Archive for January, 2020

Small Pebbles

January 31, 2020

Small Pebbles

Mark 4:26-34 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Parable of the Seed Growing

26 And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 27 He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. 28 The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

30 And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? 31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. 34 He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.

    Standing in front of City Hall in San Francisco one is overwhelmed by its size, beauty, and the power it contains. It is from here that  millions are given for homeless and and the disenfranchised. Each year millions are spent, and each year the misery on the streets continues.
    Each spring and throughout the summer there is a spot  in a  County Park in Marinwood we walk to. In a corner between the fence and the path nasturtiums and morning glory vines grow and flourish. Growing up our  grandmother planted both, a domesticated version, and our  memory  returns to  those years, of nurture and love. They are small pebbles reminding us  of love,a love that continues to flow in our veins. Small pebbles like the mustard seed speak to us through the portals of time. They continue to blossom, ever so slowly.
    Recently we received an email from a lady we had encountered late one night on Polk, we simply bought  a meal and spent time chatting with her. That was years ago. We had no memories of that night.  She said: “That one meal saved my life, I found life worth living in those moments with you.” Small pebbles cast like mustard seed.
    There are few opportunities for grand gestures, but we can practice what Dorothy Day called “pebbles” of kindness.
    In the area  around City Hall,  moving  out into the neighborhood we are surrounded by misery–people sleeping on the street, minds blazing on drugs, and drug dealing on our corners.
    Jesus began his journey to Calvary, and invites us to journey with him to Calvary,  adding  our light to the sum of his light and give small “pebbles” of kindness to others. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!
Father River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164
“If you look at the world,
you’ll be distressed.
If you look within,
you’ll be depressed.
But if you look at Christ.
you’ll be at rest.” Corrie ten Boom

Embracing the Wild Goose!

January 30, 2020

Embracing the Wild Goose!

2 Kings 5:11-13

But Naaman was angry and went a way saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean? So he turned and went a way in a rage. But his servants came near and said to him, “My father it is a great word that the prophet has spoken to you, “Wash and be clean.”

    We want to be special. We want people to pay attention to us, to listen, and to recognize us for our uniqueness. So we brag about our exploits, all the good, special, and noticeable things that we do. Like Naaman we want to be THE SPECIAL ONE. And ultimately we realize we are simply human beings no better nor worse than anyone else, on a road that leads to death, and being forgotten. We fight like hell, but we lose. In the process we hurt each other, we destroy, and cripple  each other, where our calling is to love, and build each other up, to walk together on our journeys.

    The past month has been and still is a   time of deep depression–two deaths, listening  primary to kids who are scared, depressed. I sat with one teen guy  night before last at the hospital who said he wanted to commit suicide, after six hours of waiting and sleeping on my shoulder, his feelings had changed, and the hospital was so busy they would not have gotten to him for another four or five hours, so I  brought him home, put him to bed and fed him the next morning. He left very happy–all he needed was some attention, some love. And it drains me deeply. I can only give so much, and than have to regenerate.

    I have always been at home with adolescents, in them we find  the “Wild God,” the “Wild Goose” with their energy and creativity. But also their deep struggles, depression, anger, their questioning. Each one can hurt, can be painful, sometimes dangerous, but are real. And what I do in hanging, loving, being friends with them is in  my willingness to let them be themselves, to enter into my life in their realness, and that brings pain, rejection, and much pain at times, but also the realness of loving the Wild God, who is like the Wild Goose that flies freely. And my prayer is allowing them to encounter the love of that “Wild God”, the “Wild Goose,” who loves them despite themselves. I am always journeying on the edge. I let my guard down, not as  the “authority” with answers, for I have no answers, but as one on the same journey.

    People frustrate, and sometimes hurt when they ask for numbers, talk about money, and ask about what  “demonstrations” we participate in, the number of people I help get off the street, and how many referrals made. The truth is all of those things are out in the shadows. I follow the “Wild Goose,”, the “Wild God”, who walks with us day by day, and simply says to us, “Wash and be clean,” for as James Koester says:

“God’s gift of love to us in Jesus does not separate us from those who are different. It unites us in one loving embrace. We forget that when we believe we are God’s favorite, to the detriment of all others.” Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


“If you look at the world

you’ll be distressed.

If you look within, you’ll be depressed.

But if you look at Christ, you’ll be at rest.”

