Archive for the ‘religion’ Category

Being Honest

May 21, 2018

BEING HONEST

This week end ended up for me in a way that has been the most embarrassing  in the time I have been in San Francisco. In fact it is the culmination of my experience in the last year. I feel so ashamed.

Saturday night I got so drunk I took a walk in Marin, and was picked up. I do not remember a thing. When I woke up the next morning a Captain came down and told me “There will be no charges, and all records of you being brought in will be deleted.” Privilege once again saved my ass. Well I do not feel privileged any more. I felt ashamed, embarrassed my friends, and I realized for the first time the work ahead, and what I had been looking at in therapy was really real.

For the first time I really faced the trauma of the past year, and admit I need to squarely meet it in the face. In therapy we have talked about the effect of truma, but I could not bring myself to really recognize the pain and destruction it was causing.   I am putting this on Facebook and social media because I want say I really do not give  a damn any more about what “advice” people give me–for each response that is negative, and that is judgmental, and that assumes one know me is painful, and that I have to listen that “still small voice,” that has always lead me home, and I am putting this on social media frankly to come out with the fact that I am far from perfect, and that all of us are far from perfect, we have warts, and it is accepting each other that we find healing for each other.Until we face that fact we are going to be hurt, and hateful, it is in recognizing each other as fellow travelers on the way that we find healing.

Last June when I accepted the responsibility of being chaplain for a young man on trial for murder my “assumption” was that my friends and others would understand I was just doing my job.

But it brought me back to a time in my first parish, on the first week there,where the “town bully” was shot in broad day light in the middle of the street–and no one saw anything, and no one has ever been brought to justice–I was asked to do his funeral because every other pastor in town refused, and I did the funeral. Afterward I provided pastoral care for his widow and children. For the next year and a half in that town I was shunned, threatened , hated by the towns people. I left there broken.

In the same way through old friends walking away, face book, social media, drop in donations, it began with this decision. I was counseled to let “this person go.” I do not let people go when they are in need of pastoral care, period.  Added to that was that was four deaths, one of which witnessed, and another where  I was there soon after, and holding both in my arms. At night I have night mares of the blood. And than the two surgeries, one of which I am still recovering from.

I have felt like I was drowning for along time,  thinking  of running away,and sometimes even suicide of which I know there is no possibility. So I began smoking pot and drinking heavily, to cover the fear and the pain of being alone. People always comment I know a lot of people and have a lot of friends. I am surrounded by people, people like being around me, but they are not friends, I have few friends, and now they are even less. Life has become very lonely.
This incident has made me hellar lonely, hellar afraid, and as my therapists said the first time “you see what we have been talking about, and you can face it.” He also told me: “It is in these times you know who your friends are, and you also know you have a gift for accepting people as they are.”

And so I get up, and I begin a gain.  I trust in Christ who loves me no matter what. What the future will bring, I do not know. whether it is here, I do not know, but what I know is ministry, and is my call, and I am depressed, afraid, scared as hell, wobbly, but I have to look the devil in the eye and and face the pain, I can not run away from this pain. There are no easy answers, but joy will come in the morning, joy will come in the morning. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

415-305-2124

http://www.temenos.org

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Reflecting

May 18, 2018

John 21:15-19–Reflect

Ramadan, the Muslim period of fasting, is a way of identifying with those forgotten in our society who have no food, housing, or support. Our papers are full of articles about the homeless, and our Mayoral campaigns have plans for solutions.

During Ramadan, Muslims fast and pray from sun up to sundown, and remember the marginalized, at night they celebrate with a large meal, and pray. They feed the marginalized.

As we fast, as our stomachs starts to growl, and as we pass by restaurants where we normally eat, we get a sense of what it means to be with out–to not be able to have the money to buy something in order to go the restroom, to be unable to buy something to fill our stomachs.

Let us join the Muslims in this period of fasting, maybe just forego one meal a day,give the money to someone on the street,  and as we go about our daily business, to look at people on the street, and begin to see them just like us–insecure, lonely, afraid of friendship, hungry both externally, and internally, and reach out and walk with them as brothers and sisters. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

Riodamien1@gmail.com

My Bags Are Packed and Ready to Go!

May 13, 2018

My Bags Are Packed And I am Ready to God!

