Archive for May, 2014

May 22, 2014

May 22, “Cause For Joy” John 15:9-11  St. Joachima de Vedruna

May is a tough month for all those prescious to me died during this month: my mom, son, and my brother, but  there is joy, joy in Christ, and joy in the hope of the resurrection.  For as I look at Facebook, the newspaper there is little to be joyous about–rising prices,, rising poverty, vioence in the world, but God has planted in us a burning desire to be loving, joyuful, radiant in an ever lasting happiness that nothing can ever take away from us.  To be available we must look upon all others with a joyful hope in their inate goodness. 

We must be wiling to die to selfishness and to embrace the suffering out of which joy can emerge and flow out as a gift to others.  We are gifts of God, and we should share of all of our gifts, material as well as spiritual, all of us and if we did no one would want and in the relationships we would experience much joy. . So be joyful in the Lord. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

VegInspiration
We grow to appreciate the nearly miraculous beauty of cabbages and cauliflower, the fragrance of roasted sesame seeds, sliced oranges, chopped cilantro, and baked kabocha squash, and the wondrous textures of avocado, persimmon, steamed quinoa, and sautéed tempeh.

We are grateful for the connection we feel with the earth, the clouds, the nurturing gardeners, and the seasons, and the tastes are delicious gifts we naturally enjoy opening to, as we would open to our beloved in making love and appreciating the beloved fully. In contrast, eating animal foods is often done quickly, without feeling deeply into the source of the food—for who would want to contemplate the utter hells that produce our factory-farmed fish, chicken, eggs, cheese, steaks, bacon, hot dogs, or burgers? Dr.Will Tuttle

Pride

May 21, 2014

 

I shared this on the internet several days ago and have received eight emails from straight individuals who feel offended, slighted, and frankly that was never in my mind when I posted that.

For me Pride, is a  time of rejoicing and celebrating the victories, and the defeats of being queer.  For I can remember growing up, being so terrified that someone would suspect I was “queer”, for that meant total, and absolute rejection from every one, and possibly physical danger.

I can remember my early years in the ministry watching every move I made so everyone would think that I was straight. I remember with much shame turning my back on several queer young men, one of whom committed suicide, trying to hide my secret. 

I can remember being sent to therapy to “straighten” me out when I came out to my superior, and then I remember being kicked out on my ass when I could not be “straightened out”, without anything.

I remember the years of prostitution and then finding a therapist who guided me to understanding my sexuality as a given by birth, and working with me through my shame.

In twenty years working on the streets I have held the hands of thousands who suffer from their sexual identity issues, one who cut his testicles off trying to be straight; others who have died of AIDS, and many who have never worked through those issues, even here in San Francisco and suffer immensely.  Homophobia, both external and internal, is alive and well, even in San Francisco.

So I do not apologize for two things–being gay, and following Jesus of Nazareth.  We are entering Pride Month, for me Pride is everyday, it is not just about a parade, it is about living my life as free, open, and honest human being. It is about witnessing to  our diversity in all aspects.  Sexuality is not about what we do with certain parts of our bodies, it is who we are in totality. 

I was once asked if I had wished I had been born straight. The answer is “never” because I would never have experienced the diversity of life, the joy of ministry that I have,  and the joy of seeing lives changed in the ways I have seen them changed.  Happy Pride Month! Happy Pride all year long!

Fr. River Damien Sims

May 21, 2014

May 21, “A Life Giving Relatioship” The Baal Shem Tov”, John 15:1-8 “Live in me, make your home in me.. .”

Baal Shem Tov said, the forest, everyw“A person needs no fixed place to say his prayers; among the trees of here one can pray.”  He was saying that everywhere is sacred. It was sacred for me on the Haight last night as I talked, and handed out food, and prayed with several people.  There were cops arresting people for drugs, there were people having sex in the grass, some fighting, but it was sacred.

For me a relationship with Jesus frees me to live out my ministry.  I do so by respecting everyone’s beliefs; my work is my playground with my mind as the conductor,  I live in the moment–the past is past, the future-we may not have one, I do not try to change others, but deal with them appropriately, I do things because I want to do them–plain and simple, love my friends but do not rely on them, embrace impermanence, and my spirituality is created from my relationship to Scripture, reason, experience, and tradition.  And for me being a vegan  has come about because eating plant based food is a way of respecting nature, honoring human beings, Will Tuttle sums it up:

Another reason plant-based foods taste better is that we feel better eating them and contemplating their origins. Eating slowly, we enjoy contemplating the organic orchards and gardens that supply the delicious vegetables, fruits, and grains we’re eating.

People are always trying to understand the way I live, because I do not fit into a round whole, and the realtiy is the life that I have chosen is one based on my following the Way, ande in my relationship with Christ.  It works for me, it works for me well, and I enjoy every moment.   It is one of the reasons I can work and walk with people who follow a different drummer, for I too follow a different drummer.  Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God! 