Corrie ten Boom

An Offering of Mercy

January 28, 2020

An Offering of Mercy

2 Samuel 6:12-19: “And David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord.”. .John 5:1-18–“And there in Jerusalem by the sheep gate, a pool called Bethesda.”

    Bethesda means “house of mercy.” David offered offerings before the Lord celebrating his victory over Saul; Jesus calls us to make an offering from the heart of mercy, as he made an an offering of his life from the heart of mercy.

    Jesus turns the world upside down placing grace over legalism. Love is the fulfillment of the Law, that love leads Jesus to the cross.

 Henri Nouwen once said: “Jesus’ response to our worry-filled lives is quite different. He asks us to shift the point of gravity, to relocate the center of our attention, to change our priorities. Jesus wants us to move from the “many things” to the “one necessary thing.” It is important for us to realize that Jesus in no way wants us to leave our many-faceted world. Rather, he wants us to live in it, but firmly rooted in the center of all things. Jesus does not speak about a change of activities, a change of contacts, or even a change of pace. He speaks about a change of heart. This change of heart makes everything different, even while everything appears to remain the same. This is the meaning of “Set your hearts on his kingdom first . . . and all these other things will be given you as well.” What counts is where our hearts are. When we worry, we have our hearts in the wrong place. Jesus asks us to move our hearts to the center, where all other things fall into place.”

That center is the offering of our love through the heart of mercy.

    We talk of using “tough” love in the treatment of people on the streets, our “tough love” comes from within ourselves, our need to have results, our fear of failure, but the love that Jesus offers and calls us to offer is that of grace. Letting Jesus enter our hearts, our need for “success” as we define it moves into offering the love through the heart of mercy, meeting people where they are.

     During my struggle with my injured  arm, and the depression resulting from that incident, it was not “tough” love that brought me out of  depression or provided support, it was the love of the heart, the grace, given to me through five adolescent boys and their parents that sustained and nurtured me, “tough” love failed me, it drove me further into the hell of depression. It was the offering of the heart that gave new life.

    Last night we sat with a young woman struggling with a decision of whether or not to have an abortion, we listened, and as she moves in making her  decision reminded her of the love of Jesus regardless of her decision.  We let her come to the reality that Jesus offered her  mercy in whatever choice she would  make, there is no judgment; We talked to a twenty three year old on federal death row last night, and as he moves closer to his time of death, we listened simply listened; six people came to our door for socks and food late last night, again we simply provided what they asked for; Our ministry is that of offering of mercy from the heart.

    We made an application for some socks through a manufacturer, and it asked, “What is your greatest success?”. We answered our greatest success is walking the path with people who suffer and struggle and they with us, providing an offering of the  heart of mercy. St. Augustine once said, “The measure is to love without measure.”
And like the Velveteen Rabbit, our prayer is that one day as we enter into the Great Cloud of Witnesses, we will ask, “Wasn’t I Real before?: asked the little Rabbit. “You were Real to the Boy,” the Fairy said, “because he loved you. Now you shall be Real to everyone.” Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!”


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Live Today–Plan for Tomorrow

January 27, 2020

Live Today–Live for the Future

In Memory of Kolbe Bryant

Mark 3:22-30 English Standard Version (ESV)

Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit

22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” 23 And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.

28 “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” 30 for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.””


    The world is mourning the death of Kobe Bryant. It is not is basketball playing in which I see his greatness, but in  the example he shows us in living out his past into his future. He was had sex with a woman not his wife, who accused him of sexual assault. In the aftermath he admitted his wrong, paid the price, experienced a spiritual crisis and from his experience like Jacob symbolically walked with a limp,  which shined through in the way he lived his life forward. To paraphrase his motto: “Live for Today–Plan for the Future! Redemption comes to us when we ask, and in that redemption we can live for the future.

    In our scripture Jesus is being judged. People can be vicious in their remarks. We tend to act out of our own shadows, and in the process hurt  many. Our criminal justice system is based onfear in much of the way it approaches criminal acts, rather than rehabilitation it brings punishment; our drug laws, the way we treat homeless people, and those who are different from us in looks, age, sexual orientation, religion, culture, race, and economic status.  Through our worrying about ourselves, we live in fear.