Last night at 11:08 p.m. was the anniversary of my brother’s Stacy’s death. He was taking his driving test  the next day and so we were practicing. He skidded, and Stacy died instantly, and I did not receive a scratch. I remember holding his head in my arms as we waited for am ambulance in the small town I served a church in. He was my life, he was the most important person in my life, and he was gone. His  death have shaped my life in good ways and in bad ways. I still blame myself for letting  him talk me into driving so late. And always on this night I see his face in those moment of holding his head.

A minister friend said to me after the funeral: “You now have a choice you can let his death define you in rigid ways, or let it free you into being who you are supposed to be,” and that is what his death did, freed me into living life in the fullness with out judgment, which I am still growing in. It also brought me into dark areas–that is why I live in the gray areas, nothing is black and white.

That is one of the reason’s that on the anniversary of deaths close friends and relatives of people I know I spend time with them, life moves on, but loss never fully does.

I was at a friend’s last night, thinking I could get through the night without crying, and I knew as the time approached, I was going to start crying. So I left. I am glad I left because I stopped on my way home and cried for an hour or so. Until today I never shared one word with them.

At 3:00 a.m. I received a phone call to come to the hospital where a fifty year old with ALS was dying, and I gave him the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and sat by his bed until 6 a.m. when he died. I saw a body ravaged by illness, ravaged to complete destruction. He has no family, his family rejected him because he was gay.

This morning I preached at a church in a fog, with much heaviness hanging over me.

Life is not fair. Scott Peck tells us that when we realize that life is difficult, than we can find enjoyment—life is difficult.

Right now I sit here and feel totally alone, for I feel like I fail with people, especially those I am the closest too, and I do the best that I can, but I feel like I fail.  I have a bag, ready to walk out and just go. Each day I struggle, and each day, I say the Apostle’s Creed and keep on tracking.

But what I do know is that I am good with sitting with people in their suffering, pain, fear, loneliness, and dying, listen, and be present to them.

  Memorial Service for Robert (Bob Reid)

Fern Alley, 1:00 p.m., Monday, May 14, 2018

The Call To Worship:

Affirmation of Faith: (Unison)

“I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the Virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died and was buried;

he descended to the dead.

On the third day he rose again, he ascended into heaven,

is seated at the right hand of the Father,

and will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic Church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life ever lasting. Amen.”

Call to Prayer, Pastoral Prayer, The Lord’s Prayer

Reading of the Holy Scripture: Psalm 23, Selected from John

Remembering Bob—Any one is invited to Share

Prayers

Benediction

Fr. River Damien Sims. D.Min.

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

 

The Street of Broken Dreams

May 9, 2018
The Boulevard of Broken Dreams–Green Day
I walk a lonely road
The only one that I have ever known
Don’t know where it goes
But it’s only me, and I walk alone
I walk this empty street
On the boulevard of broken dreams
Where the city sleeps
And I’m the only one, and I walk alone
I walk alone, I walk alone
I walk alone and I walk a
My shadow’s the only one that walks beside me
My shallow heart’s the only thing that’s beating
Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me
Till then I walk alone
Ah ah ah ah ah
Ah ah ah ah ah
I’m walking down the line
That divides me somewhere in my mind
On the border line of the edge
And where I walk alone
Read between the lines
What’s fucked up and every thing’s all right
Check my vital signs to know I’m still alive
And I walk alone
I walk alone, I walk alone
I walk alone and I walk a
My shadow’s the only one that walks beside me
My shallow heart’s the only thing that’s beating
Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me
Till then I walk alone
Ah ah ah ah ah
Ah ah ah ah ah
I walk alone, I walk a
I walk this empty street
On the boulevard of broken dreams
Where the city sleeps
And I’m the only one, and I walk alone
My shadow’s the only one that walks beside me
My shallow heart’s the only thing that’s beating
Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me
Till then I walk alone

————————————————————————————————

Last night I came home from visiting a friend in Marin around 3:30 a.m. As I walked towards home from parking the car people started coming from no-where. They simply wanted to talk, and be heard.  On the “street of broken dreams”, there is no one, people are alone, they are fragmented, afraid, and simply feel life has no meaning. Walk these streets after the bars are closed, on Thanksgiving and Christmas, and on rainy nights, and you will feel the pain of the “street of broken dreams.”

