Archive for April, 2021

The Jesus Thing

April 29, 2021

The Jesus Thing!

Jesus said to his disciples, “In those days, after the tribulation, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. And the stars will fall from the sky. And the powers in the heavens will be shaken, and they will see ‘the human one coming on the clouds with great power and glory. . . . Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Mark 13:24–27, 31)

    In a conversation with Matt Frederick, about his graduation party yesterday, he asked me: ‘What keeps you going, no matter what, you get up when knocked down and keep on going with a positive attitude, is it the “Jesus thing?”

    I am still laughing, no one has ever referred to my vocation as the “Jesus thing.”

    The one thing I have learned is that nothing is permanent, all can be swept away in a second, and all things are passing away, but “The Jesus thing,” is always there. I have felt his presence intensely in these months of seeing death and experiencing pain. His presence is real as my time draws near.

    And as I go to Portland I am very aware of how the world is passing away. I am hanging with Josh and Chris, two 38 years old’s whom I have known since they were 14, one is now a banker, the other Director of Habitat for Humanity; and celebrating soon to be 32 years old Matthew’s celebration from law school; yesterday lunch with twenty-one-year-old Matthew, hanging with him for now 8 years, and always offering to be with me when I am ill; living on the other side of Matthew, 19 and 21-year-old Aron and Brandon; last night skateboarding with  15-year-old Jamie, he is so stressed out over zoom school, struggling with grades now–going from an A average to C.

    These are only a few as Matthew Frederick says of the “thousands” encountered in our ministry.

    I am reminded of a quote: “We are all in the same boat on a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty,” and that loyalty means we see everyone as family. These guys are my family. Our ministry is to be family to anyone we encounter.

    A minister friend commented, “No one is listening to each other anymore, we are all alone on the journey.” And he is absolutely correct–our world is torn apart by our failure to listen to one another. For in listening we become family with each other.

    We too are called to listen to one another through our acts of love, we embody the message we bear.

    Let us follow Jesus into Galilee aiming to:

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire (Catherine of Siena). Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


April 27, 2021

Book Review and Reflection on Nomadland by Jessica Bruder

    NOMADLAND is a book about our times. In the last year, we have encountered three couples in their mid-fifties, who lost their jobs, and their housing. All three couples said to us basically the same thing: they can not afford housing, with what they have saved, jobs are impossible because society no longer sees them because of agism so they were going to hit the road in their campers, and travel, find jobs along the way, and not deal with the capitalistic society.

    NOMADLAND is a book and film about our times–about a culture in which the middle class is being pushed out, and there is a great divide between the wealthy and the poor. It is a story about ageism, where people from the age of fifty forward are squeezed out of jobs, with little to live on with their pensions, etc.

    People retire with only their Social Security of one to two thousand dollars; and pensions giving out the same or less, and how can they live on this amount?

    In the book, we find the story of individuals who sell everything, because they can not afford to live their old lifestyles and take to the road. They go from the Amazon factory in Iowa working minimum wage at Christmas, to National Parks working as campground hosts at the same price.

     They call themselves nomads making up a subculture, going unnoticed by society. Their friends simply disappear, and these nomads form their own social system.

    One of the key differences between the homeless and nomads is that the nomads are in rebellion against the capitalistic society, while the homeless get enslaved to the system.

    They take to heart Henry Thoreau’s words: “That man is richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.”

Amazon and other large corporations set up campgrounds in order to use nomads to pay cheap wages.

    The theme of the book and movie is the United States has been rated as one of the most unequal countries in the world. The top 1% have most of the money, and the middle class and lower is a part of the bottom 60%.

    The book is very clear the elderly are forgotten, their income drops after a certain age or no income, and pensions and Social Security are nothing. I have youth who get $900.00 disability a month, that will not rent a room in the City any longer.

    I move among all areas of society, the rich, the poor, the middle class, and the homeless. They live in caste systems, never seeing each other.

    I have friends in Marin and the Pennisula who live in neighborhoods where they leave their doors unlocked; I also have friends in both neighborhoods who are poor and homeless–two different worlds. And they can not leave their doors open if they have one.

    I was talking with a pastor friend yesterday and he commented that no one ever listens anymore, and there is a great lack of empathy. I know and feel that very strongly.

    Everyone wants to put it in the hands of the government, and people want quick fixes; the government will continue to try, to build a bureaucratic wall that seeks to control the problem, but I can promise you it “ain’t” going to be fixed.

