Sloughing Towards Bethlehem

Our Life Roads-Sloughing Towards Bethlehem

James 1:18. “In the fulfillment of his own purpose, he gave us birth by the word of truth so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.”

    We all need to discover our lives as a series of roads. Each stage of our life from birth to death is a different road.

    Some of us are first fruits beautiful, refreshing, but most of us are like end of season turnips, worn, dirty,  tough, not so good looking. And if we let him, Jesus will use us and turn our ugliness into beautfy radiating his love for others.

    These roads are filled with losses.  Since March my life has been filled with many losses–holding the hands of several who have died from the coronavirus, seeing others very sick, seeing people on the street suffer, so terribly, I can not walk out my door without taking  food or socks, people are laying in desperation, not knowing what way to turn, they have so little, difficulty into accessing services, pure suffering; myself being injured, and having to take it one day at a time. I am surrounded by suffering, fear, and pain. I feel the Angel of Death fluttering around.

     Personally I have been in the hospital, recovering at home, with warnings, “to be careful”, “you are vulnerable,” I hear her wings fluttering, always a reminder death is near.

    I have struggled with living my losses as roads of anger, blame, hatred, depression, fear and resentment, and simply giving up. Why not just walk away, disappear, no one will miss me? Self pity at its best, that’s me.

    These are symptoms of the  fatal disease of futility, but when we use these symptoms of mortality, of our humanness, we come into a community of the weak, and new hope emerges in the affirmation of resurrection, of new life. Life is no longer futile but continues beyond death, and we in our gifts to others of love proclaim the Kingdom of love, care, and hope.

    Through the years I have come to see and to understand that every moment of life is precious, is good, and that in our worst situations all will be well. 

    God is good. In our Scripture from James, we read of the first fruits of creation, but my guess is if we asked we might find out that the oldest, ugliest, gnarliest turnip in the bunch gives God as much pleasure as the unblemished one.

    Jesus tells us to love our neighbor, and we say, “I can not stand some of my neighbors, in fact, I love only two or three people, so how can I LOVE my neighbor?

    Personally I have learned the meaning of Flannery O’Connor’s words: “What people don’t realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket when of course it is the cross.”

    Caring for others is the cross, it is painful, and Fr. Henri Nouwen describes the best definition of loving others to cross my desk:

“Love among people is not first of all a feeling or an emotion or a sentiment but a decision of the will to be faithful to each other. .There are really no people whom we can love with unlimited feelings of love. We are all imperfect, broken, sinful people, but we are able to will to be faithful and constantly forgive each other’s unfaithfulness.”

    We are “Sloughing Towards Bethlehem, ever so slowly evolving into loving our neighbor as ourselves. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


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