In Memory of Rio

In Memory of Rio

The ghosts, and all sorts of creatures are roaming tonight. Our right wing friends want to cut off their believers from participating because of the presence of “evil”, well my friends evil is present, it looks you in the face, and Halloween allows us to express our fears around evil and death. For in our hiding–we separate ourselves from our humanity, and become a ghost. We can not hide.

 Last night a few years ago my friend Rio accidentally over dosed on heroin at the Viper Room in L.A., or was it just one tormented journey to that end.  He was an actor, a hell of a fun kid, an excellent friend, and a kid who was tormented by sexual abuse as a prepubescent kid. Abuse  done in the name of God.  He could never come to terms with the Divine, always a question, always being sought after, and yet so much pain because of those early memories.

I remember the night we sat in IHOP in Hollywood, after 3 a.m., me I had finished a night of whoring, him, partying and drinking.  His mood turned dark suddenly, and he challenged me to go back to ministry. Rio left, I never saw him again because he was dead soon. But those eyes, their darkness, pierced my very being, and in the next few days I wrote this piece that has been my Affirmation of Faith:

“The best summary for my mission in life can be found in the statement that “Obedience to Christ does not consist in engaging in propaganda, nor even in stirring people up, but in being a living mystery.  It means to live in such a way that one’s life would not make sense if God did not exist. To be a living mystery means to practice the works of mercy or in the words of Dorothy Day, “To love to the point of folly.”

This has never changed as I fought, and clawed my way out of prostitution, and into ministry.  People say I make it seem easy to do ministry and raise money–never, never! 

This is still the statement I live by:

The reason I loved Rio was because he did not see me as a whore, simply as his friend, and I saw him only as my friend.  There was never any judgment. I can put on quite a show, but when you get down to it I am a fuck up, I own that, more and more, I can not hide that.

As I put this on Facebook I really hate it, because I will get responses of sympathy etc, and the truth is “no thank you.”Don’t dishonor Rio, and do not make me feel like I need to coddled, by a computer message, that is cold, and painful.  I want a response action. I would like to see some given to people outside our doors–not words.

The only response I want  is for people to love each other without the boundaries of fear they put around themselves. I often joke that I moved from being a whore to a priest–and priest’s have worse reputation than whores, these days, so I did not improve my reputation very much. Titles, all ultimately hide who we are, they separate us from people.  So fuck the titles!

The only response I want is for people to stop judging, and  start caring for people who are on the street. There are so many reasons they are homeless–family, psychological issues, and than all they have left is PTSD and drugs; lazy– most of my kids want to earn their way, but not in the traditional ways. We live in a place where you have to be rich to live here now.  We are nothing  accept how much we have–all vanity of vanities. The Bible tells the stories from the beginning of time of how our desire for material goods without love of humanity destroys us.  We need to see our humanity. We are all different. Sorry we are fucked up humans–every last one of us, some of us can manage a little better than others, but what we can do is love one another, and help each other having their basic needs met.

For me God is that presence that calls us to love each other, to care for each other, without judgment, to lift each other up. I have no idea if there is a life after death–frankly I do not care-this one is bad enough, what I care about is the person in front of me who needs care. 

  The God that destroyed Rio was the one of judgment, the one used by men to meet their most evil desires, this is the God that is always named in so many names in the military might around the world, this is the God our government uses to justify its military aims, this is the God people who  come out on the streets to proclaim–to save their soul–and than they move onto their nice warm homes and nice meals–Oh what a god! This is the idol!

For me if there is a God he can only be found as the

One who  redeems us in all of our fullness and expresses that fullness in the words:  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

I have tried, I have given all that I am and now I call you to try to love your neighbor, to meet those in the tents in our City and across the country, in the Park, in the Alleys, and give them love, give them housing, give them mental health care, give them the food that is needed. Give of your humanity to people.!

My brother and  Rio sent me on this crazy, fucking, wild journey, the two I felt the most accepted and loved by in all the world,  and never  showed me judgment, and so Rio I honor you and thank you.!


River Sims

Temenos Catholic Worker


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