Archive for September, 2020

Lost Boys and Girls

September 30, 2020

Lost Boys and Girls!

    There is a photo of five young black men who were murdered, and they are a symbol of all of the lost boys and girls in the world. We are all lost boys and girls, and in the process, we lose others. We lose them to our selfishness, racism, and all divisions. My personal email is “Lost boys” because I know I am a “lost boy.”

    Each of us is “saved by grace,” and it is in that grace that we stand, and are called to look at our actions in relation to all of life.

    The Feast of Christ the King was created by Pope Pius XI in 1925, at a time when political extremism and naturalism were threatening Europe and partisans both left and right were each offering a kind of secular salvation, often salvation from partisans on the other side. Sound familiar? In this context, the Church felt it an opportune time to remind the faithful that no political system, party, or candidate will bring about the Kingdom of God and that believers need to be wary of the totalizing claims of politics.

    It has always been a temptation to seek salvation by political means. In fact, in all of history salvation and religion have seldom been separate. When St. Paul taught the early Christians to say “Christ is Lord,” he was subversively co-opting a maxim common in the Roman Empire at the time, namely, “Caesar Is Lord”. To acknowledge Christ as Lord is to relativize the claims of politics on our lives. God is in charge, and no matter who is elected on November 3, we will celebrate Christ the King on November 22. Christ Kingdom of non-violence and love is above all.

    I have donors and friends of all persuasions, we differ and many disagree, some strongly with the way I do ministry, many through the years have walked a way. I am told “you never listen.” In otherwords I do not agree.
    But those who stay, are like a kaleidoscope, where our differences sparkle and melt together radiating love and respect.

    Jesus is clear in how he sees us deal with each other and life:

“Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you invited me into our home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.”

    And his life demonstrated one of non-violence-in all areas-and was crucified and rose again demonstrating that victory ultimately comes through non-violence.

    Our calling is to mode our lives around the words of Jesus, and live a life of non-violence.

    We all approach our understanding of this ideal from  different perspectives, and so long as we mode our actions in those differences around providing for the “least of these,” as described by Jesus all is well. We are all sinners, imperfect, working for the Kingdom.

    Dorothy Day did not vote because she would not participate in a “dirty rotten system,” and so for those of us who vote, we need to be aware that our system is “dirty and rotten,” and “hold our nose” as we vote–for there is no perfection in our votes.

    And if our candidate or candidates have different views on an issue dear to our hearts, we are called to respect those he supports, and to move out and actively  work for those he does not, and do so in peace. There is no perfection.

    Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “All I want to do is do God’s will”, which was love of his neighbor and he gave his life for that love.

    One of my favorite stories is of Ajuan, who would get up in the morning and fight all day, at time shake hands, and sit down and eat with his enemy. In the days ahead let us do the same.

    Krisna, tells us: “what occupies the mind at the time of death determines the destination of our dyings,” and T.S.Elliot clarifies his statement: “The time of death is at every moment.”

    We die many deaths, moving towards our final death, and in each death what occupies our minds shape who we are, and the lives of those around us.

    And in each moment may we love each other in all of our differences, not judge, love God, and our neighbor as ourself–may we be a part of the great kaliescope of love. We are all “lost boys and girls”, and only in God can we be found.  Let us pray:

“Life passes so swiftly. Events that a few years ago kept me totally preoccupied have now become vague memories; conflicts that a few months ago seemed so crucial in my life now seem futile and hardly worth the energy; inner turmoil that robbed me of my sleep only a few weeks ago has now become a strange emotion of the past; books that filled me with amazement a few days ago now do not seem important; thoughts that kept my mind captive a few hours ago have now lost their power and have been replaced by others. .Why am I continuously trapped in this sense of urgency and emergency? Why do I not see that you are eternal, that your kingdom lasts forever, and that for you a thousand years are like one day? O Lord, let me enter into your presence and there taste eternal, timeless, everlasting love with which you invite me to let go of my time-bound anxieties, fears, preoccupations, and worries. .Lord, teach me your ways and give me courage to follow them. Amen. (Henri Nouwen)


Fr. River Sims, D.Min.

Hard Questions, Harder Answers

September 28, 2020

Hard Questions, Harder Answers

“I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord.”