    The truth is I have stopped trying to “fix” people, and bureaucracies, all I know how to do is be a pastor and walk with people in their pain. They are not famous, they are nobodies like I am, and all of us rich, poor, middle class, etc. are children of a loving God who calls each one of us to love our neighbor, to speak to each other, and to share of our bounty in order that others may live a full life.  Tell your heart that the fear of  people is far greater than people themselves. 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 Sacred Journey

April 25, 2021


“Where Jacob Walked With God..”

Newsletter of Temenos Catholic Worker

May 2021



Journal of An Alien Street Priest:

The Sacred Journey

    In the years before San Francisco, I allowed myself to be moved every two to three years from church to church. After my reconversion on the streets of Los Angles, I took for myself a personal vow of “stability”, promising to stay in ministry in San Francisco, until God provided a clear sign otherwise. It has been a “Sacred Journey.”

    Yesterday, we celebrated Gary’s (photo above) 50th birthday. He has lived on the streets since age 14, where we met him at age 24. We have journeyed together through drug overdose, being violated, and the struggles of the street; Gary is always telling me how he has stock in Google, and now in Microsoft, and is going to give me a  million dollars, I laugh, nod, and thank him for the coming gift. Yesterday we went to “Memphis Bell” in the Haight for a southern barbecue dinner.

    I think of Matthew, soon to be 31. I met Matthew seventeen years ago when he asked me to pick him up for a Good Friday service, thus beginning a friendship with him and his parents, making me a part of his family.  This weekend I go to Portland for his graduation party from law school; We think of Greg, 28, in prison serving 25 years to life, for murder, meeting him at 14, prostituting, and at 18 sitting with him being sentenced to life, and continuing our friendship. I  baptized him in prison several years ago.

    We are reminded every day: “The street transforms every ordinary day into a series of quick questions and every incorrect answer risks a beat down, shooting, or pregnancy” Te-Nehisi Coates, and our task is “Doing Little things with great love.”

    And Jesus reminds us in our text that a new community was formed around the theological conviction that there is “one flock, one shepherd,” and in the Paschal Mystery, we see the final stage of creation. Nothing created was left unredeemed by the astonishing gift of his life, freely given and taken up. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


Congratulate: Matthew Yeley Frederick for His Law School Graduation: Email:


Surgery: Personally I will be having hernia surgery on May 13, 2021. Will be off my feet for two-three weeks, available for counseling by phone beginning May 15, 415-305-2124.  Will make hospital emergency calls after May 15 as well.


   We are Beggars! Our Work Continues:

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Pay Pal on www.

Thank you: Fr. River Damien Sims


Day of Silence, My Silence, My Story

April 23, 2021

Day of Silence, My Silence, My Story!

John 10: 11-18English Standard Version

“11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have the authority to lay it down, and I have the authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

    The GLSEN Day of Silence is a national student-led demonstration where LGBTQ and allied students demonstrate and take a vow of silence to protest the harmful effect of harassment and discrimination of LGTBQ students in schools and all out of school.

    We will begin a period of silence from dawn until 7:00 p.m. today, April 23, 2021.

    On the morning of March 26, I awoke in Palm Springs, my birthday, to a day of 84-degree temperature, clear sky, and the mountains glistening in the sun. A beautiful day.

    Preparing to go out to dinner around 5:00 p.m. a snap chat popped up from a young friend in Texas, wanting to talk on zoom. In a few minutes, this bright, smiling, blue-eyed 17-year-old came upon on computer screen. .

    Ryan talked of how he liked everyone, male, female, black, white red, etc., chattering like a magpie. He had come across the term “pansexual” and concluded this term describe himself. But in his small-town, that sent up shock ways, his friends turned on him, as well as his church. His parents had decided to send him away to a private school to protect him. And suddenly he pulled a gun up to his head and pulled the trigger. Blood spattered all over the screen. And I went dark emotionally.

    The scripture text for his funeral meditation was John 10:11-18, and there was no silence about Jesus being his Good Shepherd as well as all people, regardless of whatever label they carry.  In those moments. I spoke loudly and clearly that  Jesus loves all  for who they are without reservation.

    Ryan’s story is one heard many, many, times through the years and the silence that destructively kills people emotionally, and physically.

    My own story is similar growing up in a small town, questioning my sexuality, getting a girl pregnant, with silence all around, crippling emotional growth; entering the ministry as a young guy, questioning, questioning in silence, being crippled even more.

    One day wanting to talk about this struggle requesting my superior to let me have a therapist, I found myself suddenly being kicked out of my job, with colleagues turning their backs on me, totally alone. Simply for raising a question. My friends, and all I knew, accept for  some lay members, turned their backs in silence. I did not exist.

