Archive for November, 2016

Onward Christian Soldiers

November 26, 2016

Rainbow Cross


A supporter of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton reacts to the news that Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump won the election in the early morning hours of Nov. 9. (CNS photo/Adrees Latif, Reuters)

Onward righteous Christian soldiers. Onward with the blame. We will blame uneducated white men and women. We will blame southerners and hill people. We will blame black folks for not getting out to the polls. We will blame Hillary’s emails and the people who investigated her emails. We will blame her Iraq war vote. Her endless “scandals.” The speeches at Goldman Sachs, the attacks against her husband’s accusers, the unlovely tenor of her voice. We will cast aspersions against the racists, the haters, the xenophobes. We will loose our fury at unwashed Midwestern counties.

We will blame Omaha where I was born and Oklahoma where my dad is from and Indiana where my mom was born. We will blame my cousins and neighbors and high school classmates: the farmers I went to church with, the Young Republicans I played soccer with, the burly caretaker of the Jesuit villa on the Chain-o-Lakes in northern Wisconsin, with all the souped-up hot rods on the front lawn.

RELATED: Catholic Reactions to the 2016 Election

We will blame the wealthy, the privileged, the out of touch, the ones who would like to goddamit once and for all just run this country like a business and clean up all this mess. We will blame the ones who felt like they had nothing to lose so why not throw the dice and see what happens?

As usual, we will look at everyone but ourselves.

Outright racism and xenophobia and sexual harassment is clear, visible and wrong. We all know it. The campaign of Donald Trump has been horrific, some of his political positions unthinkable and his sheer behavior despicable.

Donald Trump ridiculed a female journalist about menstrual blood rising up to her eyes. Donald Trump made fun of a P.O.W. because he got captured. Donald Trump called Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers. Donald Trump said he will deport 11 million immigrants. Donald Trump bragged about grabbing women by their vaginas. Donald Trump said he would “torture so hard” other human beings. Like a third world dictator Donald Trump promised to jail his political opponent once he got into power. Donald Trump is a millionaire but for years paid almost no taxes. Donald Trump was endorsed by K.K.K. leaders. Donald Trump attacked the Muslim parents of a son who died in combat.

I could go on. Much of what Donald Trump stands for—let alone the content of his character—is the cold face of evil. Evil that has found a formless void of unbridled and sociopathic ego.

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And yet (and yet!) in the sense that we Christians are many parts of the one body of Christ, we have done all these things, too. For Christians, it’s a true thing.

Probably few things you or I have done matches up to what he has done. In no way can we say the wrongs we inflict carry the monumental, world-shaking effect that his do. But when one member of the body of Christ sins we have all sinned. If my arm sins against me shall I cut it off? Shall I say that is not my arm?

Shall I say that this is not my vote? It was only the Romans and the leaders of the Jewish people who put Christ on that cross? Really? It wasn’t—as the church has always taught—ourselves as well? Christ has been on the cross around here for a long time, and it is now stunningly visible, and we have done our part.

We haven’t cared for one another. Personally and politically. “The government,” at its best, is just “us.” It’s us acting together. Blaming “the government” is blaming us. Blaming the Trump voters, too is blaming us.

We have stopped listening to the other, walking with them, stopping for a second and considering how someone else lives and what we can do about it. (Maybe we never really did.)

We have stopped (or never began) actually believing in and acting out what Christians believe: that the poor are our brothers and sisters, and the rich, and the barbarians next door. That my actual brother and sister is my brother and sister. Though not as dramatic as Trump’s words and deeds, there are real and monumental consequences to what we do, and fail to do.

I have taken too little care, said King Lear. We have taken too little care. It shows.


The great flaw of nearly all social justice movements is they fail to critique themselves. They are never self-reflective enough to say where did we go wrong, how are we complicit in social sin, where have we not taken care of each other? They are not humble.

We believe our cause is so right, our powerlessness and poverty so complete, the injustice so vast, the need so urgent, that it is defeatist and a waste of precious time to engage in self-reflection; to even think of examining with cold clarity the hurts we have inflicted on others and ourselves.

We who “combat injustice!” rarely sift through our own stances and actions and ask where have we failed. Where we have failed not just those outside the movement but within as well: Our anger at injustice turning into cynicism, transubstantiated into a bitter poison that spills over into everything we say and do. Such as denying, for instance, that any Trump voter has even the least shred of empathy, humanity or basic common sense.

