Archive for February, 2022

Soak Me In Your Laundry

February 27, 2022

“Soak Me In Your Laundry!”

Ash Wednesday

“Soak me in your laundry, and I’ll come out clean, scrub me, and I have a snow-white life.” Psalm 51:7

“As fruit trees need pruning, so people’s words need censoring. . .opinions reveal values.” Sirach 27: 15

The bracelet above symbolizes the meaning of Lent. It was created by Ms. Cindy Reinert and young men in Juvenile Hall in Portland, Oregon,  where she works. These young men are not perfect little angels, and in creating the bracelets, come into contact with love, and caring from Cindy, and thus the love of Jesus. We will have them for our guys on the street, and for you, if you so desire, simply email or call.

These bracelets symbolize Lent is a never-ending journey, involving our whole life, our entire being. It is a time to reconsider the path we are taking, to find the route that leads us home, and to rediscover our profound relationship with God. The core of Lent is not about little sacrifices, but about our relationship with the living God asking the question–where is our navigation system taking us–towards God in service of others or towards self?

On this Ash Wednesday let us remind ourselves that we mark ourselves with ashes as a new beginning, allowing the life and sacrifice of Jesus to create within us a new person. Hearing the words, “You are dust and to dust, you shall return”, reminds us that we are simply creatures that will die, and our hope remains in God.

Ash Wednesday is a time to remember that we carry secret burdens within ourselves.

Burdens we never share, and we act out on those burdens, sometimes in ways that hurt others. These burdens often result in severe consequences. Thus we are called to walk as wounded healers with our brothers and sisters.

On the street, I look into the eyes of people, young and old, who carry many burdens, and all I can see is another child of God, whom we are called to love without expectation.  To give them food, socks, and listen without judgment.  We simply meet each person at the moment.

I look into the eyes of young men who have committed atrocious crimes and only see young guys simply in need of someone to journey; with them at the moment, without judgment.  They carry heavy burdens that will result in severe punishment.

Each of us carries burdens so let us this Lent let God “scrub us clean in his laundry,” and to truly fast for Lent:


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Mantram of Unification

The sons of men are One and I am One with them.

I seek to love not hate,

I seek to serve and not exact due service,

I seek to heal, not hurt.

Let pain bring due reward of Light and Love.

Let the Soul control the outer form,
and life and all events

And bring to light the Love that
underlies the happenings of the time.

Let vision come, and insight.

Let the future stand revealed.

Let inner union demonstrate
and outer cleavages be gone.

Let Love Prevail.

Let All Kind Love.

March Peniel

February 23, 2022


“”Where Jacob Wrestled with God and Survived..!”

March, 2022 Newsletter of Temenos Catholic Worker


Journal of An Alien Street Priest:

Ash Wednesday, March 2, 2022, will be a day of remembering our mortality, with the imposition of ashes on our foreheads, and hearing the words:

“Human,  you are dust, and to dust, you shall return!”

As I move up and down Polk and Haight Streets, wearing a Franciscan habit, a few will welcome me with open arms, the majority will simply ignore my presence, and there will be a few who will cuss, scream, and spit upon me. I represent the Church in those moments.

Many feel the Church, Christianity in general, has been oppressive, and destructive. They have been hurt by the Church either in person or through  neglect.

Dorothy Day tells us: The Church is both a whore, and our Holy Mother.”  Through the centuries the Church has murdered people, neglected, and ruled them with an iron fist. In recent times we hear of sexual abuse, neglect of the poor and homeless, and simply being abusive to segments of our population. On the other hand, as our Mother, the Church has nurtured and cared for humanity through the centuries.

Personally, I have experienced her in both forms. Growing up my home church was extremely racist, and yet I experienced the Holy Mother in nurturing and caring for me spiritually. She educated and brought me into ministry, a vocation that is who I am, and the dearest of all callings.

Like the whore she kicked me out on the streets for being queer. And as the Holy Mother, she brought me back into ministry, bringing me to wholeness.

