Archive for the ‘religion’ Category

Letting Go

July 14, 2020

LETTING GO!

“Jesus began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented. . .” Matthew 11:20-24

“Emotional exhaustion follows fast on the footsteps of physical and mental depletion. I feel my lifeblood draining away in an oily spigot of inner turmoil. Questions abound and personal survival hinges upon sorting through possible solutions and selecting the most fitting answers. Is my pain real or simply an illusion of a frustrated ego? What do I believe in? What is my purpose? I aspire to discover a means to live in congruence with the trinity of the mind, body, and spirit. Can I discover a noble path that frees me from the shallowness of decadent physical and emotional desires? Can I surrender any desire to seek fame and fortune? Can I terminate a craving to punish other persons for their perceived wrongs? Can I recognize that forgiving persons whom offended me is a self-initiated, transformative act? Can I conquer an irrational fear of the future? Can I accept the inevitable chaos that accompanies life? Can I find a means to achieve inner harmony by steadfastly resolving to live in the moment free of angst? Can I purge egotisms that mar an equitable perception of life by renunciation of the self and all worldly endeavors? Can I live a harmonious existence devoid the panache of vanities?”
― Kilroy J. Oldster,
Dead Toad Scrolls

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    It sounds like Jesus was on the edge of burn out in the our lectionary reading for today. He had spent three years preaching, teaching, and healing, and to what end?

    As Jesus reflected on the past where God had sent all of the prophets to call people back to wholeness,  there was one result, failure. Jesus was experiencing  emotional burnout.

    And then as Jesus moved into the remainder of his ministry, and finally entered into his passion  he had to let go, simply let go, be present, listen, and let God be in control.

    In our very midst people are suffering immensely, they are scared to death. We can fight by ignoring the situation, or being angry, resentful, or   simply letting go and  embrace our present situation, and take care of one another, whether we are six feet a part, or simply on the phone.

    The Supreme Court has just open the way for federal executions, people are afraid and suffering on our streets, our hospitals, and in our homes.

    My choice, and believe me, I am working at it and failing every day is to take Oldster’s comments into my heart, and to remember the story of the two knights who every morning arise from sleep eat an excellent breakfast, and then go into battle together. When one loses they shake each other’s hands, eat dinner, and say, “We will fight again tomorrow brother, may the best man find victory, and sit down around a campfire, and enjoy each other’s company.”

    Let us put aside our hatreds, prejudices and biases, and see one another as brothers and sisters, and each day fight our fights, but shake hands, and go to bed in peace. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

Seeing Beyond the Shadows

July 13, 2020

Seeing Beyond the Shadows!

Joshua 2:1: “Then Joshua, son of Nun, sent two men secretly from Shittan as spies, saying, “God, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went, and entered the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab, and spent the night there.”

    Rhab was a prostitute–the lowest of the lowest in society–and yet in her concern for her family and compassion for strangers she is compelled to take action for the safety of those she knows. Matthew recounts her among the ancestors of Jesus.

    Rhab story reminds all of us that we have the capacity for goodness. She reminds us to see others as FULL people–out of the shadows, worthy of dignity, not measured by whether or not society sees them as such.

    We received a call at 2 a.m. last night, a 19 year old had no food, his blanket was stolen, and he was afraid. This 19 year old has cursed me, called me every name in the book–simply because of his own abuse by a priest. Last night he came out of the shadows in his need and allowed himself to see me and I him  as FULL PEOPLE.

    Dorothy Day once said, “we live in a dirty rotten system,” and “We need a revolution of the heart.”

    The greatest blessing of my life has been being a prostitute, living on the streets, because I came to see the way in which the those on the bottom of society were treated. We became a part of that bottom–and we are well aware we walk on the edge of becoming a part of that bottom again.

    We lose our  housing, become ill either physically or mentally, we become a part of the nameless homeless. People simply walk away. I have seen that a thousand times. None of us are immune to that possibility.

    We take no political sides, we see all sides as children of God, regardless of belief, race, creed, color, and sexual orientation.

    For as we look around us we see thousands without food, medical care, housing, and the division of our society, enforces those problems.

    So we will not argue politics until all are fed, clothed, and housed, and it will take a village to do that, a village of which we are all a part of. A village that puts aside its divisions and sees all people regardless of race, creed, color etc, as deserving of the right to live full lives. A village that works together, despite its differences for the welfare of all.