But, really and truthfully, you might say, I am not complicit. I’m not racist. I’m not sexist. I believe in welcoming immigrants. Spring break junior year I dug latrines in Honduras. I watch documentaries about black incarceration. I engage in the difficult yet courageous work of posting anti-Trump videos on Facebook. I was devoted to the anti-establishment charisma of Jon Stewart and with some mourning but a brave front deftly switched my allegiance to Samantha Bee.

I believe in the seamless garment of life. I have attended, or even given talks in church basements and justice conferences about “abortion-economic justice-death penalty-peaceful natural death.” I even campaigned on the ground for progressive candidates. I organized in the streets with the people, con la gente. I went into the homes of the poor, and the churches of the disenfranchised. I have done my part.

It is other people who are short-sighted, ignorant, racist, hating, agrarian, abiding in unreality, latter-day fascists. They don’t realize how good they have it. Try living in a hut in Bangladesh, or the gang-infested streets of El Salvador, the wastelands of Haiti or the living hell of Allepo. You’d find out real quick you have nothing to complain about. Your anger would dissipate, your sense of American entitlement would melt, your voting pen would skip on over to the correct oval, the one I filled.


I wonder. The greatest sinner is the one who thinks he has not sinned. Is not like other men. Whoever thinks he or she has not sinned, for all intents and purposes has dethroned God. And dethroning God, the sin of Pride, it goeth. It goeth before the fall, and hard.


It was a dark night and a bleak next morning. And then grace came. I don’t say that lightly. I rarely say things like that, “grace came,” unless it is forced out on a retreat or in a scented leather journal. But not long after I woke up something became clear to me, and I wrote my anarchist friend Dimitri. I said at least we have clarity now. We know what needs to be done. Saying that out loud, something shifted in me.

Christ flips everything. The dark flips to light, even as soon as it comes, if we let it. I came to believe that today is a beautiful day. I don’t say that to be willfully shocking or abrasive. I actually believe it. It is a great day because we have hit rock bottom. A man with long recovery looks back at the day he hit rock bottom as the day in his life he is most grateful for. Because it was then he knew with blistering truth he had no other choice but to lean on other people. To lean on other people and the God who created him. He got to God in a way nothing else could get him there.

America has become unmanageable. At last we can realize that only a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity. Only when you find out you have cancer, or realize how wretchedly you have failed in treating your cancer, can you defeat it. We know how bad it is now. It has all been exposed and we know what we have to do.

If we believe God is God, there is hope. Faith has to become real. There are no two ways about it.

Is all of this too facile an allegory? Is this “spiritualizing” the election and politics? It is all just a matter of praying harder and sinning less? I don’t think so. Faith becoming real does not save my soul alone. Faith becoming real does not only send us into church for hours of prayerful gratitude before the Blessed Sacrament. It also sends us out into the streets to deal with the blessed sacraments out there. The ones hustling to work, yelling at their kids, pushing their split ends from their face, getting laid off and laying people off, crouched on the sidewalk drinking wine from a paper bag, eating kale in a concrete plaza under a hideous modern statue.


I would be disingenuous if I said I wasn’t still nervous or scared about what might happen. If I said even that I wasn’t in a low-grade mourning.

At the same time, though….

If I told you  it will be O.K., it really will be all right—here, now, U.S. of America, Trump our commander in chief—might you reply that I am being willfully naïve? Would it be “O.K.” if you were an immigrant about to be deported? A woman who has been violently sexually assaulted? In other words, if you were anyone who will continue to suffer in the sickness of American culture that was just solidified that much more last night?

I can’t speak for other people. But it is a natural fact that suffering people are not helpless to claim their power. To say otherwise is to dismiss out of hand their inherent dignity. The most hurting people have the ability to take charge of their lives, no matter what the world has done to them.

Writing this, I am a bit surprised to find the sincere dramatic 23-year-old Dorchester street organizer, flannel around the waist, listening to Pearl Jam’s “Vitalogy,”—I am surprised to find that earnest young guy still quite alive. I wasn’t sure that I still believed in all this stuff.

But I do. It really is on us to build from the ground up the culture we want. No one has true power over us unless we give it to them. Not even a president.

The Pursuit of Happiness

November 26, 2016

The Pursuit of Happiness

Luke 21:34-36

Tonight at 2 a.m. I woke from having a night mare, a horrible, gut wrenching night mare, a sign of my PTSD. Once this  happens I wake up sweating and I can not go back to sleep. In the last couple of weeks I have been asked, “Are you happy?”  And I see in the faces the people who ask their  own struggles with happiness.

