My Rock!

“The Rock”

“My flesh and my heart fail: The rock of my heart and my portion is God (Ps. 73)

“The soul is

the rock upon which the integrity of our heart stands (Rabbi Matthew Millbrim).


    On a number of occasions, and always by older people, the question is raised, “What are you going to do when you are too old to do this work?” “When are you going to retire?  Psalm 32:7 comes to mind, “You are my hiding place, you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.”

    The Hebrews were nomadic people, they had no place to call home. and we are told in Scripture that we too are nomads, our only home is God. We are called to follow Christ and serve him; he is our Refuge, our Rock, our Home.

    Late one night when someone had threatened me, Sean a young hustler, said to me, “You must have done something really wrong, to hang out and take care of us, no one else gives a f. ck as you do.” In many ways my young friend was correct, I was overcome with guilt over my sexuality, my life on the street, and my deceit with my early religious denomination, guilt overwhelmed and crushed me. And then there was Zach.

    It was in my journey with Zach, that I began to see God as my “Place”, my “Refuge” and as “Pure Love”–only giving, never expecting anything in return. Zach was my son, from a relationship with a  girl in my teens, adopted at birth. I had him traced down, and found him here on Polk.

    Zach was fourteen when I first met him, a crazy kid, running away from home, at thirteen, into speed, and hustling for money. Struggles with his adopted parents, and questioning his sexuality led him to Polk Street.

    Zach was a charmer, a manipulator, and we became friends, and I found him funny, and in a lot of emotional pain.

    A favorite story is of him coming by my place around noon one day. As I worked he laid down on the floor, went to sleep, and for two days I pulled him out of my way. He could not be awakened he was so tired. When he awoke he took a shower and starved we went out to eat.

    Zach traveled to Portland, and one evening late the Portland police called, to inform me Zach had been murdered. That began a new journey for me. I went into a deep depression with so much hatred for the man who murdered him.

    On a rainy, foggy night a nurse from San Francisco General Hospital called and told me of a request for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

    I walked into the man[‘s room, and gasped, for this was the person suspected of murdering Zach, and who had attempted to kill me several years earlier.

    I moved into the room, boiling with hatred, and observing a broken man dying of AIDS, a skeleton of himself, and in so much pain. His suffering was so visible.

    Dave looked at me and started crying, and asked me to hear his confession, and pray. What started out being my job as a priest, turned into my own heart melting, and seeing him for who he was. A broken human being, and the child of Christ, the force of Pure Love. In those moments the presence of God surrounded us, and we both found the grace of Christ.

    My journey is following Christ, and each day taking up my bow and shoot the arrow at the target of practicing pure love, failing, getting up, and trying again.

“The soul is

the rock upon which the integrity of our heart stands!”

(Rabbi Matthew Millbrim). 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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