compassion is not mine but God’s gift to me. I cannot embrace the world, but God can. I cannot pray, but God can pray for me. When God became as we are, that is, when God allowed all of us to enter his intimate life, it became possible for us to share in his infinite compassion.” Fr. Henri Nouwen

    God calls us to let our fellow travelers enter into our hearts, and in doing so we encounter the Divine. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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Fourth of July Barbecue in the Haight:

    Beginning at Noon, on the Fourth of July we will begin barbecuing veggie hot dogs, and veggie burgers, with a  side dish of baked beans at Stanyon and Haight. We will begin set up at 11:00 a.m.

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WE ARE BEGGARS:

   We provide pastoral care, food, socks, and other necessities on Polk Street, and the Haight and we come to you as beggars, please give as you feel lead:

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

The Tenderness of the Love of Jesus–His Sacred Heart!

June 14, 2021

The Tenderness of the Love of Jesus–His Sacred Heart

Hosea 11:1, 3-4, 8 c-9; John 19:31-37

“O Heart of Jesus, treasure of tenderness,

You Yourself are my happiness, my only hope.

You who knew how to charm my tender youth,

Stay near me till the last night.

Lord, to you alone I’ve given my life,

And all  my desires are well-known to you.

It’s in your ever-infinite goodness

That I want to lose myself, O Heart of Jesus!

Ah! I know well, all our righteousness

Is worthless in your sight.

To give value to my sacrifices,

I want to cast them into your Divine Heart.

You did not find your angels without blemish.

In the midst of lighting; you gave your law!.  .

I hide myself in your Sacred Heart, Jesus.

I do not fear, my virtue is You!. .

To be able to gaze on your glory,

I know we have to pass through fire.

So I, for my purgatory,

Choose your burning love, O heart of my God!

On leaving this life, my exiled soul

Would like to make an act of pure love,

And then, flying away to Heaven, it’s Homeland

Enter Straightaway into your Heart.”

(Therese of Lisieux)

———————————————-     Recently I had a rose tattooed on my neck, to remind me that Jesus, loves me, that he shed his blood for all of  our redemption, calling us to move out into new life, taking care of one another, bringing the Kingdom of God into being.

    As we move back into full function in society, all will seem on the surface as business as usual. Restaurants in full swing, the Opera and all the play houses coming back to function etc.

    The reality is that many, and I mean many are psychologically suffering, their lives for over a year have been under threat of an illness that is possibly fatal, secondly  they have basically been locked in their housing; there are more homeless, people who had jobs and housing a year ago,and no more; and there are few mental health services for the majority.

    Many, many, of us live on the “Borderlands”, walking in a wilderness of unknowing. When one sees death, and so much suffering, we find ourselves, on that  thin line–between life and death, that is the “borderland,s” that is where I find myself.

    I am not sure I am saying the right thing most of the time,  I cry a lot, I listen and listen with full intent, and wonder, is this helpful?And this I hear from so many people, they simply do not know what world they are in.

     A young  homeless 19 year old  guy, asked me late last night, “Does God really care?” “Does he care if I might be gay!” “Does he care I am homeless?”

    Hard questions to answer for someone suffering so. And they are hard to answer when religion is used as a weapon so much these days.

    And I answered yes, an absolute yes. I told him I trusted Jesus when I was on the streets; when two weeks ago I was taken to the hospital in Sacramento, delirious with fever, I trust him when people hate me, ignore me, say hateful things about me, and that that trust does not always get us what we always want, but ultimately God cares. I told him, “God cares in that I am listening, giving you food, a place to shower, some food, and a place to sleep for the night.” It is always “little by little.”

    The Sacred Heart of Jesus reminds us of God’s love for us  so much that Jesus suffered on the cross, spilling his blood, and continues to suffer, and will bring us to wholeness, God will never give up. His Sacred Heart call us  to care, to love, and to provide for others. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

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Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

Mahatma Gandhi

When the Rough Winds Blow God is the Windbreaker

June 13, 2021

When the Rough Winds Blow God is the Windbreaker!