    Fr. Henri Nouwen gives a description of his experience, not as good as Rahab’s, whose experience outweighs Henri’s”

Creative Reciprocity
“We who want to bring about change have first of all to learn to be changed by those whom we want to help. This, of course, is exceptionally difficult for those who are undergoing their first exposure to an area of distress. They see poor houses, hungry people, dirty streets; they hear people cry in pain without medical care, they smell unwashed bodies, and in general are overwhelmed by the misery that is all around them. But none of us will be able to really give if he has not discovered that what he gives is only a small thing compared to what we have received. When Jesus says: “Happy the poor, the hungry, and the weeping” (Luke 6:21), we have to be able to see that happiness. When Jesus says: “What you did to the least of my brothers, you did to me” (Matthew 25:40), he is addressing to us a direct invitation not only to help but also to discover the beauty of God in those who are to be helped. As long as we see only distasteful poverty, we are not really entitled to give. When, however, we find people who have truly devoted themselves to work in the slums and the ghettos and who feel that their vocation is to be of service there, we find that they have discovered that in the smiles of the children, the hospitality of the people; the expressions they use, the stories they tell, the wisdom they show, the goods they share; there is hidden so much richness and beauty, so much affection and human warmth, that the work they are doing is only a small return for what they have already received. Henri Nouwen”
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Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164
http://www.temenos.org

Waiting Until the Robots Take Over

July 11, 2020

Waiting Until the Robots Take Over

“For as the rain and the snow came down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11

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    These days nothing feels safe. Sharing public space, breathing the same air with strangers, you can not even extend your hand for hand shake or give your teen friends a greeting with their sign. You either bump elbows or make a gesture with your arm from a distance.

    There is a lack of trust in the air. People are afraid. And in the process we are losing the human experience, we are on our way to becoming robots.

    Half my time is on snap chat, and it is difficult to get a feel for people, to hear their voice, see their eyes, we live in a cyberspace world. It sucks. I have turned off my phone the last couple of days–feeling like being pulled into cyber world, without feeling, caring, and simply floating.

    The Angel of Death circles. I have seen people die, suffer, and am faced with that reality every day. Some times I yearn to hear the voice of my friends, without talking about politics, finances, simply being present to one another.

    One of my eighteen year old friends insisted when we were in Noveto not to go to Chick a fill, because it is  either pro-trump or whatever.  I laughed, first comment on politics to come out of his mouth, and probably the last. So my friends and I went to Chick a fill for them, to In and Out for Jonathan.  We strive to please.

    In the end it does not matter who we vote for, where we eat, or political persuasion, our religious or non-religious beliefs, the color of our skin, our sexual orientation–what matters is that we show love to one another, for when our eyes close in death–we are all the same.

    I refuse to judge people in categories, instead to  accept them without judgment simply as children of God, trying to find their way. Each is special, each is lovable.

    As technology continues to take over I am at a crossroads. Part of me wants to find a bunker or a room in Palm Springs (I am dead when I do that) and hide out from the pending doomsday scenario.

    Instead  I picked up  a new IPhone, keep wearing my mask, staying six feet a part, and just embrace the changing world in the spirt of the One who loves us.  

    Either way it is a sacrifice, at least until the robots take over. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

Stability: The Art of the Ordinary

July 11, 2020

Stability–The Steady Practice of the Ordinary

The Feast of St. Benedict

Isaiah 6:1-8

Isaiah’s Vision of the Lord

6 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train[a] of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”[b]

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

Isaiah’s Commission from the Lord

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”

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     Isaiah’s vision of God in the temple was solitary, yet his encounter with the weight of God’s glory called him into a life of service.

    St. Benedict was a contemplative who was constantly called back to service in community life.

    Our own life has been one called in the silence of the night, to be continually pulled back in  service to  community life.

    In our early years in ministry we moved from place to place, from our own ambitions, but more from our fear of failure.

    That is why when people ask us: “How much longer are you going to stay in San Francisco?’ our answer–to the day we die or are forced out. We took a vow of stability (from St. Benedict) when we came to San Francisco. We will practice the ordinary, live in the grime, pain, fear, and yet the glory of the City. We will find God where we are. That practice has blossomed in a number of ways:

    First: Our loyalty to the Church. When people wail, moan, and reject the Church, we look back to our own experience–nurtured as a child, and loved and confirmed in ministry as a young adult, and and than rejected, condemned, slandered, hated, and spit upon. The Church beat us to a pulp. As Dorothy Day once said, “The Church is both a whore and our Holy Mother.”