A recent study concluded that there were three reasons that people lived into old age in a healthy manner, all three having to do nothing with food, diet, or  exercise.  Two were having people you can hang out with, have fun with, and who will loan you money if you need it, the top was chatting with people in daily life, and the third:

“Having people to sit with you in the existential moments of life.” To have some one with you at those times when the veil is thin between life and death, between total loneliness, and ,  when life seems to have no meaning, and you seem worthless. In the past few months I have had people with me on my journey with this surgery, they gave me hope, meaning, and when people seemed to walk a way they stood with me. One of them says to me when I thank him, “No problem”, and he has no idea how he was there when the world seemed to walk out. I remember the look in his eyes as he visited me when three days after the surgery, and I was in so much pain–a look of care, of love, that still haunts me in its realness.  What we do always has meaning–whether we know it or not.

One of our mayoral candidates talks of “having tough love” with the homeless. I believe that if we walk with people in their “existential moments” that individuals can see life has meaning, and that in being held in love,despite  themselves, we see our worthiness, and from that lives are transformed. When I was a whore on the streets of LA, at my lowest point, my friend River reminded me each day that I was worthy, how much I helped him, and what I had to offer by going back into ministry.  He stood with me in my “existential moments of life,” and my friends these past months have done the same thing.

Homelessness is not going away–but what each one of us can do is to walk out of our doors and show care by listening to people in their “existential moments”,  move out of ourselves, move away from social media, and touch the lives of people, not just one time , but each and every day, and change will come in them, but more importantly in you. Find one person, and become his or her friend in the “existential moments!”  Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

415-305-2124

http://www.temenos.org

Temenos Catholic Worker

Queer Stations of the Cross

March 27, 2018

QUEER STATIONS OF THE CROSS
STRUGGLE FOR EQUALITY

BEGIN AT THE RAINBOW FLAG
AT MARKET AND CASTRO
1:00 P.M. –GOOD FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2018

MARCH THROUGH THE CASTRO AND REMEMBER  CHRIST’S CRUCIFIXION  IN LGBTQ, HOMELESS, AND ALL WHO ARE QUEER

To Volunteer call Fr. River 415-305-2124

———————————————————————————————————————————————————-

As people have commented that the Stations will not be the same in the  Castro as in the Tenderloin, I am reminded of how we all put blinders on our eyes to cover up the reality around us. We look for the easy answers, we look for solutions when in reality there are no solutions.

All of the plans of our Mayoral candidates are repeats of plans through the years. The truth is we can measure our worth in our dedication to the path, not by our successes or our failures. It is in the steady work of day to day that we find hope and promise.  People often asked me to share my success stories, and as I look at the ones who have gotten off the street I see people who suffer the difficulty of mental illness, of their constant struggle with PTSD, and all that comes with living on the streets–is that success?

In the Castro there are people sleeping on the street, and are not seen because of our blinders, we walk by, there are people suffering from discrimination that spreads across this country and the world.

So come join us, let us take the blinders off our eyes, and see the daily crucifixion of Christ in our midst. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

River Sims, D.Min.

 

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

Temenos Catholic Worker
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, California 94164-2656
415-305-2124

An Outsider

March 26, 2018

An Outsider

I was told when I first came here so many years ago, that doing this alone I would not last. Well I have lasted, for you see what people never, never, never understand is what I do is being a pastor to people. It is not a community of people doing activism and serving food, but being a pastor, which means you walk alone in that role. I have been criticized, and made fun of, and it has been painful. But that is what this is about to be a pastor.

I am an outsider, one who walks a different path, one who lives outside the cultural bounds–who expects all of us to be family, who expects each of us to stand with one another, and to take care of one another outside of our tribes, and who calls into question the materialism that is destroying society.

I have had recent threats on my life, and people say, “You just feed people,”  well even feeding people can be dangerous in this society that says “fu..k you to the homeless; but I do more than that, I walk with them as a friend, advocate for them, and I work  against johns, child traffickers, among the many who terrorize and destroy people; I am called all sorts of names, to the point even when my friends kid me I cry.

I am at the point now where I feel I really have no friends; and most people expect so much from me, so much,  and it is painful. These past months have been painful with illness, and people just walking away. I have had basically two 18 year old’s stand by me, and I have never understood why, I fight with them, push them away.

I believe in the Jesus, who walked Galilee, and was crucified for doing justice, but the resurrection, is a myth, that offers hope, and is used to justify enslaving people by promising a “future life,” without responsibility for this life. The resurrection is the hope that Christ can bring new life here on earth, and the rest is on faith.

After this Good Friday Service, frankly, I am done, and what that means, I have no idea. I am tired of the fight, tired of the struggle, and always having to explain myself. I say loud and clear I have done my best, but as I am told, I am a “fu..k up” repeatedly, so be it.