“26. He also said, ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the land. 27. Night and day, while he sleeps, when he is awake, the seed is sprouting and growing; how, he does not know. 28. Of its own accord the land produces first the shoot, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29. And when the crop is ready, at once he starts to reap because the harvest has come.’ 30. He also said, ‘What can we say that the kingdom is like? What parable can we find for it? 31. It is like a mustard seed which, at the time of its sowing, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth. 32. Yet once it is sown it grows into the biggest shrub of them all and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade.’ 33. Using many parables like these, he spoke the word to them, so far as they were capable of understanding it. 34. He would not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything to his disciples when they were by themselves.”
Mark, 4 – Bíblia Católica Online
    Monday June 7, 2021

Mustard branches are gangly, and no bird of any size could make its nest in one. The nest would slide off, or the branch would break. Few would find much shade under the cover of a mustard branch. So either Jesus was an ignorant townie or else he was gently, lovingly teasing. The dream of Israel, Ezekiel tells us, was to become like a magnificent, towering Lebanon cedar, the greatest tree in the Middle East. But Jesus says that God’s promise of home was to be fulfilled in this tough weed, and was without any pretentions or glory.       Once it has been sown, the mustard bush is hard to get rid of. Barbara Reed remarks, “So too is the tenacious faith of those who seem to be of no account.”  Despite all efforts of opposition to get rid of it, the bush hangs on, as it will untill the Lord comes again and humanity finds its home in God.

    Through the years, one question  which has been asked of me,  “how much longer are you going to stay in San Francisco?” And the answer is when I came here, I took a vow to God, of “stability,” and I have been praised, condemned, and ignored through these years, but I stay. There are times I want to walk away, but I stay, and in staying like the mustard seed become tough, thorny, and unable to be sit on or walked on.

    I see that toughness in the one’s on the street.

    Haight Street is a street of wealth and tourism, but at the very bottom or the street kids. Each day one encounters the toughness of the mustard tree. One afternoon there  Sue who was drawing, and another individual spit and hit her, a cop standing nearby, told Sue to leave, she “was causing trouble,” an older man screamed at me and threw  his food in my face saying, “that’s not what I want,” I sat with one twenty two year old for several hours,  as he babbled about suicide, finally he he moved on to another suject, and than there was another trying to sell me his wisdom tooth.

June 8, 2021

    Today most of the day was spent in zoom meetings, and as I began the last one on Pride, my mind went to my young friend , throwing the term of pan-sexual around in his Texas town, and the response resulted in his suicide; and as I was walking into Walgreens, James, asked me for some canned beef stew. He is 50ish, on the street for as long as I have been here, dirty, haggard looking; his face went ino the a smile that shines  like the stars when I handed him three cans of beef stew.  All are mustard trees, who will stand strong  for eternity, and will hear the words of the Apostle Paul: “As surely as God is trustworthy, what we say to you is not both Yes and No. The Son of God Jesus Christ, who was proclaimed to you by us. .was never Yes and No; his nature is always Yes. For in him is found the Yes to all God’s promises and therefore it is through him that we answer Amen to give praise to God. It is God who gives us . .a sure place in Christ. (2:18-20).

The Rough Winds Blow But God Always is the Wind Breaker

June 9, 2021

     Today will be spent mostly in solitude, for in the words of Henri Nouwen: “in solitude, we come to know the Spirit who has already been given to us. The pains and struggles we encounter in our solitude thus become the way to hope, because our hope is not based on something that will happen after our sufferings are over, but on the real presence of God’s healing Spirit in the midst of these sufferings. The discipline of solitude allows us gradually to come in touch with the hopeful presence of God in our lives, and allows us to taste even now the beginnings of the joy and peace that belong to the new heaven and the new earth.”

    Each time I walk out of my door there is pain in the doorways surrounding me, physical and psychological pain; there is pain in my on life, but what I have found to ease my pain, and that of others is found in the prayer  of Caesar Chavez:

“Grant me the courage to serve others; for in service there is true life.”

