Cooking With the Fallen One’s–Rio


Today as I cooked the meal, I was laughing to myself, as I thought of some words from Rumi: “There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground,”and for me cooking with the fallen one’s is kissing the ground. As I write these reflections there is much pain, but people have criticized me for not sharing the “stories”, the truth is it is too painful, so in writing I can share and remember.

As I moved out on the street, into the alleys and tents, I observed people using drugs, mental illness, and so much pain, and my reflection went back to my Hollywood days and how I came here.

One night, after 3:00 a.m., I was coming home from a date, and on the corner of Hollywood and Vine was a drunk kid. His name was Rio, and he could barely move. So I took him back to my motel, and simply put him to bed. I knew who he was, he was a well known model.  The next day he woke up and we joked about him coming home with a stranger, and thus a friendship began. He offered money for taking care of him, and I said “no”, as I would throughout our relationship. Rio was born of hippie parents, they were in cult where he participated in sex at an early age; he became a well known model in his teens, and the became wealthy. Rio called me “preach”, rubbing in my past life as a minister, and would tell me, “you were born to preach,”, jokingly but seriously. He struggled with drugs, depression, and PTSD.  After I re-entered the “straight-edge world”, he would come and see me in Minneapolis, and I kept his confidence. I never took money from him, because everyone took from him.  On a night one early fall he died of a drug overdose. Every year on that anniversary I stand outside the bar where he died, and say the Office of the Dead, than I go back to the Motel  6, where I am now called “Father River”, and get drunk, and I never drink, because I had promised him I would get drunk with him one time, and never did. As a final gift  I received a check–given with the request that it be used for ministry, from Rio –he was the one who reminded me of my calling over and over again, even when I vented my anger and hatred toward the church–and the money supported me the first two years as I established Temenos.

Rio was broken in so many ways, a brokenness that would kill him, but in that brokenness there was light as well. “I knee and kiss the ground each day,” being a pastor because of Rio.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 95164




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