Brother David Vryhof wrote:

The desire to acquire money and possessions has become so much of the air we breathe that we’re no longer able to be objective. Of all the followers of God in the way of Jesus, we who enjoy such tremendous wealth and privilege have the most urgent need to ask ourselves, “Is it God that I serve, or is it some object of my own creation that I have come to value even more than God?”

Happiness does not come in material possessions it comes from within.

I am happy. On the wall by my desk I have photos of some of the young men and women I have worked with, each one probably has PTSD from their lives on the street, each one struggles, and in walking with them I find much happiness; but what makes me happy is walking with God in Christ. From that relationship I walk with my  kids, the scarred faces of Christ.

In our Gospel today there is a curious phrase which reads “weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness.” Drink is a narcotic; it does in fact dull the heart and blunt the appetites.  As for dissipation, while it may be sold as fun and providing a laugh, on the morning after, most would agree with the philosopher Frederich Nietzsche that the mother of dissipation is not joy but joylessness. Joy and moderation go hand in hand. When our hearts are happy, our own skins are a good place to be; we do not need to be blown out of our minds by alcohol and other drugs.

My heart is happy, in season, and out of season. Meister Eckhart tells us that the Word of God is spoken continually in our soul. But where are we? He says bluntly: “God is with us in our inmost soul, provided he finds us within  and not gone out of business.” That is where God is for me. The night mares are the Angel of Death coming to visit, and God is there, always there, and even in my worst fears and pain I am happy. Like Sojourner Truth I like to say that when death comes:  “I’m not going to die, honey. I’m going home like a shining star.”

Happiness is found within yourself. It is not what you possess physically, but internally, spiritually.  Late one night a young man screamed at me when I refused to give him money for smack, “You are addicted to Jesus, you m….f,  I have my addiction to,” and I looked him  in the eye and said with some anger: “Well at least I have food to eat and a roof over my head.”  We choose our addictions, we are all addicted to something, and I choose Jesus. The truth is I may not have much materially, but what I have sustains me in season and out of season. 

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



Live Today As If It is Your Last

November 26, 2016

LIVE TO DAY AS It Is Your Last

Isa. 2:1-5, Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:37-44

First Sunday in Advent–and yes I am early

 Twenty three years ago in October I sat with a group  exploring the Catholic Worker way of life, all working full time, and all in their late fifties. Each one was looking forward to retirement and than to becoming Catholic Workers, to work with the poor.  Fr. Frank Cordaro will never know how grateful I was to hear him speak, for that day I decided to “retire”, and in retiring I came to San Francisco.  I have been “retired” ever since, for I live each day as if it is my last, for today is all we have.

Advent is a season of hope. Hope in the promise of  God coming to bring redemption to his people. Today I viewed the movie Billy Lynn’s Long Half-Time Walk, a movie of a young soldier coming to terms with his place in life.  In war he faced reality square in the face, and everything changed.

I am continuing my own “long half time walk.”  On Thanksgiving we served food to the young adults in the Haight, they had so much hope in their voices and their out look.  Hilaire Belloc said: “Kings live in palaces and pigs in sties but youth in expectation. Youth is wise.” They were the supreme example of that quote; that night we served dinner at one of the shelters. All were older men, and they were the complete opposite–they were cast down, no hope, and simply trying to survive day to day. Some of these guys I have walked with since they were young adults.  So where is the hope?

Hope in our government? Hope in God? Where is the hope for both the young, and the older who have been beaten down, and will continue to be knocked down?

Hope for me is born a new in Christ each day. I have given up on the system. The system always fails.  But my hope comes in each person who meets Christ in these men and women, and are touched by their lives. A Physicians Assistant and a Nurse Practitioner hung out with me yesterday, and they touched the lives of those they came in contact with. My hope is in the individuals who walk with these guys as equals, who love them, and in going back to tell others, and bring the human face to homelessness, drug addiction, prostitution, and mental illness and  bringing  home the reality that we all are in the same boat, we are the same, some of us just have not been as lucky. 

I am on that “long half time walk,” and I live in expectation, I refuse to live in the past, but in expectation of the reign of God in our midst.  