    Father Henri Nouwen gives a good description of what plagues our lives:

“Today worrying means to be occupied and preoccupied with many things, while at the same time being bored, resentful, depressed, and very lonely. I am not trying to say that all of us are worried in such an extreme way all the time. Yet there is little doubt in my mind that the experience of being filled yet unfulfilled touches most of us to some degree at some time. In our highly technological and competitive world, it is hard to avoid completely the forces that fill up our inner and outer space and disconnect us from our innermost selves, our fellow human beings, and our God.”

    One of the most notable characteristics of worrying is that it fragments our lives. The many things to do, to think about, to plan for, the many people to remember to visit, or to talk with, the many causes to attack or defend, all these pull us apart and make us lose our center. Worrying causes us to be “all over the place,” but seldom at home. One way to express the spiritual crisis of our time is to say that most of us have an address but cannot be found there.

    Our address is in the loving arms of God, and in those arms, let us remember the words of Meister Eckhart:

“Do not think that saintleness comes from occupation; it depends on what one is. The kind of work we do does not make us holy, but we may make it holy.”

    In his struggles Kobe Bryant made his work holy and reminds us of our own humanity, and of our call to make our work holy. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



Addicted to Jesus

January 26, 2020


“After he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fisher’s of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.”

    Our brains program us to addiction. We all are addicted. Three things I am addicted to are: over eating. Eating is enjoyable, a necessity, but when we over eat, we become over weight, put our health in danger; I struggle with over eating to meet my needs of being fulfilled, loneliness, of fear of not having food, stemming from my years on the street; secondly, we hear a lot about co-dependence, and that is another addiction, my tendency is to please people, to want to be liked.

    Thirdly I am addicted to Jesus.  And this addiction can be both good and bad. When my dependence becomes such that I see him as the “only way”, see myself as having  to take care of people in his name, and having the “moral” answers, than my addiction is unhealthy.

    When relating to Jesus as a person, a living reality, we find ourselves entering into viewing others and our selves with an emphatic ear–no expectations, simply listening and in listening, transformation takes place.

    We are so addicted to our dependence on others–political parties, institutional churches, and other organizations, our ethnic, culture, sexual orientation, economic. age  and religious back grounds that our addictions separate us from God, and our own inner selves.

    The first disciples were addicted to their times, their ambitions, and their fears, but as we see they struggled with their addictions, one hung himself, the others, battled all their lives, but in bringing a balance to their relationship with Jesus, followers of Jesus reached out in love and Christianity swept the world, and continues to struggle with addiction. Always struggling to bring balance.

    A healthy addiction to Jesus is to love our neighbor as ourselves, to see all religions, beliefs, or non-belief systems a part of the rain bow of colors on the human journey, to to relate with empathy with each other. When I have been in the hospital, preparing and recovering from surgery, I am not “Father”, “Dr.” but simply “River”, our titles, our financial status, ultimately mean nothing, simply broken creatures. Empathy is what wins out.

    We are all broken vessels, and we can grow, and change, with an empathic caring of others, for we are in the same boat, and transformation comes from within. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



Peniel–February, 2020

January 25, 2020


February, 2020

“Where Jacob wrestled with God.”

Temenos Catholic Worker

Father River Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Journal of An Alien Street Priest:

    As we prepare to enter Lent we are living in a time of much fear.  Fear draws us to the center we have created, the ego self. Divine Love expands from our real center, our true self.

    The true self is a rainbow of colors and expands so that we can experience our whole being, and allows us to feel the pain of others, so that we can reach  out and help without discrimination due to their pain.

    Meister Eckhart suggests the best means to enter into our true selves, is to Relax into God, “to sink down out of something into nothing.” In “relaxing into God,” we let go of our false concepts of race, creed, color, economic status, and religion, and see people as beloved of God.

    To see people as beloved of God changes our attitude, we move into seeing them simply as human beings on the same journey needing  support as we need support. Peter Maurin, co-founder of the Catholic Worker shared how he would go out on the streets of New York to mingle with the workers and the unemployed, hoping through his  presence to share God’s love with each one by what he called “practicing the art of human contact.”

    During this Lenten time one suggestion is simply to accept yourself just as you are, where you are. Be observant of your feelings of lust, fear, over eating, anger,  being shy and withdrawing from people, notice them, sit with your feelings , and after each observation without emotional reactions, let them go, move to the center of Christ, where divine love is found, give time or money to someone: a homeless person, your child, spouse, or friend, and in that present moment of giving we can find happiness, for we begin to see others as the Christ and in the words of Jean Vanier, “We are not called by God to do extraordinary things, but to do ordinary things with extraordinary love.” Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!



