Living on the Edge

Living on the Edge

This after noon I saw my surgeon–and he looked me in the eye and said: “Father, the tear is worst than we expected and there is damage done to one of the bones, and it is going to be a very difficult process.” In other words there may be permanent damage. He then said, “I talked to your primary physician about where to go, and she called you a “street fighter”, that you would fight with everything you have, in every possible way to the death” so I should   give u a chance of a recovery through the most painful regimen of exercise and physical therapy,” and I will have to get down to 155 pounds. So that is the road over the next 12 months we are taking. And I will recover fully, and that you can bet on.

I felt alone, terrified,and was in tears,and called a friend, and I could not get a word in edge wide, but basically she told me, I would be alright,and she  had to go. Basically she reminded me that my “kid friends” were just that, “kids” as well and she would be their for me, such comfort. I am absolutely furious. Had no time to listen, to let me cry.

And I thought those “kid” friends have been with me these past months, and where were you. I became so tired that I got to my bed and fell asleep. I had shut my phone off so I did not have to talk to any of my “kid” friends, because I did not know what to say.

And as I went in and out of sleep I heard a comment my friend, my “kid” friend, the one I trust more than any one else in the world, said to me at 3 last night outside his house,”You are one of the boys, River”, and I looked into his eyes, and he said, “I mean it!” which meant I am simply their friend pure and simple. And this friend, and my other “kid” friend who happens to be my health care power of attorney, have put up with me, I have pushed them a way so much in the last couple of months, and they pull me back in-=so I do not tolerate criticism of either one of them.
They are the best friends I have ever had, like brothers.

I think back to the final evaluation before my ordination and being licensed as a therapist and my supervisor a kind woman, looked me directly in my eyes and said: “You have a gift, one in which you open your heart in such a way that adolescents can  enter in, and you are friends, and in that friendship, you are able to help them change their lives by simply walking with them, but this gift will cause you much pain, and one day you will be faced with a choice–to enter into their world almost completely  and in so doing you will do your best work, but also have much pain and rejection.”

One of the best friends I have ever had walked away from me because she saw me in their world, and I would not share anything about her grandson, I was simply a “kid”s, and immature–that is her opinion.

A couple of days ago I received a call from a mom whose son had broken his arm skate boarding who was in the hospital getting it treated, and she asked me to come and take him home and said. that “two of his and your friends are waiting to see you as well.” At the hospital there were two sixteen year old’s in their school uniforms and my seventeen year old friend in jeans and having his armed worked on. I commented, “you were stupid enough to try to skate down California” and he said, “Don’t give me that sh…t, you would have been  there with me accept for that shoulder, ” and we laughed. The other two were joking around and one handed me a Christmas card, with  a plane ticket to ski with them in Utah over the break, and one said,”Now you two can chase the girls while we are skiing” and laughed. I asked one of them if he would like to stay with me the night after the surgery since I was suppose to have someone there. He goes and comes back and said,”Well I need a 150 hours of community service, so I am going to come the night before, we will party, and than I will uber you to the hospital and stay with you, and come home and stay as long as you need, and we will party, or my mom says  you can come to my house, and I will have my hours,” and he laughed. You see I see them as only my friends, pure and simple.

This is what ministry is–simply walking, hanging out, loving, and in that walk show love, care, and acceptance. Ministry is about opening your heart to others, and taking a chance on being hurt. And ministry is being hurt. It is not easy, but the fulfillment, is hellar cool.

This is a time of pain and fear, accidents happen, sh..t happens, but what matters is friend ship and loyalty. I laugh at my accident even now where I tripped and fell flat on my face, but what I remember most of all are my friends who walk with me. Long after the pain is gone, the faces of my two friends, will stay with me.

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min, D.S.T.


Temenos Catholic Worker


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