    But you can not throw out the baby with the bath wash. When we tear through the homophobia, racism, prejudices, and the human layers, we can hear the words of St. Benedict: “As our lives and faith progress, the heart expands and with the sweetness of love we move down the path’s of God’s commandments.”

    At the heart is the face of Jesus who smiles and loves us. When we were ordained it was to be a “Keeper of the Mysteries,” the mystery of the love of God in Christ. A love that rejects no one, and has no judgment.

    Secondly, stability in the practice of personal-ism, We meet people where they are; we walk with young adults on their level, we allow them to enter our lives and we theirs  in such away we are one with them. We walk with them without judgment on their level.

    We never turn walk away  from  people. They may hate us, they may try to harm us, reject us, but we receive them back. We accept them with arms of love. We admit we are the “chief of sinners”, so how can we judge another.

    Thirdly, practice of  Daily Office and Holy Communion. We pray the Liturgy of the Hours/Daily Office six times a day, and celebrate Holy Communion daily. We stay firm in our liturgical commitment of prayer and Sacraments for it binds us to the heart of the One who has called us. We remain solid in the faith. Our faith sustains us when all is falling around us.

    These are the three elements of stability that holds our sanity or craziness (your choice)  together when the world is breaking up all around us.

    Our ministry is to witness to the stability of the Gospel and to encourage others to find stability in their spiritual lives through however they know God. Only God can provide ultimate stability.

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

Eternal Presence

July 10, 2020
The Eternal in the Present
All the events of life, even such dark events as war, famine and flood, violence and murder, are not irreversible fatalities. Each moment is like a seed that carries within itself the possibility of becoming the moment of change. . . . We no longer need to run from present time in search of the place where we think life is really happening. We begin to have a truer vision of the world and of our lives in relationship to time and eternity. We begin to glimpse something of eternity in time. At this point boredom falls away and the joyful and painful moments of our lives take on new and profound meaning. It is then that we know that for us time is becoming transparent.
The contemplative life, therefore, is not a life that offers a few good moments between the many bad ones, but a life that transforms all our time into a window through which the invisible world becomes visible. Fr. Henri Nouwen
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Matthew 10:7-15: Jesus said to his apostles. . ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out the demons. Without you have received: without cost you are to give.   . .”

    Eve Lavaliere was a well known opera singer in Paris in the late part of the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth. She felt her heart convicted one day, and gave her life to Jesus. No religious order would take her because she was so famous. She became a third order Franciscan.     In the years following, she volunteered  as a lay nurse in Tunisia, She died on July 10, 1929  with   no money, in a flea bag of a hotel, no friends, alone, she was “the happiest person in the world.”
    Eve had a “revolution of the heart,” she entered into the “present moment,” and found love in every part of the world. She ended up with nothing, but in truth she had everything.
    “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand,” :
“The contemplative life, therefore, is not a life that offers a few good moments between the many bad ones, but a life that transforms all our time into a window through which the invisible world becomes visible.”

    Go deep within yourselves, and turn your hearts to God’s presence and his call to “love our neighbor.”
    And as our life “transforms all our time into a window through which the invisible world becomes visible;,” no matter our health, housing, or financial conditions we will be “the happiest person in the world.” Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!
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Father River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min.,D.S.T.
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164
http://www.temenos.org
415-305-2124

Journey on the Edge

July 8, 2020

Living on the Edge

Matthew 10:1-7

        The twelve disciples are listed in this passage. Twelve men, from all areas of life, rough,, tough, fickle, none live in the black and white areas of life, and they would change the world. They all lived on the edge.

    I remember a day in May many moons ago, after being interviewed by the Board of Ordained ministry for ordination, and a a member of the Board,and psychologist informed me that I would be ordained. In his remarks Jerry said; “Your theology seems to be so positive, you do not see how depraved humanity is.”  You are very black and white, and your time is coming when you will enter the darkness, and in doing so find the light.”

    It was a prophesy that would come true sooner than later. All of my life I had lived in the upper middle class black and whiteness. There was poverty and discrimination, and never did I see it from my white protected eyes. I felt loved, surrounded by people who respected and supported me.

    And than came the questioning of my sexuality, and the friends, some of whom I knew from childhood, turned on me, and I was kicked out of my church.