    The Rough Winds Blow But God Always is the Wind Breaker

June 10

    “. .Now this Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us with our unveiled faces, like mirrors reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the image that we reflect in brighter and brighter glory; this is the working of the Lord who is Spirit.. 2 Corinthians 3:16-17

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    This past year of wearing masks and staying a has kept us isolated, very much alone, and out touch with others. In the hospital when I stood by someone breathing their lasts I always took my mask off, so they could see my face, and my expression of being present. Working on the street I very seldom wore a mask, but keeping separation six feet a part because wearing the mask prevented them seeing my reflection, my humor, sorrow, happiness, and seeing my face made people feel comfortable.

    Unmasking we can also show our anger and hate. This morning walking home from  the post office, wearing a “Black Lives Matter” teeshirt, a young guy carrying flowers in front of me began screaming “Take, that damn shirt off,” not wearing a mask I could  see his hate, and  anger, his eyes bristled, as I moved rapidly across the street. He moved on shouting racist remarks.

    In reflecting on my lack of fear, smiling with compassion, and moving away without saying a word, the words of Henri Nouwen came to mind:

In true solidude  three is an unlimited space for others because we are empty. In this poverty nobody stands over and against us, because our enemy is only our enemy as long as we have something to defend. But when we have nothing to hold on to or protect, when we have nothing we consider exclusively ours, than no body will threaten us.

Rather, in the center of our solitude we meet all men and women as brothers and sisters. In true solitude, we stand so naked and so vulnerable before God, and we become so totally aware of our dependency on God’s love –that not only our friend’s but also those who kill, lie, torture, rape, and wage wars become a part of our flesh and blood.

Yes, in true solidtude we are so totally empty and poor that we find our solidarity with brothers and sisters everywhere. Our hearts, full of God and empty of fear and anger, become a welcoming home for God and for our whole human family on earth.

    For once I hit a home run. Fr. Henri teaches us well, let us unveil our faces and find true freedom.

    Nouwen sums up the teaching of the mustard seed, we unveil our faces, and stand in poverty, and nothing will hurt us.

The Rough Winds Blow But God Always is the Wind Breaker

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

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Book Review=Circling the Elephant

June 9, 2021

Circling the Elephant

A Comparative Theology of Religious Diversity

By

John Thatamanil

          Anantanand Rambachan, of St. Olaf University writes:

Circling the Elephant is a compelling case for Interreligous learning in our times, grounded in a convincing critique of religious traditions as impermeable historical fortresses. Theological openness to the wisdom of our neighbors’ traditions richly illustrated by stories of the creativity and transformation that flow from such deep human encounters. Thatamanil’s work is a new and valuable resource for comparative theology of all religious diversity, and constructive theology across traditions.”

          Religion has been used as a weapon through the centuries, and in the twentieth and twenty first centuries we have seen it used in the most destructive of ways.

          This book presents “religion” as a search for the Divine, and that all faith persuasion are ways of the expressions of that search.

          The criticism of this book is that it is written for professionals in the field of theology. Faith is found in the lives of people, and in their struggles, and this book simply is very academic, and frankly boring.

In the Upper Room

June 6, 2021

At Home in the Upper Room

Mark 12:38-44. In his teaching he said, ‘Beware of the scribes who like to walk about in long robes, to be greeted respectfully in the market squares, 39. to take the front seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets; 40. these are the men who devour the property of widows and for show offer long prayers. The more severe will be the sentence they receive.’ 41. He sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the treasury, and many of the rich put in a great deal. 42. A poor widow came and put in two small coins, the equivalent of a penny. 43. Then he called his disciples and said to them, ‘In truth I tell you, this poor widow has put more in than all who have contributed to the treasury; 44. for they have all put in money they could spare, but she in her poverty has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on.’

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Mark, 14 :12-16, 22-26

On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was sacrificed, his disciples said to him, ‘Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?’ 13.So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the city and you will meet a man carrying a pitcher of water. Follow him, 14.and say to the owner of the house which he enters, “The Master says: Where is the room for me to eat the Passover with my disciples?” 15.He will show you a large upper room furnished with couches, all prepared. Make the preparations for us there.’ 16.The disciples set out and went to the city and found everything as he had told them, and prepared the Passover. / 22.And as they were eating he took bread, and when he had said the blessing he broke it and gave it to them. ‘Take it,’ he said, ‘this is my body.’ 23.Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he handed it to them, and all drank from it, 24.and he said to them, ‘This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, poured out for many. 25.In truth I tell you, I shall never drink wine anymore until the day I drink the new wine in the kingdom of God.’ 26.After the psalms had been sung they left for the Mount of Olives.