You see the Church is made up of broken human beings, and in the middle of the brokenness is Jesus, the Crucified One, always seeking to bring her into the reign of justice. It is a continual struggle working with us to create a place of welcome, and equality. We are continually striving for perfection.

The ashes are a symbol of our fragileness, our mortality, our brokenness, and a reminder that as we are marked with ashes, we are given a “new beginning”, allowing the Crucified One to create us into new beings.

“Human you are dust, and to dust, you will return!”

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!



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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, 94164



February 21, 2022


Luke 6:27-38

Through the past two years seeing so much pain, fear, and death; each day as I walk out my door and talk to people I know and love sleeping and living on the street, I weep, a lot. My heart breaks open, and in the weeping, I am pushed into working my ass off to ease their pain and driven to prayer.

We are dust and to dust, we shall return. We leave our small mark in our work, but for the most part, it soon will be erased, about as soon as these words will be forgotten; I will feed someone, and spend time listening, and it soon will turn into dust.

But our work matters. Be it drudgery or joy for in doing it well the work adds to the truth and goodness in the world. Our work pushes back the darkness. Our work weaves us together, for we are all vulnerable and dependent on one another. I know nothing about cars, Bob my mechanic repairs my van, without him I could not drive.

Leslie Warren writes that not only our bodies but our work, as well will be raised up on the last day:

“All the faithful labor of God’s servants which time seems to have buried in the dust as failure will be raised up, and found to be transfigured in the New Kingdom.”

We take up our work knowing that through its practice,  we participate in the eternal work of God.

The practice of prayer becomes a compulsive force binding our participation in God’s work.

The Christian story dares us to believe that the work of prayer is not so far away from the gift of working in the sewer. Prayer pushes us into knowing that all work is holy.

Along with prayer and work, we are given the gift of weeping. The gift of weeping pushes me to seek to ease the pain on the streets and in the alleys. The gift of weeping is a force that propels me to listen to people in their pain.

The gifts of work, prayer, and weeping tie us together into hearing the words of Jesus, and to practice them:

Gospel Lk 6:27-38

Jesus said to his disciples:
“To you who hear I say,
love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
To the person who strikes you on one cheek,
offer the other one as well,
and from the person who takes your cloak,
do not withhold even your tunic.
Give to everyone who asks of you,
and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
For if you love those who love you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who do good to you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners do the same.
If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners lend to sinners,
and get back the same amount.
But rather, love your enemies and do good to them,
and lend expecting nothing back;
then your reward will be great
and you will be children of the Most High,
for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

“Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give, and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

snap chat: riodamien2


February 14, 2022

Being Dumbstruck!

Luke 6:17-26

On a grey Monday morning my third year of seminary, soon after the death of a thirteen-year-old in my parish, a  professor Walt in chapel preached commented in his meditation: “You can not trust God to keep bad things from happening to you. ” I was dumbstruck.

What he meant was bad things happen all the time, and God will not always intervene–God never made that promise.

Through the years I have learned to trust in the Jesus Story. For God in Jesus entered the world to understand and to look at his way in dealing with us, and was overwhelmed in his love for us. Jesus suffered, beaten, crucified, and rose. He continues to walk with us, through all the difficulties of our lives. I trust in Jesus!

I was once called a chameleon in a negative way. But the truth is I am a chameleon, I change into different colors in walking with people, letting them enter into my life, and me in theirs.

I hung with a wealthy attorney on Thursday for lunch and listened to as he shared his story; last night with Sean, an 18-year-old, who sells “mollie” and weed; in each color, I listen without judgment or putting my values on them, and I hear the same fears, and pain in each person.

I am a chameleon and I cry a lot. I cry for the pain seen on every street corner, the pain seen all around, of the world, and in every person, I interact with.

