The Pursuit of Happiness

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



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