    The best thing that ever happened was being a whore and living on the streets of Hollywood. I lived in a grey world, a world  completely different than the one in which I grew up. I learned to walk on the edge, not to judge people, but to listen,to love them, and to be with them in the moment.

    I live between two worlds-one in which people have no perception of the reality of what is going on under their noses, and the other of people suffering questioning, living on the edge, and feeling totally alone. A world where death is a present reality. As one author tells us:“The street transforms every ordinary day into a series of quick questions and every incorrect answer risks a beat down, a shooting or pregnancy.” This is the real world.

    We live in a world of snap chat, text, face book–where there is little feeling and emotion expressed. We  try to put on our best face. It is a world that is cruel, and treacherous because things can be said without any feed back; a world in which gossip is passed, and becomes implanted on our computers.     A threat was recently made that scared the fuck out of me, it sticks in my  mind, goes deep within me late at night. They come now  too often these days.

    We need to put down our computers, come out of the nether world and talk to people, listen, and love them, and see the wonders that are performed. Rather than tear down statues we need to change our hearts and bring a revolution of the heart and those statues will fall down. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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Father River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

From Eternity to Eternity

July 7, 2020

From Eternity to Eternity

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come,nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
I have always been very conscious of my clock-time. Often I asked myself: “Can I still double my years?” When I was thirty I said: “I can easily live another thirty!” When I was forty, I mused, “Maybe I am only halfway!” Today I can no longer say that, and my question has become: “How am I going to use the few years left to me?” All these concerns about our clock-time come from below. They are based on the presupposition that our chronology is all we have to live. But looked upon from above, from God’s perspective, our clock-time is embedded in the timeless embrace of God. Looked upon from above, our years on earth are not simply chronos, but kairos—another Greek word for time—which is the opportunity to claim for ourselves the love that God offers us from eternity to eternity.” Henri Nouwen
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    This verse lifts up the limitless capacity of God’s people to love and create. In these days when I do not feel like I belong any where, where I feel like I really have no friends–but acquaintances, my smallness is put into context by this verse–and I feel the enormity of my connection to all the cosmos that God has filled with divine love.
    I am simply a no body, another creature, created for a time, and will move soon into eternity, unsure of what is ahead, but trusting in the One this verse proclaims.
    On social media and our media we see remarks of anger and destruction of statues–which is telling people that they were wrong, when in reality it is only half truth. We judge from our context rather than the context of the times.
    For example George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Juniper Serra, Mother Teresa, are but four in which we judge totally from our times, where we live, and our own experience. We need to judge from their times, and where they lived. Our time, and our culture is not absolute.
    They were far from perfect, but for their culture and their times they offered hope. Their times were brutal times, and so is  ours. Our times are just as brutal if not more brutal. We have social media, television, atomic bombs, that can absolutely destroy us in mind, and spirit and body.
    I am a southerner, and in recent weeks there have had been people say really horrible things to me, when they have no idea about what the hell they are talking about.
    I am proud to be a southerner. My back ground has given me the compassion that I show  people every day; it has given me an appreciation for community, and for family outside of my blood relatives and an appreciation of hospitality. It has given me the capacity to meet people one on one, and to love them for who they are.  In seminary there was an attempt to remove my accent through speech training–I refused to participate. I am proud to be a southerner.
    You look at the history of every region in this country, and you will find the different biases, and and pasts that still haunt us. All of us are covered in blood.
    Recently there were four people who surrounded, threatened, and cussed me because of a ta too of Juinper Serra on my arm. They called me every name in the book, and one waved a knife threatening to cut it off unless I had it removed. I told them to go to hell, and they ran because I did not back down.
    So tell me: Is this behavior any less barbaric than the behavior of Father Serra’s time. Are we going to destroy the churches he founded? I spent a semester researching him–yes he was a part of his times, yes he acted out of those times, but he stood out for his compassion and caring.
    The same goes for homelessness. We simply are not aware of how severe the  housing shortage is, and how severe it is going to get. There is little housing for homeless individuals , and many more  will lose their housing and be on the streets. We need to look what is beneath the problem, and be willing to give of ourselves to provide housing. The politicians  will only do what we ask them to do. we have to be involved, all of us.
    There is an old saying, “Do not judge another until you walk a mile in their moccasins”; “When you point one finger at a person you are pointing four at yourself.”
    This old southerner claims  “kairos—another Greek word for time—which is the opportunity to claim for ourselves the love that God offers us from eternity to eternity.”
   What this means for us is that we will meet anyone in the middle, we will discuss, even argue, in the bounds of the love of God, and if we do not come to an agreement, we can simply walk away with respect and love for each other. Like the story of two knights going into battle one morning, and than at the end of the day, when  one is defeated or no one is, shake hands, and parting say to one another, “Great fight, we will fight again tomorrow,” and then they sit down to supper together.
    Living in “kairo”  time means we meet each other on the grounds of love, even when we hate each other, and see all sides, and respect all sides, and keep on meeting until we meet in the middle and agree. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!
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Father River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.
P.O. Box 642656
San  Francisco, CA 94164
http://www.temenos.org