Last night I pronounced these words as I held the hands of a dying young man at the time of his death:

“There is nothing in death or life,

in the world, as it is or the world as it shall be,

nothing in all creation can separate us from your love.

We commend him  into your loving care.

Enfold him in the arms of your mercy.

Bless him in his dying wish and in his rising again in you.
Bless those whose hearts are filled with sadness,

that they too may know the hope of the resurrection;

for the sake of our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Go forth Sean  on your journey from this world,

in the love of God the Father who created you,

in the mercy of Jesus the Redeemer who suffered for you,

in the power of the Holy Spirit who keeps you in life eternal.

May you dwell this day in peace,

and rest in the presence of God. Amen.

    Todays reading speaks to us in this time of death that surrounds us. We ask or at least I do a lot, “Where is God in all this?”

    There is no simple or easy answer. It is one of the mysteries of the being a human being. Few people were tested as severely as Jesus. Yet we know from the his life that suffering is not the last word.

    Our lectionary reading today Psalm 17:1-7 offers a response beyond our anger, our doubt, our fears: “Though you test my heart, searching it in the night/though you try me with fire/you shall find no malice in me” 

    It is a reminder of words from Marie Howe: “The wounded have to become the healers.”

    When faced with personal difficulties, when caught up in the political fight, when faced with illness and death, how will we choose to respond? With compassion toward ourselves and others? Will we see others as just broken human beings on the journey, and meet them half way? Will we seek the grace to say:”You will find no malice in me?

    And can we read the words of Henri Nouwen and pray:”You will find no malice in me?”:

A Death for Others
The great mystery is that all people who have lived with and in the Spirit of God participate through their deaths in the sending of the Spirit. God’s love continues to be sent to us, and Jesus’ death continues to bear fruit through all whose death is like his death, a death for others.

This is the mystery of Jesus’ death and of the deaths of all who lived in his Spirit. Their lives yield fruit far beyond the limits of their short and often very localized existence.
May the Lord be with you as we remember
“Life is short and we have never to much time for gladdening the heart of those who are traveling the dark journey with us. Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind.” Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!
Father River Damien Sims, D.Min.,D.S.T.

Peniel–October, 26th Anniversary

September 27, 2020

Peniel, “Where Jacob Walked With God!”

Temenos Catholic Worker

Twenty sixth Anniversary Edition

October 1, 2020

Fr. River Sims, sfw, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



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Journal of An Alien Street Priest:

“Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.  For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?’ And I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.” Proverbs 30: 8-9

At the start of the Spiritual Exercises , St. Ignatius Loyola writes:

“Human beings are created to praise, reverence, and serve God. . .We ought not to seek health, rather than sickness, wealth rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor. “…….

Instead our one desire should be for the freedom to choose whatever best allows us to fulfill “the purpose for which we are created.”

            Twenty six years ago on October 1, at the pizza place, down the street, which is still serving, we  bought pizza for several young hustlers, dirty, exhausted, and thus began the journey of fulfilling “the purpose for which we are created.”

            We are in the autumn of our life and ministry now, is beautiful with blazing leaves, and yet  we see the end of a season advancing in the dying leaves on the ground, and the cool weather at night. And so, we tire easily, have pain from a broken collar bone, becoming wrinkled; sagging, and ever so slowly, the leaves are dying.

             As we enjoy the beauty of the leaves we hear the words of Dorothy Day, “The final word is love.” It is an active love, action not words, despite our feelings, encompassing others. It is a love that moves across all boundaries: age, political, race, creed, ethnic background and brings wholeness.

            And that wholeness arrives as we in the words of Henri Nouwen experience our real human grief in “allowing the illusion of immortality to die in us. When those whom we love with an “endless love” die, something also has to die within us. If we do not allow this to happen, we will lose touch with reality, our lives will become increasingly artificial, and we will lose our human capacity for compassion.”

            When we look death in the face, and not use the illusion of immortality to shield us from the suffering around us, our hearts are open to compassion that is an active compassion embracing all.

            Buddha describes our vision of ministry, “When you like a flower you pluck it; when you love a flower you water it daily.”

