Cooking With the Fallen One’s–Cade

Cooking With the Fallen One’s–1

One does not value life until one has nothing. One minute I was the pastor with a nice house, nice car, friends, a career, and in the twinkling of an eye I was an outcast, no career, no place to live, and my good friends turning their backs.  I raised an issue about my sexuality, just questioning, and there was no mercy. I had a lawyer raise questions–and low and behold I could not even get a reference, and as I was reading the paper I found an advertisement for escorts in Hollywood, and so began my long bus ride to Hollywood, and a journey that would lead me into the light of the redeeming power of Christ.

Hollywood, the city of bright lights, tinsel, dancing characters on the side walks, also has a deep and destructive dark side, of drugs, prostitution, child trafficking, and all other sorts of criminal activity, and into that world I walked one dark night.

In those years and the years since I have met many young men and women who have touched and changed my life. They struggle so magnificently just to survive, they suffer so intensely, and without the notice of people–because they are not seen.  As I remember them I think of the words of Henri Nouwen:

“As we grow older we have more and more people to remember, people who have died before us. It is very important to remember those who have loved us and those we have loved. Remembering them means letting their spirits inspire us in our daily lives. They can become part of our spiritual communities and gently help us as we make decisions on our journeys. Parents, spouses, children, and friends can become true spiritual companions after they have died. Sometimes they can become even more intimate to us after death than when they were with us in life.”

I remember as I walked down Hollywood Blvd, that first night, afraid, alone, hearing a voice: “Hey dude,” and it was Cade, 21, dressed in clothes my middle class self had never seen, and that was the beginning of a friendship that would span the next decade and a half. Cade was from Minnesota, he had been told to leave when he came out to his parents at 16 as gay, and so all he had was his body, and he used it well. He was addicted to heron and not knowing it HIV positive. He took me under his wing, and we went to a  Motel 6, where I stayed with him. That Motel 6 is not the same today as it was then, I go there now and am in luxury, compared to the dump it was. Cade taught me the ropes of prostitution, of street life, he took care of me for a time; and then I took care of him. He was in so much pain from the rejection of his family, he hated God, he hated anything from where he came, because of the hatred and rejection placed upon him.  He would shoot him self with drugs into oblivion. What I learned from Cade was that you love people regardless of who they are, or what they have one, and as he always told me to “Fuck the System”.  He suffered so much, he fought so hard. All Cade wanted was to be loved.

Fifteen years ago I received a phone call late one night, and it was a hospice in Minneapolis, Cade was 33, and dying from complications from AIDS. He wanted to see me. As I sat by his bed, we both laughed and cried, and he jokingly called me the “whore priest’ and I gave him the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He died holding my hand, and I had his funeral. No family came, just his few friends.  Cade is one of the saints in that great cloud of witnesses who journeys with me still. Viva!  Cade!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


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