Choose Life

Choose Life!

“See I have set before you today life, prosperity, death and adversity.  If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing the commandments and decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live, and become numerous. .I call heaven and earth against you today, that I have set before you blessings and curses. Choose life!”

Several nights ago sixteen year old Shane came to my door. I have spent two weeks feeling guilty because he had put upon snap chat a picture of his cut wrists and disappeared. For two weeks I feared he was dead.  He said, “You pissed at me?” and I looked into the those eyes and said, “No, we are both fuck ups!” I put him on my top bunk, and that night my fever raged, and I woke up with him holding my hand and putting a wet cloth on my head, and saying, “Go back to sleep you are not alone.”

Last night there was a mix up in communication between me and two friends, and I was drinking, and I acted out towards them both displacing my anger.  I was hurt, angry, over a recent rejection, and I lashed out.  I lashed out because I felt safe.One of my friends kept telling me “Stop acting like a fag” and when I would try to leave pushed me down over and over.” At the end of the time he emailed me what a wonderful time that we have had. And during the movie my fever came up, and after the movie, he asked me, “Is your fever down?” And I realized there was very little I could keep from him. Last Christmas he and a friend came by, and another friend stopped by and later commented, “I have never seen you so happy and free.” And I realized I was, because my friend has never judged me, but taken me as I am. He will list for me jokingly things that I have done since I have known him through the years, and I realized he has always seen me for me.

In the last year things have changed, I have made some decisions that have pushed me farther out on the edge, further “outside the gates. And they are decisions I would make again with no regrets.  But with illness and rejection there has come pain that I could never have imagined, and words and Scripture do nothing.

My former teacher Walk Brueggemann writes:

“As long as we try to talk in terms of labels or creeds or mantras, we will never get on the same page. But if we talk about human possibility and human hurt and human suffering, then it doesn’t matter whether we are talking with Muslims or Christians or liberals or conservatives; the irreducible reality of human hurt is undeniable.”

I am a priest because I believe the Church holds the message of hope–but only when it sees hurt as undeniable and outside of creeds and mantras, that constrain and protect us from entering into the suffering of others.

One sixteen year old and two eighteen year old’s have pushed me into choosing life, to grieve, and to move on into what ever God holds for me to do. They have loved me for me, they have allowed me to be me, and that is what I try with all my heart to do–to allow the kids I work with to be themselves. It is painful, scary, but as someone once told me I chose the road less traveled, or shall we say it was offered to me and I chose it willingly and so again I choose it. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



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