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    Schwenckfield was a man who expressed one of many fractions of the Reformation. He was friends with Martin Luther who turned on him.

      Our times are not much different than the times of Luther and the reformers. We fight brutally for what we believe, but we have social media to use and hide behind.

    One of the key themes of Casper,  by which he lived and was the heart of his faith was the element of love. Throughout his struggle, he lived out the Gospel of love.

    Casper did not believe in the Eucharist, because it was assumed you were taking
Christ into yourself, when in reality we should let the Spirit enter into our lives.

“I have left the shadows and externals of religion and found the true substance; Jesus
Christ Himself! Christ, the bread and wine. Christ, our supper. Christ, our high priest. Christ our baptism. Christ, the living Word of God. Christ’s suffering is our suffering, His death, our death; His burial our burial. His resurrection our resurrection. . . He is our life, our joy, our hope, and our future. He is everything.”

    In many ways not much changes, for example, the Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church are discussing the forbidding of the President from taking Holy Communion–over his position on abortion; Our churches continue to make their buildings museums, by not using them to be out on the streets. In the past year, homeless people surround us. Our church doors remain closed, while they sleep on the street.

    The “rose tattoo” above is one I recently received, it symbolizes the Christ crucified, Christ shedding his blood for our sins, and calling us back to serve those among us, as he would, with the same willingness to die. This is the essence of Casper’s teaching, living out our faith in love.

    We close with a prayer by Casper:

O, Lord, gracious Father, I do not desire what is yours, but You, Yourself, I crave and seek. You are not dearer to me when You give me much and when all is well with me, and not less dear when You give me little and when not all is well with me. It is right and just that you should give me as much as You will. You have the right and authority. You are the Lord;  I am but your poor worthless servant. You have the right and the power over me, but not I over you. Therefore I will ever be conscious of you and calm my heart in your goodness. I will neither be,  neither live nor die, know not, nor not know, have nor lack, only what you will, as much as you give me, for that will I wait daily, will adapt and prepare myself thereto, and I will love you equally well. Your will be done, O my God,  Father through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

Grace Upon Grace

June 1, 2021

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Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Luke 1:39-56: Mary set out at that time and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women, you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honored with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’ And Mary said: ‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit exults in God my saviour; because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid. Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed, for the Almighty has done great things for me. Holy is his name, and his mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear him. He has shown the power of his arm, he has routed the proud of heart. He has pulled down princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things, the rich sent empty away. He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his mercy – according to the promise he made to our ancestors – of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants forever.’ Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then went back home.

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    The story of Mary and Elizabeth meeting after finding out they were pregnant illustrates the central truth of grace upon grace. Mary followed instinct and accepted her pregnancy and Elizabeth, an older woman became pregnant.

    They provide us a glimpse into the meaning of the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “It is only with gratitude that life becomes richer.” They lead us in finding gratitude.

    The death of my young friend by suicide on zoom has burst open my heart in grief overall experienced the past year–the pain on the street and the deaths from the pandemic, and the realization the division between the have’s and the have not’s will increase.

    The door of my heart which had been closed in grief is now open, and I see the people who walk with me these days and am grateful.

    I grieve in the realization that the words of Luke are true:

Luke 16:19-31

 19. ‘There was a rich man who used to dress in purple and fine linen and feast magnificently every day. 20. And at his gate there used to lie a poor man called Lazarus, covered with sores, 21. who longed to fill himself with what fell from the rich man’s table. Even dogs came and licked his sores. 22. Now it happened that the poor man died and was carried away by the angels into Abraham’s embrace. The rich man also died and was buried. 23. ‘In his torment in Hades he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off with Lazarus in his embrace. 24. So he cried out, “Father Abraham, pity me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames.” 25. Abraham said, “My son, remember that during your life you had your fill of good things, just as Lazarus his fill of bad. Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony. 26. But that is not all: between us and you a great gulf has been fixed, to prevent those who want to cross from our side to yours or from your side to ours.” 27. ‘So he said, “Father, I beg you then to send Lazarus to my father’s house, 28. since I have five brothers, to give them warning so that they do not come to this place of torment too.” 29. Abraham said, “They have Moses and the prophets, let them listen to them.” 30. The rich man replied, “Ah no, father Abraham, but if someone comes to them from the dead, they will repent.” 31. Then Abraham said to him, “If they will not listen either to Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead.”