            And so we  continue to water the flowers, without expecting anything in return, continue in our struggle to let go, and pray that like the Velveteen Rabbit we will drop all of our leaves ultimately to  be truly real.

“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 every one.”

Thank you for walking with us on our journey! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


Thanksgiving Celebration!

     We are going to prepare a meal of turkey and dressing casserole and serve on the streets of Polk and Haight Thanksgiving and will have our first Eucharist since the shutdown.

      Until the pandemic is under control, and it is safe we will not use volunteers. We will not compromise on this stance. 



    We can use volunteers to put socks together. If you would like to help we will arrange for socks to be picked up or we will bring them to you. That would be most helpful. So please email or call.


We Truly Are Beggars!

    We have intentionally not since March, pushed for donations because people are struggling, and everywhere we turn you are receiving requests. But as we enter the holiday time of the year, we are begging for donations, our needs for socks, food, and support are deep. So please give, and we are beggars.

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

Pay pal on the website



Holy Communion

    For anyone desiring Holy Communion, we can set up time on Zoom or by phone, and celebrate together. Just email or call me — 415-305-2124. We can meet at your time of choice. You will simply need to have the elements of bread and wine or just bread.


    “Creator and lover of our souls: Teach us to release our burdens and accept your love.

    May your love be the deepest reality of our lives, and may we offer real love to others. Amen.”  (Daily Prayer for All Seasons, p. 147.

Holy Troublemakers

September 23, 2020

Holy Troublemakers and Unconventional Saints

by Daneen Akers

    Akers in this book emphasizes the stories of women. LGBTQ people, people of color, Indigenous people, and other who have often been written out of religious narratives. These stores are a challenge and move us towards more love and a faith that works for the common good of all.

    The main criticism is that she goes to a comfortable edge in her stories, people who basically are mainstream now. Many are controversial in other parts of the country, and in our conservative churches, but for San Francisco, they are rather tame.

    Several of these figures have challenged traditional sexual norms, yet little was discussed about those challenges.

    I laugh because I never have talked to church people about sexuality. My early experience raised in a homophobic church was all negative, anyone who was not married and did not do the missionary position was sinners, liking guys meant you would be hanged figuratively and sometimes literally. I remember in one town where I served a young man was caught having sex and his minister listed him in the bulletin for prayer, and the girl was shunned; now churches that are open and affirming never talked about sex and certainly not to youth–because of the fear deep within our society of pedophiles. Yet our advertisements on bulletin boards, T.V. etc. have girls that are really on the edge of being too young.

    My true sex education came as a whore on the street, and then later academically through university courses. I learned everything about sex on the streets, but the one lesson that I have worked through for years is that sex in any form is a gift from God provided you do not hurt anyone, but use it in care and concern for the other and for one’s self,   “Thou shalt love the Lord your God. . and your neighbor as yourself.”

    Sexuality is about our total being.  We are sexual, whether or not, we have the physical act of sex. It is in that blend of feminine and masculine that we find our greatest selves. We are sexual animals from the day we are born until the day that we die. 

    People of all ages, social backgrounds, and ages talk to me about sex, because their minister are afraid to, churches never talk to their youth, and I listen, without making a judgment.

    Forty-percent of LGBTQ youth is homeless, and alone because of their sexuality. One woman who is now 35, recently sent an email of thanks because she could talk to me about sex when she was 16, no other minister would talk to her without judgment.

    Sexuality has been used throughout history to control and manipulate people. Women have been subdued, controlled, and manipulated, and still are.

     Today sexuality is used in politics, ie abortion, and politicians continue to use it as a tool, that is turned into much pain for many, looking at the black and white, rather than the grey areas.

    Holy Troublemakers, Unconventional Saints does not open up those edges of sexuality, that bring the goodness to life. It is a good book about heroes, but the majority of the heroes mentioned have walked the tight edge of sexuality that is whole, good, and fruitful, and we need to hear of those edges.

    Until we open the doors, move out in the open about sexuality, and see it in all manifestations as but a kaleidoscope of life, we will continue an oppression of people which affects all of life.

    “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, thy mind, and thy strength, and thy neighbor as thyself.”