Firefox Sparkling in the Night

July 6, 2020

Fireflies Sparkling in the Night

Matthew 9:18-26

    Our gospel today  is one of the miracles of Jesus, but what about the other 95 percent of the time? He did not cure every other sick person? Are the one’s cured “special”?What about the 30 years before his ministry? Jesus was a carpenter, simply a life of making a living, rather boring and my guess is that outside of these miracles his day to day life was rather boring.

       Mark Manson reminds us: “Your actions actually do not matter in the grand scheme of things. .the vast majority of your life will be boring and not noteworthy and that is ok. .”

    We all want hundreds of likes on Facebook, a hundred people to talk to on snap chat. and if we do not have that we are a failure.

    I have spent most of my life trying to succeed, to stand out, to be number one–and we come down to what Manson tells us: “your actions actually do not matter in the grand scheme of things. .” and I know the moment I draw my last breath I become forgotten.

    Entering the autumn of my  life we have come to see we are simply a fire fly in the midst of thousands, a fire fly flickering in the night and that leaves us free to accomplish what we want to accomplish, which is simply to walk with people on their journey, without judgment or expectations and appreciate life’s  basic experiences: pleasure in simple friendship,  creating something, helping a person in need, reading a good book, and laughing with someone we  care about. These are the things that are ordinary, ordinary for the  reason they really matter. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 6424656

San Francisco, CA 94164

www,temenos.org

415-305-2124

Maturity

July 5, 2020

Maturity: Giving A F+ck About What is F+ck Worthy!

Come to Me, and I Will Give You Rest

25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.[a] 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

    In his excellent book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F+ck Mark Manson defines maturity in these words:

Maturity is what happens when one learns only to give a f+ck about about what is truly f+ck worthy.”

I have held the hands without gloves  of several people as they lay dying from the cornovirus, nurses screaming at me. To me that is ‘f+ck worthy’, for it recognizes their humanity, and offers the touch of love in their final moments, their suffering. My prayer is that when my time comes, there is someone who will hold my hand without fear.

    The reality is we all suffer, suffering is a part of our DNA, rich, poor, homeless, old, young, believer, atheist, disabled–we all suffer, simply a part of our DNA.

    Today listening to a part of the President’s speech I cringed, and felt his suffering, a suffering that hurts so many with it’s division, hatred, anger, nevertheless his suffering. Suffering needs to be used to bring support to people, to all of creation.

    Suffering is not black and white, but is a very gray area for it presents itself in all forms, and we all suffer, tremendously. We can cover it with money, power, prestige, discrimination against one another, but we all suffer, and that suffering comes out in both good and harmful ways. We can choose to suffer hurting others, or we can choose to use our suffering in being present to others.

    I have an almost nineteen year old friend, who has for three years every day, snap chatted me, “Good morning,” and “Good night!” It gives me much joy, to be remembered, I feel cared for and recognized. Cale, very simply with three words, eases my suffering.

    We use our religion, our political beliefs, our ignoring others, as a means to try to run a way from  suffering. Anything that tries to cover suffering in ways that are self-centered, and harmful  is an “opiate”.

    For me what is “truly f+ck worthy” in my suffering is the gospel of Jesus of Nazareth and sharing that gospel in my actions with out judgement to others, in order to bring some relief to their suffering.  I choose to share in the suffering of others, so that each of us can find some comfort and hope.

    Jesus invites us to see our suffering  as a part of our journey, and what we choose “to give a f+ck about” determines the joy we find in that suffering.