I am dumbstruck! And I try centering on Jesus who is walking with me and you, whether we feel or hear him or not! Jesus is our peace, our hope! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



February 12, 2022


Then Yeshua came down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of His disciples and a multitude of people, from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon,

18had come to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases. Even those disturbed by defiling spirits were being healed.

19Everyone in the crowd was trying to touch Him, because power flowed from Him and He was healing them all.

20And looking up at His disciples, He said, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

21Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

22Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and spurn your name as evil on account of the Son of Man.

23Rejoice in that day and jump for joy! For behold, your reward is great in heaven! For their fathers used to treat the prophets the same way.”

24But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.

25Woe to you who are full, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who are laughing now, for you shall mourn and weep.

26Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets the same way.


The theologian Karl Rahner, SJ was once asked whether he believed in miracles. His answer, ‘I don’t believe in them, I rely on them to get through each day.’

Miracles are always present within our lives, ones of birth, love, and hope. Miracles of people letting go of hurt, hate, resentment, and giving forgiveness. A miracle is not always against nature–it is something that causes faith and love.

    People ask me “How have you done this work for so long, and not burned out?” The answer is simple–the little miracles that come my way.

    The miracle of my friend Matthew coming into the City and taking me out to dinner on Friday night; the miracle of seeing a young woman, acting out in her mental illness, becoming calm as we spoke; the miracle in sharing with a young person last night, overcome with her fear of a judgmental God, the amazing grace of God’s love and forgiveness; the miracle of having compassion, when there is little compassion around us (Mark 8:1-10); the miracle of continuing to see each person as a child of the living God. It is difficult constantly being criticized, hated, spit upon, but the little miracles overshadow all with God’s goodness and bring purpose and meaning.

    Our reading of the Beatitudes on Sunday is the center of our miracles, the center of seeing goodness in others.

    Happy are unhappy, Jesus seems to be saying!  What can he mean? ‘Blessed’ is the condition of being righteous before God, of living as one should before God. The poor are not only those who are economically poor but include those who have been marginalized in any way in society. They are blessed because God is on their side, as opposed to the ‘rich’ who often hold them in contempt and oppose them. Jesus is appealing for love and respect for all those who are outside one’s social milieu. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Call Up Samual!

February 7, 2022

Call Up Samual!

I Samual 28:7-13 “Behold there was a woman in Endor, a medium. So Saul disguised himself. .and asked: “Please conjure up for me a ghost..Call up Samual. .”


My very first sermon was based on this passage, I preached at Grace United Methodist Church, in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, my parents beamed with such pride.

So many years later as I sat with my friend Matthew,  as we both always do after we eat, sitting for several hours, Matt was viewing the internet on his phone, me reading, or today just looking out at the hills at BJ’s, North Gate Mall, Marin, my feelings were sadness and my mind viewed the years. There was a sense o foreboding, sadness. Ghosts were fluttering around me.

North Gate is soon to be torn down, malls are now in the past, new housing built, and all left will be my memories of hanging out with kids, many long gone, being present, listening. I have witnessed and experienced, much joy and pain, hanging out at  North Gate. The ghosts of North Gate hang around me.

I now transitioned to Polk Street, twenty-plus years ago, and view my ministry. There are so many ghosts both then and now.

I have viewed so much pain, and death, hundreds of young men and women. Walked with them, held their hands as they died, and buried them. Now on the gentrified street are countless older homeless individuals, suffering from neglect, homelessness, hunger, and lack of caring. People walk by as if they do not exist. The ghosts, hover around me. They hover and bring much darkness and pain.

And finally, we go to Haight Street, with young men and women, who basically smoke pot, LSD, etc. Why are they there, all sorts of reasons, family problems, sexuality, or simply choose to live the life. There is so much tragedy, being beaten, abused, and murdered. So many nights called out to be with someone hurt or dead; so many have I  taken to the hospital and sat for hours in the emergency room waiting. The ghosts move around BJ’s laughing at me.