Dr. Jacques Attali, a professor of economics at the Polytechnique in Paris and president of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development wrote in 2003:

By 2050, 8 billion people will populate the earth. More than two-thirds will live in the poorest countries. Seeking to escape their desperate fate, millions will attempt to leave behind their misery to seek a decent life elsewhere. But neither the Pacific nor the European spheres will accept the majority of poor nomads. They will close their borders to immigrants. Quotas will be erected and restrictions imposed.  (Renewed social norms will ostracize foreigners. Like the fortified  cities of the Middle Ages, the centers of privilege will contract barriers of all kinds trying to protect their wealth.”

    The streets of this country are full of homeless people, mental illness without treatment is widespread on the treat, racism and homophobia are alive and well. Our hearts need to be changed.

    We need to enter into the lives of others, laws will solve the problem for a while, but they change. It is in seeing others as human beings like us, that we can come together and work and love all in need. It is in sharing our wealth, that all can have what they need.

    So I grieve, and in grieving I find grace upon grace in being challenged to follow Jesus, simply to follow, and to love others. I am called simply to do my part.

    Grace upon grace brings hope in the reign of God, and there is grief, but in looking to Jesus, I know all will be well. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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Book Reviews

To Write Every Wrong

The Making and Unmaking of One impossible Minor Prophet

By Dave Andrew

    Dave Andrews, who is 70, writes his autobiography, talking of his ministry.

    Reading To Right Every Wrong is like finding some lost compilations of Bob Dylan and discovering a treasure trove of new versions of his greatest hits, lost gems, and some fresh material. Dave Andrews, the original Christ-anarchist, reflects on a lifetime of living among and serving the poor and calling others to join him, and the result is operatic!

    Dave reminds me that in following Jesus, one finds joy, hope, and strength!

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Samaritan Cookbook

A Culinary Odyssey

from the Ancient Israelites

To the Modern Mediterranean

by  Benyamim Tsedaka

    Benyamim Tsedaka is an elder of his people and head of the Israelite Samaritan Information Center.

    His cookbook is a love letter to his people and his culture. It is the first Samaritan Cookbook, written and takes us on an adventure into this little-known world of Israelite food and drink.

    We journey to both the halves of the community: in Holon, outside Tele Aviv, and Kiryat Luza, on Mount Gerizim near Nablus. Most people have heard the Parable of the Good Samaritan, but few realize that the community is once again going strong today, must less tasted or prepared much less tasted or prepared any of their cuisines. Despite almost fading from the history books, the Samaritan way of life has survived 3000 years in the Holy Land. From hummus and avocado sesame salad to lamb meatballs with pine nuts and chicken with za!atar, Samaritan culture is a unique blend of Mediterranean traditions, reflecting the flavors and spices of contemporary Arabic and ancient Levantine neighbors.

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

Solitude

May 29, 2021

Solitude

Feast of the Holy Trinity

Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40; Romans 8:14-17; Matthew 28:16-20

We often think of “solitude” as a time of being alone, meditating, “but that is not the solitude of St. John the Baptist, of St. Anthony or St. Benedict, of Charles de Foucault or the brothers of Taize. For them solitude is not a private therapeutic place. Rather, it is a place of conversion, the place where the old self dies and the new self is born, the place where the emergence of the new man and the new woman occurs (Nouwen).”

Through the past months of the pandemic, as death has been near, on the streets and in the hospital, seeing people suffer, die alone, and homeless, I have become more and more “professional”-[-distant, closing the door of my heart to prevent pain.

And suddenly on March 26, talking to a young man on zoom, his blood covers the screen as he dies, and  the words of Rabindranath Tagore’s describe my response: “Within me there is a great disturbance/that has broken down all bars and doors.”   Suddenly as Neil Douglas-Klotz notes “You thought  you were going in one direction and toward a specific goal, but a mysterious doorway has appeared that seems to lead in a new direction.”