Jesus of  Nazareth


Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



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A New Vision of Maturity

September 21, 2020

A New Vision of Maturity

Feast of St. Matthew

John 21:1-8

Matthew 9:9-12

    A quote spoken by Ursula Le Guru summarizes my vision of maturity: 

“I believe that maturity is not an outgrowing, but a growing up: that an adult is not a dead child but a child who survives.”

    That speaks loads to me because I have survived, rejection, abuse, threats, and attempts on my life, a broken shoulder, malaria, and much more. I survived because like a child I  have flexibility, openness, and an ability to have compassion, even when it is painful.

    On this feast of St. Matthew his story reminds us of one who gave up everything for Jesus, and paying back all the money he had taken from others, the characteristic of a child, not caring for the material.

    I remember, another Matthew, my friend, who at 15 would be given a hundred dollars by his mom every time he came into the City to hang with me–he gave it away to the people on the street, and at 30 he still does the same. Matthew is a child, he cares for others.

    The youth we have known and hang with survive day by day because they are children who are flexible. not set in their ways. They can see the good in the worst of circumstances, they adjust and have an open heart. They always have hope.

    Many people have come and gone, and have spoiken words to me,  I listen, and am deaf to their advice, which would help me grow up–growing up in the rigid manner of society, but I  would not have survived if I had not remained a “child”.

    Recently I  spent  four hours snap chatting a nineteen-year-old in an abusive relationship, not with advice but listening, letting him enter into my life, and me in his, I was a child with another child, not an adult who had no time and only “advice.” I felt his pain, cried with him.

    A child has the qualities of openness, listening, caring, not being divisive, and trusting, all characteristics that we all need. A  child plays and is open with everyone, not taking sides. A child sees both sides of an issue. Children do- not judge. Children can be mean and vicious, and I have scars to prove it, but ultimately, they can be reasoned with. We all are mean and vicious at times , none of us are pure.

    Maturity is loving our neighbor as we love ourselves, maturity is being open to others, not divisive, listening, and caring. Maturity is being responsible in our actions.

    St. Ignatius teaches us to be “indifferent”, to not take sides, to not take things so seriously,  to not be pushed to and fro, to care only about the love that comes through Jesus of  Nazareth in caring for our brothers and sisters.  He was a child until the day he died.

    Father Henri Nouwen describes maturity and as the shadows darken \around my life they  ring true in these words:

“I find myself with the same old struggles every time I am in a new and unfamiliar milieu. In particular, the experience of isolation keeps returning, not in a lessening but in an increasing degree. Becoming older makes the experience of isolation much more familiar–may be simply because of sheer repetition–but not less painful.

So maybe the question is not how to cope better, but how to allow my unchanging character to become a way of humility and surrender to God. As I recognize my fears of being left alone and my desire for a sense of belonging, I may gradually give up my attempts to fill my loneliness and be ready to recongize with my heart that God is Immanuel-“God with us”, and that I belong to him before anything or anyone else.

And so a new vision of maturity may emerge: not a vision in which I am more and more able to deal with my own pains, but one in which I am more willing to let my Lord deal with them.  After all, maturation in a spiritual sense is a growing willingness to stretch out my arms, to have a belt put around me, and be led where I would rather not go. (John 21:18″

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


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In Our Flawed Democracy, Voting is a Renewable Resource

September 19, 2020

In Our Flawed Democracy, Voting Is a Renewable Resource

By Adam Russell Taylor

September18, 2020


“With less than 50 days until the last day to vote in this election, we are entering into the final sprint of what feels like the most consequential election certainly in my lifetime. Sojourners has long warned of the danger of narrow, single-issue voting, advocating instead that Christians should vote all of their values across a broad range of issues. But as Rev. Jim Wallis argued so well last week, we believe that racism is the central religious issue in the upcoming election. Of course, even referring to racism as “an issue” feels inappropriate because the pernicious and pervasive impacts of racism collide with every issue at stake in this election. That is why, between now and the final day of voting on Nov. 3, we will examine in greater depth a range of key issues through the lens of race. We hope and pray that this motivates you to vote up and down the ballot — from local school board races to district attorneys to congressional candidates and, of course, president of the United States.