    My discovery of who I was came in my years on the street as a hooker, acting out my fantasies, hating the church, hating all institutions. And early one morning, after a long night, simply sitting inside the Los Angles Cathredral, sitting  in the corner of  Our Lady of Guadalupe, there seemed to be a voice inside me saying, “River I called you in your mother’s womb, I know you, go and preach.”     That was the beginning of my journey of entering the world of living a life of faith and practice, off the street, and also on the street in service.

    Ryan called himself a pan-sexual, and as much as I hate, really hate labels, on this day I too am a pan-sexual, loving people without labels. I honor him, and his life of compassion.

    Today take the vow of silence, for one day, and in that silence remember how our silence destroys young men and women emotionally and physically; how our silence destroys people who are of another color than we are; and of how our silence destroys ourselves for not speaking out for all who are oppressed.

     Join me in being a “pan-sexual” for one day–take some food out to a homeless individual, write a letter to a friend, love in silence at least one person today.  Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

Warranted Words

April 20, 2021

Warranted Words

Acts 7:51-8:1a

Ps. 31

John 6:30-35

    We are always receiving feedback on all our social media, and on the street,  words like “F…k you”, and really many more descriptive words. Some days there seems to be nothing warranted.

    But none of these words compare to the last prayer of Stephen in Acts 7:59 as he was stoned:

“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,” and he fell to his knees, shouting: “Lord don’t charge them with this sin,” and with that, he died.”

    Stephen teaches us that in the eyes of many people their words are warranted, and these words are dealing death physically and in spirit but the words of Jesus call us to love others. Jesus calls us to forgive those who hurt us with unwarranted words.

We can either play it safe: keep our mouths shut or we can proclaim the Word of love in our words and actions. All religions teach the law of love.

    People ask why we follow Jesus, the answer is simply–he has the words of life:

“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again.  Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty ( John 6:35).

The Universal Christ has truly risen and speaks the warranted words of loving one another.   And our cup runneth over with the Holy Spirit. Amen and Alleluia. Might we make these our loudest Easter words through feeding the hungry, loving the mentally ill, providing housing and health care? Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



A Great Sadness

April 18, 2021

A Journey on the Edge–The Great Sadness!

Luke 24:35-36:

“And as they told what things that were done in the way, and how he was known to them in the breaking of bread.

And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them “Peace be unto you.”

Psalm 118:

“O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good:

because his mercy endureth for ever. .”


These past months I have been experiencing what William Paul Young calls the Great Sadness”. not depression, simply a great sadness. Many days I shed tears spontaneously.

I have held the hands of people dying, seen the suffering of people with the virus; a couple of my guys have died violently,  and I see the pain on the streets each day– people sleeping in our doorways. ally’s and parks; many outside my doorway, always asking for food, a blanket, socks, and simply to listen. Walking the Haight most put on a show asking for money, but in talking with them there is much fear and loneliness.

I find myself understanding in visiting with my close friends, their lives are different, they have housing, food, and like having a good time with me, and comment sometimes that I seem different. There are really some aspects of ministry can not be shared.   And yet they love me.

And I am learning much in these months:

   1.  Many are experiencing that same sadness, never talk about their feelings; the rich, poor, homeless, young, middle-aged, and old.  In reality, if we tear off our outer coverings, we can suffer together, fine life together. We can share and bring healing to the world.

    2. There really are no solutions to end homelessness, poverty, climate change, etc. until each human being embraces the identity of sharing with one another simply as brothers and sisters;

    3. Finally, the gift given to me is simply  “Being”, to simply be open to letting others into my life, to suffer, to rejoice, and to care. To remember the challenge at my ordination: “To wait tables,” and be “a keeper of the mysteries”. And to hear the following words:

Wild Geese–Mary Oliver

“You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile, the world goes on.

Meanwhile, the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies, and deep trees, the mountains and rivers.

Meanwhile, the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.”

“Praise to You Yahweh Our God, Ruler of all, who has given us life, kept us alive and enabled us to reach this moment” (Old Jewish Centering Prayer.)

May we hear the words of the Universal Christ, always standing in our midst saying: “Peace be unto you!”


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Book Review: A Gift for Gracelyn by A.E. Smith

April 17, 2021

Book Review: A Gift for Gracelyn

By A. E. Smith

“And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.. Whosoever shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whosoever receiveth this little child in my name receiveth me. .(Matthew 18:2-5).