I was startled awake  this morning by a nightmare of being covered in blood, seeing all the ways in which I have hurt people through the years, and of complicity in hurting people:

“The door swings open,

you look in:

It’s dark in there,

most likely spiders,

nothing you want.

You feel scared.

The door swings closed.

(Margaret Atwood).

The door swings shut when I  let “self-pity” enter into my soul–but in opening the door, having the willingness to go within, inviting faith into that solitude, finding inner strength growth will come, finding conversion within.

In the painting above we find a picture of all of us, we are a mixture of grey–good and bad, for as “sinners” we hurt ourselves through the hurting of our community.

I am getting a tattoo tomorrow of a red rose, to remind me of the Crucifixion Christ which cleanses us of our “sin”, by entering into our humanity in his fullness, giving us a new chance every day.

Thomas Merton offers of confidence about the inward journey, on which we can find strength for the days ahead, and a time of seeing the redeeming power of Christ in our lives, and our lives being surrounding by the Creator, Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit:

The Christ we seek is within us, in our inmost self, is our inmost self, and yet infinitely transcends ourselves. This is the very root of our being. Therefore, what are we called to do is to live as habitually and constantly as possible with great simplicity on this level of love which proceeds from the depth of our own being where Christ reigns and loves. This is a dimension of love which no one can take away unless we close the door ourselves and no one can bring it in unless we open the door to Christ, opening our hearts to Christ dwelling there.

Let us stand before the door of our hearts and open them. Remember Revelation 3:21: “Anyone who proves victorious I will allow to share my throne, just as I have myself overcome and have taken my seat with my Father on his throne. Let anyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saving to the churches.” 

In solitude, the Holy One stands at the door we are to open. Do not be afraid. Love in the fullest form accompanies us. Take a deep breath. Unlock the door. Reach slowly for the handle, and swing wide the door of your heart. In opening the door of our heart we find our hearts being converted into love. We move out to love our neighbor. Change only comes when hearts are converted. No law brings lasting change, but only in our hearts changing to love, seeing our neighbor as ourselves. for in the words of Fred Rogers: Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like “struggle.” In the Name of the Creator,
Redeemer,

and Sustainer.

Amen.

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

P.O. Bos 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

Community Is A Quality of Heart

May 24, 2021

A Book Review of Lovers In the Wilderness

by Stephanie Rutt

Lover’s in the Wilderness, is a guide of creating a rich inner prayer life through mantra prayer. Rutt offers tools from various religions traditions.

    Through mantra prayer community can beceome a reality as we let God speak to us in our hearts.

    Community first of all is a quality of the heart–a quality that touches all with whom we meet in our outer lives–the people we work with, live with, play with, and encouter in all walks of life. Community are the homeless, the disenfranchised,–all people in life, and all creation.

    Suffering trauma the last few week has taken me back through the years, and the coming burial of a childhood teacher whose influence placed me on  my journey in life has brought community around me, both living and dead. I see the hundreds of people who have journeyed with me.  Having lunch with my friend Matt yesterday, laughing about the journey of the last eight years, all brought the meaning of community home.

    Several weeks ago on his birthday Gary, 50, and I celebrated the twenty plus years, we have known each other, and talked of his own journey living on the streets, and of the community that had supported him.

    My seventeen year old friend who recently committed suicide, is very vividly in community with me. He and I are struggling intensely with each other, and will for sometime, but there is community in this struggle.

    Community is a quality of heart of loving without expecting anything in return and that comes from trusting in God, knowing that all those whom you love are hidden in his heart.

    This truth will not solve all of our pains and problems, but it can set us free at times to travel on and to move forward even though our emotions can make us feel very lonely.

    Rutt teaches to keep close to our Sacred Writings, and for me those writings are the Bible and taste them to their fullest. There is a very deep hunger in all of us for life in the Spirit which needs to be continuously nurtured by the Word of God.

    Through our inner prayer, and nurturning by the Word we will be set free to nurture others, we are turned from our own self-centeredness to love of others. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org