While applying our faith and biblical principles to political choices can be both messy and challenging, what should unite us as Christians is who we prioritize when we enter the voting booth. From God’s requirement to “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8), to Jesus’ overriding ethic to care for those in need and to liberate the oppressed (Matthew 25 and Luke 4), the gospel is crystal clear that our first order priority as Christians is to protect and uplift people in the most vulnerable circumstances and most marginal places. This standard applies to how we live and to how we participate in public life, including how we vote. In every election, we must identify and carry with us the modern-day widows, orphans, immigrant people, and the disinherited. We must ask how candidates for every public office will defend and prioritize them while advancing the common good.

The moral responsibility of voting

In a democracy, even in one that is as flawed as our own, voting is an imperative for faithful citizenship and Christian discipleship. It is both a weapon for how we combat injustice and a renewable resource for how we restrain evil and advance the common good. Voting is also about accountability. As civil rights leader Cesar Chavez once said, “The day will come when the politicians do the right thing by our people out of political necessity and not out of charity or idealism.”

Abdicating this civic right and religious responsibility dishonors those who fought so hard for it and jeopardizes our very future. For those of you who are disillusioned with your choices, remember that a non-vote is actually a vote for the status quo. We are always faced with imperfect choices, and the kingdom of God is never squarely on the ballot. But we must use our spiritual discernment and prudential judgment to choose candidates who we believe most share our values, embrace our priorities, and will be best able to implement policies that prioritize those in need.

Faithful voting reflects a combination of our understanding of the candidate’s positions on important issues, your sense of their character, and their history of accomplishments. Voting can’t be reduced to a purely transactional exercise based on self-interest. Integrity and truth-telling, empathy and compassion, courage and conviction — these traits matter. So do experience and accomplishments, either in or out of office, because they provide a window into what a candidate will likely do if elected.

When we say the upcoming election is the most consequential election in our lifetime, it is not hyperbole or political spin, but a reflection of the perilous nature the crises that our communities, our nation, and our world face — the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism, the ongoing crisis of climate change, the deep erosion in public trust and alarming levels of polarization, and staggering levels of inequality and poverty. We must resist an “us versus them” politics and embrace a broader “we,” committing to advance the common good. Groundbreaking polling and research by More in Common finds that a majority of Americans, which they refer to as “the exhausted majority,” are fed up with America’s deep polarization and yearn for politicians who are solutions-oriented, reject incivility and zero-sum politics, and emphasize the ways in which we have more in common than what divides us.

Sojourners’ mission rests on three core pillars: economic and racial justice, life and peace, and environmental stewardship. We hope that these pillars can provide a practical roadmap in the midst of this contentious election. First and foremost, as it relates to faithful citizenship, that means whether all citizens will have the opportunity to vote in a free, fair, and safe election is of central concern. As we’ve written over the years, it is an assault on the imago dei, the image of God in each and every one of us, to attempt to suppress even one person’s vote. In this time of pandemic that has already claimed nearly 200,000 lives in the United States, we should be making it easier to vote safely, not harder.

A racial and economic reckoning

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic hangs over the entire 2020 election like a thick and unrelenting fog. By the time of Election Day, the nation will be approaching a staggering 250,000 deaths from the virus. We need leaders who can provide bold, science-driven direction to combat the virus, care for those in the most vulnerable conditions, and foster an economic recovery that leads to a radically more just and equitable new normal. We need leaders committed to calling forth our sense of communal responsibility to protect ourselves and our neighbors by wearing masks and practicing social distancing for as long as is deemed necessary. We also need leaders who understand our moral responsibilities and practical interdependence with the rest of the world, which requires global leadership in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Alarmingly, due to the pandemic and global recession, the World Bank estimates that 40-60 million additional people will fall into extreme poverty in 2020 and the Gates Foundation estimates that the pandemic has set back global health and the Sustainable Development Goal agenda by 25 years.

In the midst of our nation’s ongoing and long overdue racial reckoning, we should support leaders who understand how centuries of structural racism affect every facet of our economy and society — and who have concrete plans to redress these injustices. The pandemic of racial police violence and systemic racism will require elected officials who are committed to more than simply cosmetic or incremental reforms to policing and criminal justice. We need leaders who are willing and able to ensure equal justice under the law applies to Black lives and who support both bold reforms and real transformation.