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



November 24, 2016



Last night late I came home from the church where I had been preparing Thanksgiving Dinner for 350. I had spent the day mixing dressing, salad, and shepherd’s pie. I smelled like food, I was limping from being on my feet. The phone rang and Hunter needed to talk, and so he comes by. As I closed my eyes I thought of my grandmother, as she prepared her Thanksgiving meal, and looking tired, but had so much joy in her heart, for she was preparing for her family, and she has passed down that legacy to me.

Twenty five years ago I was on the street sin Hollywood, and I felt so alone, suicidal, and there was one young man, a prostitute himself, who said to me, “family are those who stick with you.”  And Christ has stuck with me, ultimately he is our only family, and in him the world becomes our family.

What blood family I have are distant, we never see each other, when we do  they want to talk about a history I have no interest in, with no sense of connection; my family through the years have been Marilyn, my first boss out of prostitution, who still loves me in spite  of myself, Vicki, Kevin, Mary, Keenan, Cindy and Karen who for whatever reason both love and hate me; there is St. Luke’s Episcopal Church who has shown me so much love, and allows me to prepare this meal in their kitchen,  and my family are the people I am serving.  My friends in Albuquerque want me to move to be near them, and say, “There are homeless here,” but the reality is the homeless there are not the homeless here, many I have walked with for over twenty two years, for they are my family. The food we serve today is being served to my family–and they are as much my family as any blood relatives I have ever had. Each year I write a thank you note to all who give money to Temenos, and as you know I am not the best pen man, but each note is written with love because I am writing to family, for each person who gives are a part of my family, you know my warts and yet you give, some for over twenty years.

What I have learned  on this journey is that we are all family, and at the head of the table is our brother Jesus, and our Father. So today I wish each and every one of you a Happy Thanksgiving, and “May the Lord bless you and keep you; May the Lord lift up his face upon you and grant you peace, now and always.”

Fr. River Damien Sims

Temenos Catholic Worker


Royal Forgiveness

November 21, 2016


lUKE 21:1-4

Presentation of Mary

In December of 1997, Las Abejas, a group of 48 Indigenous communities whose name means “the bees” were murdered by paramilitary troops as they were fasting and praying for peace in their rough hewn wooden chapel in the village of Acteal, Mexico. They called themselves “Las Adbejas” because they saw themselves as a community of equal worker bees striving together for peace, all serving the queen bee, which is the reign of God.

Last night as we were serving a meal at a shelter “James” approached me. He is 30, he has an older brother. They come from a home of domestic violence, both abused at home, and both abused by clergy.  Both he and his brother came to San Francisco fifteen years ago together, his brother got his act together–moved to Oregon, great job, great family, James is on the street. He uses drugs. He has never been able to get it together, he has been in and out of treatment.He no longer seeks help in services, sleeps on the streets, and basically survives.

James is no different than any one else–than you nor I–he deserves the same love and care, and that love and care comes in us giving of all we have like the widow. We look to false prophets to fulfill the needs of people, but it is in the communities of “worker bees” where we will meet the needs of everyone. When we remove from our psyche the biases of race, creed, religion, sexual orientation, poltical parties, and see each person as a person in need. 

Followers of Christ the King find themselves challenged to be “worker bees” with the homeless on the street, with people struggling to find jobs, housing, and simply to eat.  There is only one Kingdom, and that is the Kingdom of God, and the power of forgiveness reigns supreme, and it is in the reign of forgiveness that we find wholeness.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims

Cross and Noose

November 20, 2016

Jesus is murdered by the state.  He is betrayed by his own religious leaders in cooperation with the state. His crime? Extending God’s shalom–for the poor and outcast, and judgment on those who put barriers in the way of that shalom. Jesus dared to put the poor, the outcast, the minorities, the outsiders first and those who had money and power second.  He proclaimed that all lives mattered  only when the the lives of the outcast and poor matter.  Jesus proclaimed #BlackLivesMatter. The result? The lynching of God.

The political establishment tells Jesus that his death is his own responsibility. The political establishment tells black, brown, sexual minorities, the poor, the outcast, that they need to pull themselves up by their boot straps, and clean up their own communities. The political establishment and the establishment of money and power never are held accountable.