February 26, 2020

    In the last couple of months we have been reminded daily of our mortality. Wild fires in Australia, the military action in Iran, and the deaths of people on the street. Social media brings death home to us each moment of the day. We can become immune to its presence or we can think of our own deaths.

    Life is fragile, it is short. On Ash Wednesday as the ashes are placed on our heads and we hear the words, “Remember O man you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” let us remember our humanity and pray the prayer:

    “God of the desert, as we follow Jesus into the unknown,

may we recognize the tempter when he comes;

let it be your bread we eat,

your world we serve and you alone we worship.”

Join us at 5:30 p.m. in front of “Bob’s Donuts as we walk and talk to people in our door ways, on the street, and the alleys, and impose the ashes at their request. Come join us and see our mortality in a more graphic light, and in doing so “Remember O man, you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”



    Recently fundraiser evaluated our ministry, and scratched her head–she said, very politely, “Frankly I do not know how you raise money, you do not show results.”

    Our ministry is to “Preach the Word, using as few as words as possible,” and administer the Sacraments! We provide food, socks, and a sacramental presence to street youth, and any one with whom we come into contact with.

    So with that in mind, we invite you to share of your financial resources with Temenos Catholic Worker. We are a 501 c 3 religious non-profit.!

     You may give through snail mail or through pay pal found on


Volunteer Needed to Print and Mail our Newsletter
Every two Months!

Temenos Symbol

Storm Tossed Existence

January 21, 2020


“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

    Several years ago my friend Matthew and I were in Puerto Valera, Mexico. We were coming home, but because of a mix up had to book him on an earlier flight. We had had a brutal fight the night before, and was glad to be separated. I dropped him off, but became afraid as I found I did not know where the car was to go, could not read the signs. Matthew sensed my fear, and walked off his plane and called, , “We may fight and hate each other sometimes, but when we know the other is in trouble we stay.” He stayed. That is what real friends do, in season, and out of season, they stay.

    E. K. Chesterton wrote: “We are all in the same boat in a stormy sea and we owe each other a terrible loyalty.”  Matthew demonstrated his “terrible loyalty” to me on that “storm tossed sea” of fear, and uncertainty.

    Through the years depression and I have become good friends, in fact we are bosom buddies, and from walking with her have learned two things:

    Number One is to approach “throne of grace with mercy so that we may receive grace and secondly in this world we all live on a “storm tossed sea,” and we need to give each other a “terrible loyalty.”

    Depression is on the rise, and stems from loneliness, and fear of being abandoned to die, and to suffer alone. Walk with me on the streets, and we encounter depression covered by illegal drugs, see the faces of people sleeping in the  nooks and corners, begging for food; walk with me in hanging out with teens and feel their loneliness from lack of being talked to, lack of love, and push for material success; come with me into our senior citizen centers and we find people pushed a side and ignored.

    Brother James Koester  speaks of the false values of our culture, and calls each one of us “to a terrible loyalty”:

“The values of the world are killing us. They are poisoning the creation around us. Maybe it’s time to take seriously the invitation of the gospel, and discover the fruitfulness of humility, service, and sacrificial love. Because in Jesus we see that it is those things, not power, strength, and riches, that lead ultimately to life and to life eternal.”


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



Looking for a volunteer to prepare our written newsletter every two months.

The Living Saga

January 19, 2020

The Living Saga

I Corinthians 1:8-9

    The past two weeks we have been off all social media, our primary phone has been turned off. We needed a break, absolutely worn out. Two memorial services, and the stress of Christmas has been exhausting. Simply watching T.V. and eating good meals, and being alone has been glorious. No demands, no requests, oh how glorious! People in their infinite words of wisdom often point out their view of us   “burning out”, etc, and the reality is we get tired, from giving of myself all the time, and so I take time to myself. Couch psychologists are ignored. Ministry is what empowers our life.