To give just one example, it’s important to understand the influence wielded by district attorneys, sheriffs, judges, mayors, and members of town and city councils to control how public safety and policing are conducted in our communities. We should be keenly attentive to the impact candidates and ballot initiatives are likely to have on the protection of Black lives specifically.

Of course, issues of racial equity stretch far beyond policing and criminal justice and into education, employment, health care, and so much more. There is an integral connection between racism and poverty that should inform how we think about economic justice, which in turn should heavily influence how we vote. We should scrutinize policies and policy makers to ensure that the solutions they propose to the immediate economic crisis most benefit those who have the least, rather than exacerbating the existing inequalities that were already getting worse before COVID-19. The 2,000 verses in the Bible proclaiming God’s justice for the poor and the oppressed demand to be taken seriously by Christians when they step into the voting booth. The exercise of this civic duty cannot be divorced from the tangible impacts officeholders and their policies have on the advancement of racial and economic justice or the furthering of injustice and oppression. And we must elect leaders who will end inhumane detention, reverse mass deportations, and are determined to finally pass bold, just, and effective reforms that provide a permanent solution — and do not discriminate against Black, Indigenous, and people of color — for DACAmented people and enabling over 11 million undocumented men, women and children to pursue a path to citizenship.

How we do life together

We believe that Christians are called to support and protect the life and essential dignity of all of God’s children through every stage of life, no exceptions. That means the lives of children separated from their parents at the border, regardless of citizenship, are worth no less than lives in the womb. Abortion is so often used as a political wedge; instead, we can support leaders who are committed to working together to dramatically reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies through common ground solutions, such as increasing access to health care, ensuring access to affordable child care, and enhancing reproductive health. Protecting life means opposing capital punishment and supporting active peacemaking to prevent armed conflict. It means taking weapons of war off of our streets and keeping them away from our schools. It means supporting gender equity and justice and supporting policies that end domestic and sexual violence.

It’s important to note again that people of color are affected by each and every one of these threats to life and peace disproportionately, both in the United States and around the world.

Protecting the future

When we vote, we are making decisions ranging from which member of the town council supports initiatives to ensure clean drinking water for people in low-income housing to which candidate supports international treaties to combat climate change. It also means examining candidates and policies to determine who will protect the land and water rights of Indigenous people from multinational corporations. The stain and sin of racism are very much present in these issues as well, as we see egregious examples of environmental racism from contaminated water in Flint to lead paint in Baltimore. We’re seeing increasingly dire consequences of our changing climate already; science tells us the worst impacts are still ahead of us — and we are running out of time to avoid catastrophe. That’s why we must support politicians who offer bold leadership to combat climate change and advance environmental justice.

Just before the 2016 election, Congressman John Lewis said, “the right to vote is precious, almost sacred. It is the most powerful nonviolent tool or instrument in a democratic society.” We must all not only utilize this powerful tool, we must use it wisely so that together we elect leaders capable of and committed to advancing liberty and justice for all and transforming our nation’s broken politics.”


     One of my favorite stories comes from Hindu Scripture. There are two knights of differing opinions and each day they awake, eat breakfast, and spend the day fighting’s, with all of their strength. When one loses they lay down their swords, sit down, laughing, and fellowship together. They agree to disagree, and are friends.

A friend and I were recently talking about our view on medical marijuana and she told me, “I do not agree with your position, but I love you any way.” I have friends and supporters of all political persuasions, races, creeds, religious and ethnic groups, and what ties us together is our love of one another, and our love of the street youth we serve. We agree to disagree. Win or lose we are always friends. We talk to each other, we fight with each other, but at the end of the day we sit down, eat together, laugh and play together. For all that truly matters are our love of one another. In this world full of storms, all we have is each other.

     We are all children of one God, let us agree to disagree, and care for each other, be there for each other, and bring healing and peace to our nation and world. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

(Sorry for three blogs but we felt the timing of each was important.)