But what I offer is for each of us to look at ourselves and asked the question–How do I  care for people, and by caring I mean walking with them in person, suffering with them, and getting outside of my tribes?

The world is falling to pieces, people are suffering on the streets, and all around the world–what are you going to do? I may be  done, but are not?

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

http://www.temenos.org

Queer Stations of the Cross

March 22, 2018

JOURNAL OF AN ALIEN STREET PRIEST
Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

In the Passion in the book of John we have Jesus saying, “It is me!”

Today he stands as a person of contradiction waiting to be recognized. A contradiction in that he does not judge us, but recognizes that we judge ourselves in how we love one another. I was asked last night by a young friend, “What do you think the greatest sin is?” And my answer is that of Jesus, “Not loving our neighbor.”

Do we recognize the voice of Jesus in the accent of the panhandler, in the person on the street corner  begging for food, or the person who is in jail? Do we recognize Jesus in our next door neighbor who struggles with loneliness?

Matthew’s Jesus is very clear: the measure which we respond to the anawim, the poor and needy (positively and negatively) is the measure that will be used to judge the quality of our discipleship (25:31-46).

“Many came to believe in him”, but some did not; Jesus was a sign of contradiction, his voice unrecognized by some.  The days ahead offer a perfect opportunity to listen for his call: “It’s me!”, the words now coming in so many different accents and on so many unlikely lips.

As we plan for our “Queer Stations of the Cross,” which will be in the Castro this year, people have said, “It want be the same taking it out of the place where the poor live.”

As I walk through the Castro I see homelessness  in every corner. People sleeping in door ways, the Bart Station, behind businesses, and a majority are youth; In the Castro I see the people who are in poverty trying to survive living in apartments with multiple people; in the Castro I see refugees from other parts of our country who come to San Francisco because of persecution in their states for being LGBTQ.

Good Friday gives us the opportunity to witness to the presence of  Jesus the Contradiction, in being a contradiction ourselves, and to his presence in the midst of the poverty in places we fail to look. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!
—————————————————————-

QUEER STATIONS OF THE CROSS
STRUGGLE FOR EQUALITY

BEGIN AT THE RAINBOW FLAG
AT MARKET AND CASTRO
1:00 P.M. –GOOD FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2018

MARCH THROUGH THE CASTRO AND REMEMBER  CHRIST’S CRUCIFIXION  IN LGBTQ, HOMELESS, AND ALL WHO ARE QUEER

To Volunteer call Fr. River 415-305-2124

———————————————————————————————————————————————————-

WE ARE BEGGARS!

We are beggars for our support which feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, visits those in prison, comforts the dying, and is a presence to any one who comes to us.

Our finances are down, and so if you can give please give through:

Pay Pal found at http://www.temenos.org

or through your check:

Fr. River Sims, D.Min., D.S.T.
Temenos Catholic Worker
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, California 94164-2656

Being an Outsider

March 16, 2018

Being an Outsider

Today I met with my doctor and she told me that she went to a citizens meeting, where the main topic was me. Her conclusion was they were transferring their visible anger towards homelessness on the one person who is visible and sides with homeless youth-me. She reflected now how she understood more fully the stress that I was under, and the threats that come regularly. She said “Your faith is strong, you are strong, and you will probably get through this, but I worry about your loneliness, your isolation, and being an outsider, you are insightful into all of this, and you know the risks, so all I can offer is my support.”

She is right, I do feel like an outsider, very much so. I feel very much alone,  I fight my doubts, and there are nights I do not sleep.l  One person who had promised to pay for a trip for me backed out, and now does not talk to me, others have simply walked away. The City is struggling with homelessness, and unless you have an answer,or support the traditional programs–you are out. I am crying a lot simply because it has built up over the last year, and now I am letting it out.

Last night late I sat with a 19 year old who left a small town to live in

“gay friendly” San Francisco, and instead he has found homelessness, sex for housing and for money, little support from social services, and he was crying and afraid. He feels very much alone, and scared. I had talked to his parents and they do not want anything to do with a “gay son”.  I listened, I fed him, got him a hotel room. That is all I can do, and it depresses me, because this kid from a well to do family will be so violated on the streets he will not be the same. And the City, all of us, stand by and twirl our fingers.

I know I have few people who are real friends-only two I trust, and I doubt them– and to say I am not afraid would be a lie–but what I believe is that until each of us walk with people where they are there will be no changes.