    The truth is I love ministry. The Reverend Jeff Daniels, the Civil Rights Martyr once described his experience on the front lines:

“The whole saga of God’s love affair with us,” he said, “which had been an interesting story to me before, came alive one night in Selma when I was tutoring a little girl in reading. Suddenly she put two syllables together and read a word out loud. She jumped up and ran to her father who was in the next room.
‘Daddy,’ she shouted, ‘listen to me; I can read!’
“Her father listened, praised her, then came into the room where I was. He was crying.
‘Jon,’ he said, ‘I couldn’t much see the point of what you’re doing down here until just now. But I’m going with you to the Court House tomorrow to register to vote.'”

The saga of God’s love comes alive in each person time is spent with– in the cold of the night, at the mall, their home; it comes alive in each pair of socks and portion of food given.

    We live in a broken world,  each person who is hurt, feels alone, separated from family, hungry, homeless, cast aside, is the face of the Christ. And when we bring a smile, give a moment of comfort, and bring hope, one sees the face of God. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

A River Runs Through It!

January 19, 2020

A River Runs Through It!

Genesis 32:22-32

“Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him.”


    Recently a friend asked, “What does the phrase “A river runs through it” mean? The river is symbolic of our lives, running through nooks and crannies, shallow and deep places, ultimately flowing into the Ocean of God.  It is never straight, never pure, and always wrestling with the forces of nature and man to get through.

    Malcolm X once said of life,

“People are always speculating what I am as I am? To understand. .any person, his whole life, from birth must be reviewed.  All our experiences fuse into our personalities. Everything that ever happened to us is an ingredient”. .”

    Father Henri Nouwen expands this thought:

“It is very difficult for each of us to believe in Christ’s words, “I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners. . . .” Perhaps no psychologist has stressed the need of self-acceptance as the way to self-realization so much as Carl Jung. For Jung, self-realization meant the integration of the shadow. It is the growing ability to allow the dark side of our personality to enter into our awareness and thus prevent a one-sided life in which only that which is presentable to the outside world is considered as a real part of ourselves. To come to an inner unity, totality and wholeness, every part of our self should be accepted and integrated. Christ represents the light in us. But Christ was crucified between two murderers and we cannot deny them, and certainly not the murderers who live in us.”

    We can not hide our different faces, none of us are perfect. My own life has wandered through so many dark places, as well as places of light; It is lived in so many gray areas; people operating out of their own journey try to shame, without listening or understanding, and there has been times shame has been felt.

    Jacob walked with a limp, he wrestled with God, and the limp is a reminder that God is well aware of our  sins, but gives us  a new chance.

    Two things have been learned:

    First we can easily do violence to ourselves and other people when we’re so concerned about not feeling shame. Shame is being sorry for your wrongs, it allows us to look at them, and  in Christ we move beyond shame, we walk with a limp, but we walk in the knowledge that we are trying.

    Second it is okay to make mistakes and learn from them. Our mistakes do damage to our lives and the lives of others, but the cross of Christ reminds us that on this journey of life that is part and partial of the journey. None of us flow into the ocean not bruised, pure, and whole, but with scars and wounds. The one thing I have learned to say to people as we flow together on the river of life is “We are in this together, I want judge you, but will give you love, and companionship on the journey.”

    On this journey the Psalmist reminds us:

“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;

you hold my lot.

The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;

indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” Psalm 16:5-6


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

The Road Less Travled

January 16, 2020

The Road Less Traveled!

    Last Wednesday when I left a friend’s house I realized how exhausted and tired I had become. My bro had become  angry when he heard me talking to his dad, and said, “you are talking shit,” and I realized I had no idea of what I said, I was simply talking, and I could not believe  anything  negative was said. In fact he is the last person I would want to hurt. The exhaustion hit  in those moments.     Suddenly I saw the two memorial services ahead of me, and the draining of physical and psychological energy being experienced.  Friends of the two who died had been calling, texting, and grieving for over a week.  I listened, and comforted.  It drained me simply giving, and giving.        Monday afternoon after two days of services, I turned my main phone off, and simply fell into bed. The unfairness of life, the lack of care among people made me simply want to hide, and say to hell with everything.

    But the past few days a still small voice could be heard reminding me  of the call to which was given to me in the words of Robert Frost:

” I will be telling this with as sigh

Some where ages and ages hence

Two roads diverged in a wood and I —

I took the one less traveled by

and that has made all the difference.”

    I still have a few miles to go, and the words from Deuteronomy 20:4 speak: “For the Lord your God is going with you to fight for you..”  so whenever the end comes, I know I am never alone.  and the road “less traveled has made all the difference.  Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164