Rosh Hasanah

September 18, 2020

Rosh Hasahanah—A Time for All to Pray for Peace and Justice

This morning we were reminded that our Jewish brothers and sisters have begun their holiday of :

Rosh Hashanah commemorates the creation of the world and marks the beginning of the Days of Awe, a 10-day period of introspection and repentance that culminates in the Yom Kippur holiday, also known as the Day of Atonement. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the two “High Holy Days” in the Jewish religion.”

            And on this day we are reminded of the Sabra and Satila  massacre, the killing of between 460 and 3500 civilians, mostly Palestinians and Lebanese Shites, by a militia close to the Kataeb Party, a predominantly Christian Lebanese right wing-party, in the Sabra neighborhood and the adjacent Shatila refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon. It was carried out in plain sight of the Israelite Defense Forces.

            Dr. Karen Melander-Magoon sent us this poem which is one not of hatred or revenge, but one of inspiration asking for remedies to violence and injustice.

            Dorothy Day reminds us that true revolution begins with a revolution of our hearts, one of a change to love, compassion, and non-violence.  So as we view  this poem, read it slowly and  out loud, let the words penetrate the  heart:

Another Eulogy to Ariel Sharon

The ghosts of Sabra and Shatila dance

Three thousand bodies dig

Dig holes to Hell

For a brutal man who died

Who left his coma of eight years

Who walked through burning dreams

Into his final resting place

The ghosts of Lebanon

Have laid their snakes and burning embers

Upon his final bed

That he may never sleep

The young boys savagely aroused

From innocent slumber

To be murdered

As Ariel Sharon

Stood by and smiled

Stood by and planned

Made blueprints in his head

For savage slaughter

Of more Palestinians

Laughing as he raped the land

Laughing as he slipped out of ignominy

Farcical, forgotten international censure

To lead the people Israel

To destroy with vengeance

All whose ancestry claimed title

To a Chosen People’s apostate land

Arik, the ghosts hear you praised

For disbanding settlements in Gaza

Only to return to murder

All those who contaminate your Jewish state

Your 101 squads left lakes of Palestinian blood

Yet that was not enough

Massacres of thousands in Beirut

Were not enough

Thousands killed in Gaza

Were not enough

Arik, your anguish was the resurrection

of intrepid villagers

Rebuilding Caterpillar’s ruined villages

Rebuilding over Rachel’s ghost

Rebuilding bulldozed villages

For the ghosts of children

Whose small bodies

Dared not bleed in vain

Your anguish and scorn

Was for the people’s

Never-ending courage

Even in your coma

You inspired more death

As the USA continued to look on

And do nothing

But share your guilt

Add to your arsenal of weapons

And share your guilt

Add to your arsenal of weapons and wealth

To continue to fulfill your blueprint

Even engineered while you slept

To bring a Promised Land to Israel

Built on deceit and cunning

Built on the blood and bodies

Of a slaughtered people

Who will arise again

From their own blood

To embrace the ghosts of Sabra and Shatila

And dance with them

On their ancestral land

On their Arab Semitic land

To dance with them

With open arms

Embracing all

Jew, Muslim, Christian

Embracing all

In showers of reconciliation

That wash away the blood

That sublimate the horror

That transform genocide

That transform your sins, Ariel Sharon

Into a truly promised land

Into a democratic Palestine

Into a people’s Promised Land

For all

And built on love

          So we join our Jewish brothers and sisters during this celebration in praying for peace on all sides, in walking the way of non-violence, where swords will be turned into plow shares. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



Snap Chat: riodamien2

Facing Our Mortality

September 18, 2020

Facing Our Mortality

But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.” I Corinthians 15:20

   The summer my brother died I was transferred  to a small town in Southeast Missouri. One of the first people I met was a lady, Carla, 38, mother of  two teenage daughters whose  forty-year-old husband had recently died of a heart attack, they were in deep grief seeking answers to the question of death.

    Throughout the year Carla would say to me: “Why don’t you , “preach  the Word of what  happens when we die, you seem like you don’t believe. I need to have some real faith and hope.” I was numb with grief myself, and my sermons were  frankly taken out of a book. I was also finishing up my last year of seminary two hundred miles away. Numbness, insensitivity, doubt, and fear were very visible. I gave no hope, no faith, because I too had none.

    I stayed for one year, I moved in order to run away from her questions, and from the impending death of a nineteen year old dying of cancer.  I feared death.