There were two eighteen year old black men trying to hail a cab in Sacramento.  The cabs kept passing by. I walked up to them and hailed one–it stopped right away–and as they got in, the driver said to them, “I stopped for  the white guy,” and I handed him money and said–“And this knows no colors–take them where they want to go.”  Let’s be honest, racism, bigotry is present in all of society.  We need to look within ourselves and own our part. We need to break out of our shells, our little conclaves we live in.  Recently a person asked me “How can you talk to that woman, she is republican?” I laughed and said, “Well she is my friend”.  Let’s look at ourselves, and see the pain we cause, the division we cause. In the last couple of years I have been face to face with death–and when you are, what matters is love and caring, and acceptance of people. All the boundaries that separate us disappear when you see the Angel of Death hovering around.

James Cone challenges us when he says that “until we can see the cross and the lynching tree together, until we can identify Christ with a “recrucified black body (and I add, queer, brown, immigrant, Muslim) hanging from a lynching tree, there can be no genuine understanding of Christian identity in America, and no deliverance from the brutal legacy of slavery and white supremacy.”

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



The Gift to Be Simple

November 18, 2016


“We cultivate a very small field for Christ but we love it, knowing that God does not require great achievements but a heart that holds back nothing for self.” St. Rose Phillippine Duchesne

“The gift to be simple, the gift to be free, tis the  gift to be simple is the gift to be free, the gift to be simple is the gift to make you what you want to be;” are words of a hymn that ring through my ears each day of my life.  They are words that sum up my theology of life.

During the Thanksgiving, Advent, and the Christmas seasons my thoughts go back to my grand parents and my parents, and the one gift that was given to me, that has shaped my life—to be a gifter, to give gifts to others. It is in gifting  that I have learned that true freedom comes in being free of one’s self.

From the earliest times in my life I remember my mother’s parents and my parents feeding people who came to their door, giving gifts to all of us, and always open to the needs of others.  As a little kid I once asked at a Thanksgiving meal, when my grandmother invited a “homeless” person in for a meal, “Why do you always give?” And she replied, “Because God gave his son for us.”

Those words sum up for me my calling, as I encounter Christ in my life, to be a gifter.  I give out of my thanksgiving to God for giving his Son for my life, for redeeming me.  I am the chief of sinners, I am the fool of fools, I have failed at every job I have ever had, and yet God has loved me so much that he gave his son for my redemption.  Through his redeeming grace God has gives me new chances each day of my life to change, to grow, and is bringing me into his kingdom.

Each person I feed, each pair of socks I give, each moment I give to a person is a thanksgiving for God’s gift of his son.

In the next week as we come to our Thanksgiving tables I invite you to meditate on your gifts, and in so doing to remember those who have no food, no friends on the streets, those who are in nursing homes, and  people who are single, with no where to go. I invite you to leave your table and to spend time with one on the streets, one in a nursing home,  and invite some one who is alone into your home.

St. Rose sums it up: “We cultivate a very small field for Christ but we love it, knowing that God does not require great achievements but a heart that holds back nothing for self.”

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



The Third Way

November 16, 2016

The ancient legend of the Trojan Horse is a story that has a message for us.  It is the message that all when we put our trust in politicians–we will be disappointed.  Our leaders are simply human beings,and like all of us they have their view points, and carry their own baggage.  In the past week we have been left fighting, feeling grief, and fighting over the election. Today I spent time with a Republican who is thrilled at the election, and I spent time with people who are sad, and angry.

The third way is for us to come together and meet each other simply as human beings who are on the journey of life, with our own fears and struggles,and listen to each other, and in so doing come meet each other on the same page. In the 30th chapter of Deuteronomy we are told to “Choose life, or choose death. .”  We have much to fear, we have much to be concerned about, all of us, and it is the meeting of each other that we can find life.

It is in the third way that I am asking you to join with me in writing a letter to the President asking for clemency for Chelsea Manning and life without parole for Dylan Storm Roof.  Mercy for both offers life for alll of us.

November 15, 2016

Dear Mr. President:

As we enter the holiday season we are reminded of the God who comes to us in Jesus of Nazareth, and in him showed us compassion and mercy beyond anything we can imagine. As you prepare to leave office I would like to ask you, in fact implore you, to show mercy in two cases. The incoming administration will have no mercy.

First grant clemency to Chelsea Manning.  She has suffered much during the past six and a half years. Recently she attempted suicide, and under military law was punished severely. Chelsea believed in what she did, right or wrong, and she has paid the price.  Give her grace, give her mercy.  For there will be none with the incoming administration.