    Gracelyn is a young girl who lives on a small ranch called Eagle Wings with her family and animal friends. She has to go to a  hospital for a life-saving operation and will miss being at home for her twelfth birthday. While Gracelyn prepares to go to the hospital, the animals living at the ranch decide that Gracelyn should have a birthday gift. They work together to surprise her with the perfect present, but how will they get it to her? The clever animals choose a gift that hides their identity and beauty until the time is right.

    Together, Gracelyn and her older brother Terry discover the charming secrets of the birthday present. There are even more happy surprises to come, much to everyone’s delight. This is a story about giving the best gift of all. They gathered a bunch of seeds and carried them to the hospital many miles away. They were planted and blossomed during her long hospitalization into an array of blossoms. These creatures gave of themselves, expecting nothing in return.

    Their message to us is the message of Jesus when we become like little children we give of ourselves without expecting anything in return; we see people without blinders of color, economic status, religion, or whether they are disabled or not.

    As we enter the post-pandemic period let us take to heart the message of these animals and youth, to become like little children, in giving of ourselves, our money, our time, and provide for those who have nothing, and nurture one another.

    Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Enfleshed Peace As The Ghost’s Surround Us

April 16, 2021

Enfleshed Peace As the Ghosts Surround Us

Luke 24:36-48. .but the whole group was terrified thinking they had seen a ghost. .”

Ghosts, haunt the living, they represent the unfinished business of the dead, and the unfinished business of the living as well. As the writer of Luke’s gospel alludes: “They were startled and terrified and thought they were seeing a ghost (24:37)”. The disciples are convinced that this figure of Jesus in their midst is a phantom, there to settle a score because they are guilty.  Only a few days earlier, they had abandoned Jesus. They had deserted their friend in his time of need–even denying they knew him. On that first Easter at dusk in the city where Jesus was killed, within walking distance from his grave, the disciples find themselves with a presence. And they are terrified.

“At first, they saw Jesus as a manifestation of death, Dominican theological Herbert McCabe preached on this resurrection account. “They have to learn that he is a manifestation of life.” Jesus stood among them and said, “Peace be with you,” with a smile of love, showing he had not come with a grudge. And he says to them “For a ghost does not have flesh and bones you see that I have.” (verse 29). And he tells his friends they are to go preach repentance of forgiveness throughout the world.

The ghosts surround me and, they surround all of us, I have been in ministry since I was eighteen years old, and have touched the lives of thousands. And each day as I move on the street, I think of the one’s I see on every street corner, a  recent suicide, the people whose hands I have held in death these months, and the thousands whom I have taken care of through the years and wonder if I have failed. I call one ghost the “Angel of Death”, who flutters around, reminding me that my time is near, reminding me to do my best.

Jesus returns to the site of his betrayal, to the people who renounce him, in order to announce forgiveness. He will not let the forces of alienation and death govern his life. Instead, Jesus surprises the guilty with an offer of peace.

And so his face appears laughing, waving the ghosts away reminding me how much he loves me and tells me I am safe in his arms, and with a reminder to simply do my best. That presence is so vibrant, so alive, so real!

Let Jesus sweep your ghosts away as well, simply be open to his voice! He loves each of us more than anything else in the world, trust, and no matter what comes. you will feel safe.!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos. org



We have decided to offer our notary service to anyone in need:


The Lonely Road

April 14, 2021


False and True Worship- NRSV Isa. 58

Shout out, do not hold back!
    Lift up your voice like a trumpet!
Announce to my people their rebellion,
    to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet day after day they seek me
    and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness
    and did not forsake the ordinance of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments,
    they delight to draw near to God.
“Why do we fast, but you do not see?
    Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?”
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day,
    and oppress all your workers.
Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
    and to strike with a wicked fist.
Such fasting as you do today
    will not make your voice heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
    a day to humble oneself?
Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush,
    and to lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast,
    a day acceptable to the Lord?

Is not this the fast that I choose:
    to loose the bonds of injustice,
    to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
    and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
    and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
    and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator[a] shall go before you,
    the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
    you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

If you remove the yoke from among you,
    the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
10 if you offer your food to the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
    and your gloom be like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you continually,
    and satisfy your needs in parched places,
    and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
    like a spring of water,
    whose waters never fail.
12 Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
    you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
    the restorer of streets to live in.

13 If you refrain from trampling the sabbath,
    from pursuing your own interests on my holy day;
if you call the sabbath a delight
    and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
    serving your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs;[b]
14 then you shall take delight in the Lord,
    and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Jacob,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.


