Standing on the Edge of the Canyon

Standing on the Edge of the Canyon

Last night I received  a snap chat from my friend, an 18 year old M who lives in a small town in New Mexico. I have texted and talked to him for three years as he has struggled with his sexuality. The conversation turned into a three hour phone conversation.

M is couch surfing, he has been kicked out of his home because he told his parents he “might” be gay. Sounds so familiar. He feels so isolated, so alone, and talks of jumping off a “canyon” in his area. He said: “You are like God to me, you never judge me,” and he texted me all the cards and letters I have sent through the years. I was overwhelmed, no one has ever kept stuff I have mailed them.

As we talked I told him that I stand on the edge of the canyon all the time. I,too, think of ways of ending my life. I feel like I am a “f. . .ck up”. I live a life in which people put me  on a pedestal and when they see the real me, move away.  That is simply my craziness. The things you have told me you have done, I have done, in fact I have done far worse. We are all simply human beings. But the way I deal with this is to seek die a good death, not one in which I selfishly take my own life. So I told him a story of a friend.

My friend, J is 18. He is one of my two best friends. His picture along with my other friends is on my desk and on one of my phones because I look up to him, and he reminds me of how to live life. I trust him completely, and absolutely, he has seen me at my worst. I have been criticized for making him my health care power of attorney because he is “too young,” and my response is I trust him completely, and that for me is what matters. And a part of that trust comes from seeing how much we are alike in our view on life. He is into martial arts, he has scars all over his arms and his back from his fights. I gave him a nice martial arts sword for his birthday and Christmas. It was more than a gift from me it was symbolic of how he seeks to live his life and how I try to live mine. He talks of fighting as a a way of living  life and how dying with a sword in your hand in a righteous battle brings meaning to life. 

My scars are for the most part internal, and they have been from my own actions, and from the way of life I have chosen. Symbolically I carry a sword too. I want to die fighting, I do not want to die in  bed. I want to die fighting that others might have less pain in their lives. I really do not believe in life after death, so much any more. I see it as a something developed to keep people under control, an “opiate” of the people. I do not believe in the institutional church because it is a tool of the system that is enslaving. If there is life after death I want to be in hell with my friends who smoke, do drugs, have sex, cuss, not singing  psalms and being bored, I want to be where we have fun. People say I take chances and risks, I do, very intentionally. The Angel of Death and I are old friends. For to me to truly live, and to truly die is to die with the sword raised in battle for improving life, and in battle for the Jesus of the Gospels, who did not die for our sins, but for justice for all people. My prayer is that I will die bravely, my head held up, my sword up and hear the words of Jesus, “Well done my good faithful service,” if not than to die knowing I died the good death, without fear, with courage, and with hope that others might have a better life. My friend J reminds me of what it means to live a righteous life.

So let’s both stand on the edge of the canyon together, and let us both choose to die the good death in service to others. Life really sucks, but there is some goodness there. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

Temenos Catholic Worker


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