A Dimension More Real

A Dimension More Real

St’s Paul and Peter

Matthew 16:13-19

To look on Peter and Paul with some honesty is to tune in to the play of God in human history. Peter was an unlikely prospect for any serious endeavor: charming, generous, enthusiastic, but unsteady, fickle, and cowardly. To him was entrusted the keys. Paul was a proud bigot, homophobic, full of self righteousness, vindictive, and prone to posturing.  Yet he was chosen to be the apostle to the gentiles. They were the very human foundation of the church. And following them were Dorothy Day–unwed mother, had an abortion; Damien of Molokai–rough hewn priest, accused of sleeping around. They tell me I am in good company.

They also teach me how to befriend death.  Henri Nouwen said: “It seems indeed important that we face death before we are in any real danger of dying and reflect on our mortality before all  conscious and unconscious energy is directed to the struggle to survive. It is important to be prepared for death, very important, but if we start thinking about it when we are terminally ill, our reflections will not give us the support we need.”

In San Francisco every time you cross the street you think of death, the drivers seem to not see any one.  That alone helps me to think of death twenty times a day.

This morning my doctor called and asked “how are you doing?”her code checking to see if I had sniffles, for  with the change in weather a simple cold, can  lead to death for with my malaria. I have been shot at, stabbed, beaten, and raped, I see people hurt, and many hang near death daily. Death is at every corner, and I know that I probably will not grow to be very old. The angel of death is always near. I have started seeing a therapist in order to talk about the things I see on the street and death. My housed friends run when I mention anything outside of their well kept world.

Planning my funeral and burial was humorous because it was like pulling teeth to get my friends to work with me–they avoided the subject of death, and I pushed, and pushed. They ran from a simple talking about what  needed to be done. It was really quite humorous, and I loved making it more so by my comments.  The more they ran, the more I became the clown.

People have trouble figuring out my friendship with my kids–not so hard–they talk of life, they talk of death for they see it and live it each day. They are real, they are honest, and see through the foolishness of materialism and wealth.

We need to start talking of death, for when we face death we see life from a different perspective–not about retirement, money, but from how we have lived our lives, how we give to others, how we live daily.  When I realized several years ago that I could die at any time–all fear left me–I go where I have to go, and I do not worry about the future, I embrace the moment. I know longer have five or ten year plans–just the plan of the moment.

Fr.  Pedro Arrupe, superior general of the Jesuits from 1965-1983, composed this prayer after he suffered a debilitating stroke, the effects of which he patiently endured for the final ten years of his life, a prayer which I pray daily:

“More than ever I find myself in the hands of God.

This is what I have wanted all my life from my youth.

But now there is a difference;

the initiative is entirely with God.

It is indeed a profound spiritual experience

to know and feel myself so totally in God’s hands.” Amen.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


+Fr. C. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164






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