 

Fear Nothing Except

May 20, 2014

May 20, “Fear Nothing Except”,  Jn. 14:27-31 Jane Adams

A friend suggested I use a “botox app”, to remove the lines from my face when I post pictures.  I laughed, but there was a time when I feared aging, wrinkels, and it was a sign of the falseness that our society implants in us–to cover up the reality of life.

Dr. Will Tuttle writes:

“Eating food is a lot like sex in that the inner images and attitudes we have are more important to our enjoyment than the physical or objective reality of which or of whom we partake. Our taste is determined, ultimately, by our mind.”

He writes of food in particular but we can move this into all of life. For example our media/poilticians offers us promise of wealth, youth, the good life–and San Francisco is the new “gold rush”–and in that offer we have the destruction of the lives of people for our own benefit, 

Jesus offers us “a peace” that holds in the face of death, pain, suffering, and brings wholeness to all if we follow him into a life of loving each other equally, providing for our neighbor–housing, health care,and  food. We need not fear loos or pain or even death. We need fear nothing–except for settling for less than God’s promise. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Moving into the Neighborhood

May 19, 2014

May 19, St. Celestine V, “Moving Into the Neighborhood”, Jn. 14: 23-24: “Because a loveless world, is a sightless world. If anyone loves me, he will carefully keep my word and the Father will ove him–we will move right into the neighborhood.”

Dr. Will Tuttle wrote:

“Our lives flow from our beliefs, and our beliefs are conditioned by our daily actions. As we act, so we build our character and so we become. By consciously making our meals celebrations of peace, compassion, and freedom, we can sow seeds in the most powerful way possible to contribute to the healing of our world.”

He writes in particular of the way we eat, but I believe it is the way we should live all of our lives. Yesterday I was in the Haight, kids were drunk, high, pushy, and frankly plain nasty, and I moved through them feeding them, talking,, and change took place, there was a calmness, and there were  actions of love.  When we move into the neighborhood in all of its nastiness love changes things–it is not pretty, it is not easy, it is painful–but love will change the worst into the best. . Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

 

Absence or Presence

May 18, 2014

May 18, 2014, Presence and Absence John 14:1-2

The one constance in my life has been Jesus.  Like most of my friends he is absence it seems much of the time, But again, is he?  Last night I interfered with a policeman who was removing a woman from between two cars on Clay, in front of the multi million dollars appartments, for trying to go to the bathroom. I took her to a rest room; He was present then, for even when we feel his absence he comes to us in those moments we least expect it, and for me he was present in the woman, dirty, and broken. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

VegInspiration
Billions are spent searching for drugs and other material means to cure what is actually an ethical and spiritual disease. Sowing disease and death in animals at our mercy, we reap the same in ourselves.

Much of medical research today is actually an apparently desperate quest to find ways to continue eating animal foods and to escape the consequences of our cruel and unnatural practices. Do we really want to be successful in this? Dr. Will Tuttle

The Way

May 16, 2014

May 16, “The Way” Jn. 14:1-6 Ruth and Naomi

Early Christianity was called “The Way”, long before it was called ‘Christian’, because the early disciples followed Jesus as the person. The “Way” is found upon a deep, trusting relationship  with Jesus who knows all of our troubles and fears.

I watched a documentary about Troy Perry last night, and I cried all the way through it–for his story is my story, and Jesus, the Way walked with him. As I look back, I look back beyond these 20 years in  San Franicisco, to being tormented by my sexuality, years of professional counseling in how to “be straight”, and finally in complete rejection–and it was Jesus who walked with me.

He walked with me  in the years of prostitution, the years of not knowing where I was going, who my friends were,  and in coming to San Francisco, and in all of my mistakes here, and he has sustained me in the midst of doubt, pain, fear, and danger. 

That is why I do not apologize for naming him as my friend, that is why in  every public event I conduct  I have  a Christian worship service, that is why I always wear a cross or a collar-=-for Jesus walks with me now, and I will follow him into Galilee.  I never apologize about nameing Jesus as my friend, and as my Lord. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

VegInspiration
Animal-based meals are the source of the complacency and sense of disempowerment that permit the environmental and social holocaust that our media prevents us from seeing and comprehending.

Eating animal foods diminishes our sensitivity, paralyzing us by reducing our ability to respond—our response-ability. Eating the violence on our plates requires an evasion of responsibility so that we come to believe our actions don’t make much difference. This erroneous belief is actually rooted in our semi-conscious understanding that with every meal we cause exactly the kind of suffering and pollution that we would naturally want to prevent. Dr. Will Tuttle

 

Slip shiding Grace

May 10, 2014

May 10, “Slip Sliding Grace”  Walker Percy”  Acts 9:31-42, John 6:60-69

Walker Percy wrote that “The worst of all despairs is to imagine one is at home when one is really homeless,” and that is a tempatation by which all of us  who are followers of Jesus are tempted with. 