I am reminded of being told many years ago, “You have been given a gift of letting people into your life, to truly enter in and feel at home, and you in theirs, and if you choose to use it, will bring you much pain and even more joy;” over my desk, there is a smalldrawingof a character worn out, with a red heart in his center, with the title, “counselor”, sent years ago, reminding me of the pain, and joy experienced every day.

Now I simply live in the moment, I walk with a cane, pulling a wagon; my bones hurt; and I remember the words of an anonymous author: The smallest deed is better than the greatest intention,” and so hear the voice of Dorothy Day saying, “I will continue to try.”

The ghosts that surround me are always dispelled when I call up Jesus, whose radiance is that of life, found in caring and loving.

Call up Jesus, giving our lives in love, being his presence! Kindle your heart, no matter what or who you believe in! Go out and give of your time and money to the Joe’s, and the Sharon’s who sleep on the street corners, who are cold, sick, and scared.! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


A Book Review of Common Spaces Between Us

Nurturing the Good in the Midst of Differences


Melynne Rust

Polarization occurring in the United States today is not only a social concern, it is also a spiritual condition of the heart. How can we connect with each other in the midst of our differences, when deep in our hearts we might harbor shadows, which brings judgment and fear.

Rust explores that question in her book. She takes the readers to a diverse college campus where she served as chaplain and gives us short stories of how her ministry was practiced in a pluralistic manner.

She worked with fundamentalists, Muslims, atheists, and doubters.

Rust shared her fears, and yet she pushed ahead, and discovered that “spiritual referred to that part of us–our spirit-that seeks connection, meaning and purpose. .and that the Eucharist is “an experienced of the ordinary.”

Melynne ultimately discovered that true connectedness and spirituality occur when we embody practices that recognize honor, and nurture the good–in both ourselves and others in the common spaces between us.


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

Snap Chat: riodamien2


he Emptied Christ of the Philippians

February 5, 2022

A Book Review

The Emptied Christ of the Philippians

Mahayana Meditations

by John Keenan

“He emptied himself. (Philippians 2:7).

Before the gospels were written, long before the creeds of the Church hammered out, Christ followers in Philippi sang a hymn of the Christ who “although he was in the form of God. .emptied himself taking the form  of a slave being born as are all humans.” 

A problem arose when this “emptied Christ” did not fit neatly into later theologies of the church, shaped by Greek thought concerned with being and essence.

In Philippians, Paul struggles, stumbling over his own awkward words to express his hope, his eschatological faith, that he might, “gain Christ and be found in him. . .and participate in his sufferings by being conformed to his death, if in some way I may reach to what goes beyond the resurrection from the dead.”

This book seeks to move us out of a less empirical world of thought than our western heritage offers, into the thinking of Mahayana Buddhism, guiding us towards an awareness of a truth in the Christian faith that is more profound than anything reducible to historical “facts” or even to human language.

The Mahayana Buddhist theology calls its followers to live in the present, the now, there is nothing else.

The heart of this book can be found in Philippians 2:7: “He Emptied Himself.” For in that verse we find the theme of Christian theology: we are called to practice the sacrament of service and not be concerned over the past or worry about the future and live a life of unconditional love.

Through emptying ourselves we see that the world in which our lives are in constant search of money, of a better life, is futile, for our lives move towards death, and we suffer throughout life. Emptying ourselves we grasp this suffering and gain that in letting go of ourselves and serving others we find meaning and purpose.

I look back through the years and find my life was about gaining a reputation (which flows up one minute and down), material security, and being loved. All of which is futile. Only in service, of working at emptying my life have I found hope

and peace.

In Philippians 2:13, Paul calls us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling,” meaning to work at emptying ourselves, to the service of others.

Walk the streets and you will find the result of our centering on ourselves, striving to gain “better life,” and look within yourself, and ask yourself the question, do I look away from those on the street because each person we see calls to our own fear of suffering. 

Paul calls us to look at others, see we all suffer, and empty our lives in service. Deo ‘Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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

P.O. Box 64656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Snap chat: riodamien2