As for me I will stay the course, I will finish the course, and I will face God with the knowledge I have done my best, and when you point your finger, remember four are pointing back at you. Stop judging–get busy–feed someone. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

http://www.temenos.org

In Memory of Daniel Condor

March 12, 2018

Daniel Conder

1982-2018

John 3:14-21

Dan was found dead in Colorado last week. We have known Dan since he was 28 years old. We met on Polk. Dan was hooked on speed, and other drugs, and as we came to know him we found him to be a caring and loving individual.

He was born into a well to do family, whose expectations he found difficult to meet, due to a learning disability, and due to the reality he had other expectations for himself. He became hooked on speed, and found himself on the street, after serving a brief time in the military.

Dan and I had a conversation the last time I saw him in the Haight 2 years ago. He talked about feeling like a failure, only feeling happy on drugs, and the expectations that people have on him, he felt extremely judged. I offered a prayer, bought him a meal, and hugged him.

God loved the world. This is my faith. Central to my faith is the figure of Jesus, lifted on the cross, knowing what it was to be devastated and a”failure” yet offering himself in love for us.

That is the call of Jesus–to be failures, yet offering ourselves in love for others.  To be a success means to “save” people in our images–and that ends up hurting people and ourselves.

A Memorial Service will be planned for next month.
Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

 

Into the Maze

March 6, 2018

Into the Maze

In Dante’s “Infernal” he talked of different places in hell, and frankly I do not know where I am, but I am in a maze, and in hell.  Whether I find my way out of this maze is in question, if I do my life will be given more fully in service. Today I received an email (how personal), from a former long time friend, who was my best friend, and donor. She named all of my “sins”–too generous, treat youth as equals, do not adhere to the boundaries, and make people feel uncomfortable,among so many more, they are unlimited, and I replied, “Remember there are four fingers pointing at you, as well, and when you want to become a donor or friend again than I will listen, so after over a year, please leave me alone, and if you want to vent your anger than face me in person.

What I believe brought this lovely email to my attention was the fact someone saw me at a barbecue at China State Beach yesterday, a barbecue of ten young adults, who go to  school in Marin. Well I was there, and it was a good time, talking, hanging out, and no judgment. They are my friends, and I hang out with them. My best friends are younger than me–I do not see their age, they walked through hell with me these past months, and I will go to hell and back for them–they were there. They are my friends period. And frankly these  two people I trust completely, I trust them more than I have ever trusted anyone.

My therapist is an awesome guy, but the reality is I am not sure I am going to see him much longer, because I frankly put on a show, because when I get honest, he gets scared. One of the reasons psychiatrists refer teenagers to me is I am not afraid, but will sit with them, and listen without worrying about my reputation, I treat them as equals. You have to let go of your own fears and let people enter your life. You have be willing to risk your own life, to serve.  I see my life as a piece of wood that is scarred, and as my life is cut into those scars are shaped into beauty in God’s eyes.  The wood becomes a beautiful piece of art.

A friend gave me a quote as a fifteen year old, which I had forgotten about until this week, and it has kept coming back to me: “There is no valor in compromise,” and I will not compromise on my faith in a God who is all inclusive, and who accepts everyone for who they are, and calls each of us to do the same, giving of our own wealth until everyone is housed, fed, clothed, visited, and accepted. We must all of us give until that suffering ends. I will not compromise on my absolute vow of confidentiality. I will not compromise on my friendship with street people, I accept them as equals. I will not compromise in my belief that it does not matter if you believe in God or not, but it is in the way you treat others. Frankly I have maybe three Christian friends these days.

We live in our tribes, and I have no tribe. So frankly I am angry, angry at people writing emails and face book telling me how to live my life, when you do not know me, and you sit in judgment. I am angry when people put me in a black and white mode, and than when I do not fit in sit in judgment-I will never fit in, I am different, and it is that difference that for the past years has made me who I am and has walked with people no one wants to walk with. And I am done apologizing, period. So whether or not I live or die, which is up in the air, I will always accept you for who you are, but if you choose to sit in judgment-than do not approach me. I will tell you to go to hell. I am done. There are no black and white answers–period.

I walk in a maze, of hell, and whether or not I make it through what I know is that I will walk into the hands of the God who has loved me since my mother’s womb, called me to ministry, walked with me through ordination, rejection and called me to service, and will not be judged. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sim, D.Min.

P.O. Box 6426546

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org