For we are homeless, like Jesus, until we walk into Galilee with him. Following him means to put everything aside, to leave everything, security, prestige, benefits, and give one’s life to follow the Way.  Other wise the grace we receive would be slip sliding.

Last night I was out until 2 a.m. giving out pizza, and there were people in the park, in the doorways, in the alley–all homeless, and yet they are more at home than many of us because they see their lives as a reality of having no where to belong.  Only as I keep that in mind do I truely have meaning,  for in  following Jesus we are headed home. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

The song of the new mythos that yearns to be born through us requires our spirits to be loving and alive enough to hear and recognize the pain we are causing through our obsolete food orientation. We are called to allow our innate mercy and kindness to shine forth and to confront the indoctrinated assumptions that promote cruelty.

While we are granted varying degrees of privilege depending on our species, race, class, and gender, we are all harmed when any is harmed; suffering is ultimately completely interconnected because we are all interconnected, and socially-constructed privilege only serves to disconnect us from this truth of our interdependence. Will Tuttle

 

May 9, 2014

REFLECTIONS OF TWENTY YEARS—May 9, 2014

Twenty years ago in October I moved into my place at Sacramento and Polk, worked as a counselor in Marin, and began handing out pizza after work. My intention was to do pastoral ministry in the Catholic Worker tradition-I had no plan– just handing out pizza and being a pastor. And we continue today with out any plan—just the moment—feeding people and being their pastor. Temenos was formed out of the Catholic Worker tradition because of the teachings of Dorothy Day, living simply, voluntary poverty, personalism, non-violence and practicing the works of mercy. The non-profit is a 501 c3, designated as a church. She was formed to be a church of the streets, not a non-profit, not an agency, not a service provider, but the body of Christ on the streets.

Two principles which have shaped my life and this ministry through these years, one by a former pastor of mine as a youth, Bill Shamburger:
.”
“There is no valor in compromise”

And as many of you know I do not compromise. And I do not compromise on what I believe is important—I call it as I see it, and I have been told I make people uncomfortable.

And another by Oscar Wilde:

“To regret one’s own experiences is to arrest one’s own development. To deny one’s own experiences is to put a lie into the lips of one’s own life. It is no less than a denial of the soul.”

And I have never denied my past, I joke about my four career changes, from pastor to sex worker, to counselor to priest all in a matter of four years, but in that joking is the truth of me being honest about who I am.

If you asked me about my regrets I have none, I would do this over seventy times seven. For in the pain there always comes joy. Pierre De Clardin said: “In the shadow of darkness may we not look back to the past, but to seek in the utter darkness the dawn of God.” There is always the dawn of God.

The philosophy in these quotes have served me well-for they have taught me that what we do is not about us. It is about Jesus, and serving him in the faces that are on our table. They have taught me that to serve one must become like the Velveteen Rabbit—worn out with patches, covering our wounds, and when we wear out we become real.

This ministry came out of my own journey of finding my way to be a priest and pastor in a time when being gay basically eliminated that possibility, the stole I will wear to night was given to me by a closeted bishop at my ordination as a priest—with pink triangles, made from the quilts of individuals who died of AIDS, as a symbol of my openness. and you at these tables have journeyed with me, empowering me on this journey. When I was ordained over thirty years ago I was commissioned to “preach the Word, and administer the Sacraments,’ and that is what we have and continue to do.

To night I would like for you to look at the pictures on your place settings and on the wall. Reflect, mediate upon each face. Each is a face that you have touched through your gifts, your prayers, and your time. These are not pictures of success stories but pictures of walking with people on their life’s journey’s –holding their hands in pain, dancing with them in their joy, mourning with them in sorrow. Some have died, most are still on the streets, a few, a very few live the lives of housed people, but they are the children of the Crucified One—so mediate on each face, and let Christ speak to you through that face.

That is what tonight is about—when asked what my legacy will be—I look at their faces—they are the legacy, they are my legacy, they are your legacy.

For now though in the words a man from China, Onago, “I am still a vaga bond for Christ, I will go like the wind,” please continue to journey with me. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

 

 

May 8, 2014

At our  ordination the Bishop said we were ordained to “wait upon tables,” We were ordained to provide the nourishment of the preached Word, the administered Sacraments, the listening ear, the conversation, the food we serve each day. Last night I listened to a gentleman outside of St. Luke’s surrounded by two shopping carts and his belongings, he was wearing shorts, and I waited upon tables for an hour.  A great way to spend a life–waiting upon tables!  Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

The calling we hear today is the persistent call to evolve. It is part of a larger song to which we all contribute and that lives in our cells and in the essential nature of the universe that gives rise to our being.

It is a song, ultimately, of healing, joy, and celebration because all of us, humans and non-humans alike, are expressions of a beautiful and benevolent universe.

It is also a song of darkest pain and violation, due to our accepted practices of dominating, commodifying, and killing animals and people. Dr. Will Tuttle