Secondly, work with the Justice Department in giving Dylan Storm Roof life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Dylan committed a terrible crime beyond words at Emmanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina.  They do not want him to receive the death penalty. There must be justice, but with justice give mercy. He is a lost young man, give him a chance to find himself, to find wholeness in his life, and in so doing to bring wholeness to others.

Mr. President you have demonstrated over and over that you are a man who cares deeply for people, and so in your final acts in office, during this season of the year, please show mercy.

In Jesus, Street Person and Rebel,

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw

Franciscans Against the Death Penalty, P.O. Box 642656, San Francisco, CA 94164

Walking in the Shadowlands

November 12, 2016

In the Shadowland

Late last  night I sat outside  with Joe on the sidewalk as he ate some food I had prepared and as we talked he shared with me the hateful comments he had received all day for being a veteran and homeless. He was in tears, and very sad. He had displayed an American flag in honor of Veterans Day and people cussed him, and spat upon him. As I reflected upon what he was telling me I thought of an Uncle, and a cousin who fought in World War II,  both suffered malaria and PTSD, from the aftermath of the war; I thought of those who fought in all of the wars, and what we have as a result of their sacrifice–our freedom, our right to protest, and the successes  on our journey for equal rights.

As I reflected further I thought of all the veterans, young and old, who are homeless, suffering form PTSD. I am in a group with ten,  never have I heard one regret their service; I thought of my three psychiatrist friends,  one in San Francisco, and two in New Mexico who work in our Veterans Hospitals and of the stories they tell me of devotion and sacrifice; I think of my friend Joe, a Presbyterian minister, who served in the Vietnam War, and I think of a friend of mine in Southeast Mo., whose son fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. They served and suffered because of believing in the best that this country offers. Frankly at one time if I had not been queer  I would have been a Navy chaplain. now because of the struggle of so many, that is possible for other queer young men and women.

      Dorothy Day once said of the Church: “She is both a whore and our holy mother,” and so it is with our country.  So much harm we do, and yet so much good. In the  struggle this flag symbolizes we have seen our country move from a country ruled by men, to one where women, people of color, people of all races and creeds have a part. And yet we still see oppression.  We are always in the  shadow land. It is  in the shadow land  that we struggle and from that struggle comes the best. We lose some, we win some. 

Let us respect that flag as a symbol of the struggle for what we view as best in the world, and in our lives. Let us honor it for the freedom and the justice it has given. To burn it, to tear it  up, to drag it on the street, dishonors the integrity and the sacrifices of the men and women who have served under it. It dishonors our rights that we have to protest and our integrity in our right to protest.  Let us honor the flag as a symbol of the best that we can be. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Giving Each Other Space

November 11, 2016

Giving Each Other Space

2 John 4-9; Luke 17:26-37

Yesterday evening as the sun was setting  and twenty of us set in a circle in Golden Gate Park, celebrating the Eucharist I thought of  how each of us there gave each other space. As I lifted up the bread and wine I thought of how Christ was that space.  Some of us present were not believers, some questioning, and none of us fit into the square mode of believers, but in the bread and wine Christ was present to each one of us.

As we talked one asked me, “How do you jive being with us and being a priest?”  I laughed.  For to them the “church” is where there are signs telling them they can not sleep outside their door; a place where they have to dress up and be clean, and believe a certain way to enter.

For me the church is in their midst–where Christ is present, where we share our pain, our joys, and offer each other love without respect to belief, age, sexual orientation, dress and so on–where are simply broken human beings.

You see I do not feel comfortable in the established church either and in their buildings. I never have,  I grew up in the established church and for fifteen years I served in them–until I was kicked out for being qay.  I still do not feel comfortable because frankly if I express what I really believe, and feel, I am often rejected, because I make people feel uncomfortable–so I walk on nails. I can play the game, but ultimately the game hurts me if I play it too long. The reality is I am a man of the Church, and the Church has shaped and guides my life. I love the Church with my whole being.

And so I looked him in the eye, put my hand on his shoulder, and simply said, “You are the church, you are the body of Christ, and I am in church.”

Worldly activities are not wrong or bad in themselves; we should keep them in perspective–there should be a time when we simply see each other as human beings, with our own struggles, and rather than labeling or judging, help each other; there should be a time for reflection, for silence, for worship, and simply hanging out.

The teaching of Jesus tells us to leave some space in our lives for attention to the end of all of this and to the world to come.  The end, whether of our world or our lives will come in the midst of the ordinary activities of our lives.

In Christ we all fit together, we all have  space, and in that space we belong. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164