A Little Piece of Heaven

We Find Heaven In Giving

“Practice kindness all day to everybody and you will realize you’re already in heaven now.” Jack Kerouac

Matthew 25:31-46: “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 a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me to your 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 the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me.”

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    “Giving Tuesday,” is December 7. It is a day we normally avoid because it smirks of capitalism (see how weird I am). In the evolution of our thinking, we see it as a day in which to emphasize the importance of giving, in bringing us into “heaven”, here and now.

    When I was a pastor in middle-class churches the preaching of the above passage was simply encouraging people to practice charity. To contribute to special offerings, give Christmas gifts to the poor, etc. It was a practice for those who were on the lower plane. I had a nice car, house, and plenty of money. My congregation and I were to do our duty and give to those who were homeless and not “blessed”. It was all theoretical and a “duty” to be done.

    And one day I became one of the “least of these”–without food, shelter, health care, friends, and this passage came alive. My colleagues turned their backs, my “friends” cease to exist, and I found myself on the streets in Hollywood doing prostitution to survive.

    Food and housing were precious, hard to come by, and to this day I find myself overeating at times for fear of not having a meal later. I check my electrical outlets leaving the apartment for fear of it burning down. When I leave town there is a fear I won’t have a home to return to.  Once you have been without, it always haunts and brings one to an understanding of being sure no one goes without or unrecognized. Those fears always haunt you.

    The people who touched my life during that period of time were from all walks of life–movie actors, evangelists, prostitutes, conservatives, liberals, black, white, brown, mixed–teaching that labels, the color of skin, sexual orientation, and religious affiliation meant nothing–only the caring with love, and without judgment is what matters. Real beauty comes only in caring for others.

    So in the days ahead as we prepare for Christmas, and for “Giving Tuesday” let us meditate on the words of Leo Tolstoy:

“Nothing can make our life, or the lives of other people, more beautiful than perpetual kindness.”

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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Father River Damien Sims

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

Snapchat: riodamien2

415-305-2124

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