    Through the years I ran away from death in many forms, my sexual orientation, my fear of being a failure, for death comes in many forms, and we are preparing for our final death in how we deal with those forms.

    Carla’s words and her journey has been a haunting of the Spirit that has pushed me into facing death, in my failure with her, I found  new life. She made me face death head-on.

    Protestant martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer saw in World War II, a grace that comes cheap, grace that keeps us comfortable, which  will never redeem this sin-scared earth. Only costly grace can do that; only men and women who can find the grace that can be found in the Eucharist: “This is my body. .given for you.” Given for Christ, given for the crucified images of Christ.

    Through the Eucharist, we can embrace the crucified Christ, in the giving of our lives in caring for one another–fighting all the “ism’s” and loving those who hate us. Through the Eucharist, we are called to live in this world knowing that in giving our lives away we are facing our own mortality. We come alive in facing our little deaths.

    Carla taught me by her words and actions the words of Henri Nouwen:

To befriend death, we must claim that we are children of God, sisters, and brothers of all people, and parents of generations yet to come. In so doing, we liberate our death from its absurdity and make it a gateway to a new life.

In our society, in which childhood is something to grow away from, in which wars, political and ethnic conflicts constantly mock brotherhood and sisterhood among people, and in which  the greatest emphasis is on succeeding in the few years we have, it hardly seems possible that death could be a gateway to anythng.

Still, Jesus has opened this way for us. When we choose his way to live and die, we can face our death with the mocking question of the Apostle Paul: “Death where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?”(I Corinthias 15:55). This is a choice, but a hard choice. The powers of darkness that surround us are strong and easily tempt us to let our fear of death rule our thoughts, words, and actions.

But can we choose to befriend our death as Jesus did? We can choose to live as God’s beloved children in solidarity with all people, trusting our ultimate fruitfulness. And in so doing, we can also become people who care for others. As men and women, boys and girls who have faced our mortality, we can help our brothers and sisters to dispel the darkness of death and guide them toward the light of God’s grace. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Prepare for Disaster!

September 15, 2020

“We are leveraging the power of people while ensuring preparedness support and information is not only limited to those who have been privileged enough to access, understand and afford it.”

– Governor Gavin Newsom


Society of  Franciscan Workers/Temenos Catholic Worker



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Then They Will Come For You!

September 11, 2020

When They Come for You!

First, they came for the communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a communist.
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the labor leaders, but I did not speak out because I was not a unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
As one day became another and others disappeared, gypsies, mentally retarded, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, criminals, anti-social, and emigrants, I remained silent because I was not one of them.
Then it was they came for me, but no one spoke for me because by then there was no one left to speak.
Martin Niemoller,1945.

    Last night going into Walgreen’s Sean, sat outside the door. He looks ancient, and he has always been a pest, always in my face begging for one thing or another. He looked so broken, no teeth, dirty, unshaven, hair long.

     I began to feel two strong emotions, and started crying: love, for at that moment I loved him and knew he could hound me all he wanted, for he did not deserve to be sitting out in the cold, in the air clouded by ash and smoke; and there were remorse and anger.

    Remorse, my own survivor’s guilt,  as I left the store, gave him some food, and went home to my nice warm place, with fresh flowers in the window, and anger as people walked by and did not even see him.

    I imagine that his life many years ago was similar to most of ours, he had parents, a home, and lived a good life, but then things turned sour, for the worse, similar to a pandemic. He lost his job, and then his place to live, and finally found himself living on the street. His friends turned their faces, for he was “homeless”, and now just a number, and a reminder of their possible future.

     We should never judge a person living on the street, for we never know how they arrived. Some may use drugs, but those drugs are very comforting when you live in a doorway, without a blanket, food, and so cold you shiver, and I mean shiver all night. In the same way, they comfort people who live in mansions, in their suffering.

    Jesus says in our Gospel today: “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying ‘Friend”, let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? “Hypocrite! First, get rid of the long in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” How can we judge another when we have a “log” in our own eye?

Then it was they came for me, but no one spoke for me because by then there was no one left to speak.

    Speak to someone on the street today! Hand them some food! Six feet apart!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164