    I was an associate pastor in my first parish, after seminary, in a large church in St. Louis. My youth group was primarily Black and Hispanic.  One night we traveled downtown to hang out around the Arch. It was dark. I walked around for a few minutes alone and returned and the police had them lined up until I came forward;  Several years ago I was in another town, not far from San Francisco, around midnight with four Hispanic friends. At MacDonald’s the police pulled us over, questioned us for an hour, making sure none of my friends were undocumented or using their vulgar words “illegal”, all were citizens; Late one night in another county I left a friend’s house at midnight, and my Hispanic friend was pulling his school books out of the car before I headed home, six cars of police swarmed my van. They stated there had been robberies in the neighborhood and the van looked suspicious, as well as my friend and I. I let them search the van from top to bottom, and stood by a police car, and finding nothing they simply drove away. In all three incidents, racism is apparent, we can not hide from that fact.

    I dare to say if my friends had been white, we would not have been noticed.

    We need to look within ourselves and see racism in our acts, I mean all of us black, brown, white, red blue, whatever color for there is racism in all of us. We need to work at rooting out racism from every core of our being.

    Ramadan began yesterday and will end on May 12. Ramadan is a sacred season of looking inward, at our wrongs and bring forth what our lives can do. Dorthy Day reflected: “Love is a harsh and dreadful thing: because it demands so much both of us givers and receivers,” and Isaiah 58 is asking the question “Have we abdicated this practice of love in looking at our inner self, and to address what is going on in our family, community and the world.?”

    Fasting is for us to enter into ourselves, in order to come out for justice. Fasting calls us to self-denial, to sacrifice our own physical needs in order to focus and look at our lives. Food dominates our lives, I have seen people murdered for food, leaving food behind, let’s us see our inner needs, and the needs of others.

    Jesus sets the example for us in his forty days of fasting which were a time of reflection and decision and how he was going to embody his next steps, looking at his ego, ambitions, and clarifying his call.

     A gentleman walk with me last night and asked the question: “How can we solve homelessness?” My answer is to fast, to look within ourselves, and to see the need for the transformation of society, for each of us to witness to the incoming kingdom through our actions. Isaiah. Jesus, and Mohammed, tell us the solution for each of us to is practice mercy, to feed the homeless, to clothe the naked, to bury the dead, to comfort those who are in pain, to afflict the comfortable.

    It is a long and lonely road to walk outside our comfortable sanctuary and embody the Gospel fully. We are called to be counter-cultural.

    I practice the fasting of Ramadan, meet on zoom in community with six Muslim friends where we share both words from both our sacred books together, and talk of how we are going to witness more in the community.

    Fasting roots us in the One to whom we belong and calls us together in the inner connected body of Christ: Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



Let us take our Bibles and read Isiah 58, Matthew 25:31-46, and reflect upon each word, and ask ourselves how are we living out those words in our lives.

Jesus Heals Our Pains

April 12, 2021

Jesus Heals Our Pains

John 3:1-8

8: “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so it is every one that is born of the Spirit (KJV).


“How are we healed of our wounding memories? We are healed first of all by letting them be available, by letting them out of the corner of forgetfulness, and by remembering them as part of our life stories. What is forgotten is unavailable and what is unavailable cannot be healed.

By lifting our painful forgotten memories out of the egocentric, individualistic, private sphere, Jesus Christ heals our pains. He connects them with the pain of all humanity, a pain he took upon himself and transformed. To heal, then, does not primarily mean to take pains away but to reveal that our pains are part of great pain, that our sorrows are part of great sorrow, that our experience is part of the great experience of him who said, “But was it not ordained that Christ should suffer and so enter into the Glory of God? (Luke 24:26)

Suicide rates are high. Drug use is higher than ever. Youth learning by zoom are having difficulty focusing, and more adolescents are being hospitalized for being suicidal than ever. Youth on the street without the advantage of money, family, and insurance are suffering immensely. And as I talk to young men and women their over all comment is: “No one takes time to listen, they send us to sites on the computer or tell us what to do, they won’t hear our pain.”

This pandemic has resulted in  much emotional pain, pain that is not going away with life going back to “normal.” We can not ignore this pain, or expect our overcrowded mental health system to “fix it.” We all have to be “family” to one another.

The one thing we have learned through the years is found in the words of April Stace: “Spiritual care depends on the ability to join another person in their pain–and if I am unknowingly trapped in my own pain, I can not do my work…Can I learn to listen to my fear, to love it, even instead of trying to banish it from my life?

We have to “be”. To simply “be” with one another. In embracing our pain, in facing it, we learn” that our experience is part of the great experience of him who said, “But was it not ordained that Christ should suffer and so enter into the Glory of God? (Luke 24:26)”

And there is nothing to fear, but fear itself.

May the “wind” blow us into the free spirit of simply “being” with one another. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164