Hanging Out!

Hanging Out

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than that someone lay down his life for his friends. . .”

I have just purchased a new Bible, and a new translation, The English Standard Version, as I do on every five year anniversary, which I will  use and read during the next five years. I picked this translation because it is the translation that my professors at Knox Seminary use, and I buy in in their honor. I will asked my friends and donors to sign, to commemorate their support.

I have read the Bible since I was twelve years old, and from my freshman year of seminary until present, I read through it every year.  I read it daily, I turn to it, when I am in pain, and in joy, for through it God speaks of love, and compassion and holds the hope. The Bible has sustained me, strengthen me through the  deaths of my parents, and all of my street youth, it has sustained me in the times of being totally rejected and alone, and it has given me strength in times of illness and fear, and the Scriptures give me courage in the face of criticism, opposition , threats of and ultimately my death.

On the eve of my birthday, I see the end far closer than when I started, it is just around the corner, and I asked myself the question: “Have I failed?” And as I hear the voices around me and let them worry me, I laugh, because the answer to that question comes only from me and ultimately from God.

For I do not view ministry as most of the world views ministry, and there are those who have gone before me, and are still doing ministry in similar ways but they can  attest to that same view point.

In my final year of seminary my supervising therapist, Patricia,  who was supervising my counseling and my psychological testing one day gave me the greatest look of compassion, as she told me she was recommending  me for graduation and ordination, and said: “River, you have a special gift, that only a few have in a generation, with youth, especially, and with those who hurt severely, you are able to let them into your heart, and life, let them become your friend, and in that friendship they will find healing.”


Patricia continued,  “Ultimately you will find your self very alone, for there will be things you can not share with anyone”. I have learned the hard way there are things I can not share about my daily life, the things that I see, the words that I hear, because people can not and do not want to hear them. There are now the thousands of secrets, of pain, of violence, of hatred, of deceit, that I can never reveal even on the threat of death.   I feel the pain sometimes in myself. I am not lonely, but am alone.

I feel alone hanging with people with money, education, and who  can not understand the streets. I feel alone when I can not express my political or other opinions, because they will walk away.   I find myself alone when I seek to explain my understanding of the PTSD that I have as simply a part of the journey, and a part that brings much good, even as painful as it is. There are something you can not fix, but they heal as beautiful scars on a piece of broken wood.

She gave me the water color on this blog–“the Counselor”, who is torn a part, like the “The Velveteen Babbitt.” She said, “Welcome to your life! And a it is a life I would not change for anything, for I learn from every failing, mistake, and condemnation and see so clearly that we are to love one another and all of our creation. We are to take risks for one another.

I am often asked, “When do you work?” I hang out, I don’t work. I “chauffeured” one my seventeen year old friend’s and his girlfriend, on their one month anniversary to a movie, Saturday night, I had picked up another seventeen year old in the City and took him home; Another I am tutoring him and simply hanging out; One eighteen year old stayed all night three weeks ago with a high fever and I nursed him, and I caught the fever; tomorrow five of my young friends who are not housed and live in  the Haight are taking me out to lunch, and they are paying, tomorrow night my sixteen-nineteen year old friends in Marin are having a pizza party for me. Is that work? All of life is ministry.  People struggle with the fact that I do not have set vacations, but I take time off alone a lot, nothing set, just when I need to. You see I do not have a job, I simply do not work–I hang out.

This morning my shoulder hurts like hell, my rib from where it was busted last year is in pain, the old stab wound hurts, ,my skate board injuries hurt, but I arise again to   set my sail, looking to the Guiding Star that will lead me home, and hopefully I will hear the words: “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” reminding me that  at least I tried to be a good friend! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God”

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than that someone lay down his life for his friends. . .”

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



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