    He invites us to:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

Solitude

July 4, 2020

The Celebration of Yaweh’s Kingship

(This is a statement on the Kingdom of God, and to Whom We Give Our Ultimate Allegiance)

Solitude

Matthew ll:25-30

Everything is Indeed Good
“I just returned from a walk through the dark woods. It was cool and windy, but everything spoke of you. Everything: the clouds, the trees, the wet grass, the valley with its distant lights, the sound of the wind. They all spoke of your resurrection; they all made me aware that everything is indeed good. In you all is created good, and by you all creation is renewed and brought to an even greater glory than it possessed at its beginning.
O Lord, I know now that it is in silence, in a quiet moment, in a forgotten corner that you will meet me, call me by name and speak to me a word of peace. It is in my stillest hour that you become the risen Lord to me.” Father Henri Nouwen.————————–

    I have been thinking about solitude, and it hit me that solitude must be thought of  in the plural. We all see solitude from different perspectives. I have a very active perspective, not simply sitting somewhere,  praying, and simply being away, alone. Going to a movie, walking, sitting and meditating, and writing in our journal. We all come to solitude in different ways, one pair of shoes does not fit all of us.

    Since the lock down began in March many of us have been experiencing more solitude than in the past. That has brought with it, its own struggles as well as graces.

Solitude is seen by many people as a “me” time, a time to recharge our batteries, and return to our daily activities.
 
    For others, and especially for those who live alone, this period of extended solitude has been a time, not of recharging and renewing, but of isolation and loneliness, when work and social routines have become virtual or remote, and physical connections limited to what can happen sitting six feet away from another. This time has become a living hell, and one of much fear, anxiety and pain. It is a time of grace and of challenge.
 

    In the Christian tradition solitude is not about recharging our batteries, but about an encounter with the divine. We have been working during this time, and the time taken for our self  in solitude is a time of grace, and of meeting Jesus alone, to renew  our strength and  faith.

    Time alone becomes a place of divine presence and companionship. Jacob reminds us:, “surely the Lord is in this place” as we open ourselves to an encounter with the living God. It is a time of great renewal, and a feeling of being very much alone. It is a struggle with our own darkness.

    But the one experience from this solitude is of a God who deeply loves the world, for we encounter the living God, who embodies love. God loves the world so much he let his only son suffer and die for it. We see the world as God sees it—through the tears of God’s loving eyes.

    The burden of this heart-breaking love is almost too hard to bear. But i the words of Jesus  reminds us that Jesus knew the tears of sadness, and in that knowing says to us, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” And we know that the One who wept is the resurrection and the life.

    
The Psalmist reminds us that weeping may spend the night, but joy comes in the morning. In solitude We come to see the world as God sees it, and his call is that of loving our neighbors as ourselves.

And in solitude, the voices of so many who challenge our faith, coming at us from a million places, naming a God we do not like cease and we hear the words of Bishop Michael Curry: “If it’s not about love it is not about God.”

    On my wall are two paintings, one of me personally when we were 24, and the other entitled “Holy Communion and the Streets:

    In the our photo we are  strong, sitting proudly with a skate board, and arrogant as hell; in the one above we look confident , but am scarred like the young man in Holy Communion and the Streets. We are a part of all three  photos. Nothing is black and white, and at times the pain comes through. We have seen death, brutality, and the worst aspects of life. We see it now every day. Yet in each person we still see the face of Christ. This is where we belong.

    On our wrist we wear a silver bracelet given to us by Sam, ten years ago, when he was 22.  Shane was a victim of child trafficking, he lived with what he called his “gentleman” friend, in his sixties, until he was 18, he came to San Francisco often from another City to prostitute. He was a sweet kid, and now I hear reports of him at 34, still homeless, torn up by doubts and fears, victim of others; on September 11, 2001, we were in Portland, stranded because of the situation in New York and became ill. A minister friend took us to the hospital and left, and Shane called , and he came to the hospital. Shane took usto his hotel room and took care of us as we recovered, and our  minister friend said  later, “how could you go home with a kid like that,” our  answer, “he is my friend,”  and than there is Mike, who in his forties is still as crazy as he was when we met him on the streets, at 23 or 24. He now has a wife, and is on face book with photos  of his nice house, his garden, and still as wild as ever.

    And so on the streets, in the world, where we  have chose  and given the privilege  to live we hear the words of Bishop Curry, “If it is not about love, it is not about God.”

    God is present only in love, forgiveness, and caring for others regardless of who they are. It is painful work, and all of us are called to do that work, and to pass it on, until the reign of God comes upon the earth–and it will! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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Father Christian River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.

P. O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

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This blog is dedicated to all the “misfits” who have no place to feel comfortable, but witness to the Kingdom in their differences.