Archive for the ‘religion’ Category

Write Down the Vision!

October 2, 2022

Write Down the Vision!

Twenty-Seventh Week of Ordinary Time!

October 1, 2022

Habakkuk:2-4; 2:2-6

“God how long do I have to cry out for help before you listen? How many times do I have to yell, “Help, murder, police?”. .And then God answered, “Write this. Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. . .”

Our reading for the Twenty-Seventh Week of Ordinary Time is from the short book of Habakkuk, just three chapters, and is entirely devoted to a dialogue between God and the prophet. Habakkuk’s name means “to wrestle and embrace,” and in this book, he is wrestling with God, and also embracing him.

When Habakkuk was writing, Israel was under corrupt leadership where injustice, evil, and tragedy were the norm.  Habakkuk saw the injustice happening around him and questioned whether God even cared. His heart ached for the people and the oppression they were facing. In the midst of the injustice, Habakkuk was trying to reconcile who he believed God to be and what he saw in front of him. It is a  familiar dilemma that many of us have faced, wondering where God was in the midst of pain and sorrow and whether God truly cared.

Against all odds, Habakkuk decided to wait faithfully for God’s response to his lament. When God finally answered, Habakkuk heard this command, “Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run,” and God promises, he/her “will not disappoint” and will come at the “appointed time.”

We too see injustice, oppression, and discrimination around us. Homelessness is growing every day in the City and across the nation. Each day as I walk down the street, there are ten or so people frankly out of it, either on drugs or mental illness or both; working every day I see hundreds without clothing, sleeping equipment, and food. Housing being built is for the upper classes, there is hardly a middle class in San Francisco, the very rich or the very poor. The police are harsh with people who are homeless and are discriminatory and do not deal with mental illness or drug users well. People without housing are seen as a “problem” and are pushed from place to place. We walk by and ignore the one in front of us in need. The politicians are so polarized, and divided, that nothing is done. The religious community keeps their doors shut, and complains about homeless people sleeping on their doorsteps. This is not God’s vision!

God’s vision is not found in our sitting back, and whining, but is found in “wrestling with the issue, and embracing God” in action.

We are called to meet the needs of people without housing outside of our doors; to feed them; give up our money and our time to provide food and clothing for them; to advocate and fight for their needs in society and other issues; to open our doors to the needy of the neediest.

St. Clare of Assisi once said: “We become what we love and Who we love shapes what we become.” Sr. Helen Prejean, in the photo above, is a living example of that phrase. In 1993 she was a school teacher nun in New Orleans, and in an experience of seeing Christ in a condemned prisoner, she experienced a new conversion of the heart, and her life has been given to advocating for the end of the death penalty. She has become who she loves.

God’s vision asks all of us to show up and speak up for justice, and do justice! We must trust the vision of justice will come, even if we have to wait. We are simply carrying the torch until we pass the torch forward.

Martin Luther King, Jr. eloquently said: “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.”

As the consecrated Bread and Wine are lifted at the Holy Eucharist, the words are uttered: “See who you are, become who you see!

Let us lift our eyes up to the homeless, the poor, and see the broken body of Jesus, and minister to him, let us become who we see! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

====

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

Angels UnAware

September 30, 2022

Saints Michael. Gabriel. and Raphael

Angel’s Unaware!

John 1:47-51

“Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him: Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him. . .

John Shulman writes in The Manual For Receiving God,

“God receives us just as we are. But we don’t receive ourselves in the same way. We don’t love ourselves as we are. Our deepest work is not so much to improve ourselves as to realize ourselves, to see ourselves clearly and dearly.”

I have spent the better part of my life trying to meet the expectation of others. And the result has been simply being a mess. But as I have come to love myself what gives my life meaning and purpose is merely to practice kindness to who and what I am, and in so doing I practice kindness and love towards everyone meet, a message I heard from  our Lady of Guadalupe at the Cathedral of the Angels in Los Angels on a night of working as a sex worker, many years ago:  “Jesus loves you as you are, get on with the ministry of loving others.”

Yesterday was the feast of three angels, which brought to mind the angels, the angels who are “Angels Unaware” that have come through my life.

One of those angels was Damien, whom I first met in 1992, in Minneapolis, a young man, who struggled with his sexuality, being kicked out of his home because of that sexuality, and living on the street, hustling, and doing whatever he had to do to survive.

He was an “Angel Unaware” to me and others. I struggled with my own sexuality, trying to find my way in a world without the institutional church, friends, and family, Damien walked with me, and from him, I “began to see myself more clearly and dearly.” He died of AIDS and now is a part of the great Cloud of Witnesses that surrounds us.

Damien lived out the tack that Jesus taught in the Gospel. One person approaches another, engaging in simple conversation, dignifying his existence by simply recognizing the fellow human being before him. Only then does Jesus speak of angels.

Perhaps we would do well today to treat our pesky emails and texts, phone calls, and surprise visitors in this way. Don’t keep looking for the next message, put down your games and snap chat; be present to the person on the other end of the one you just received. After all, you may unknowingly be entertaining an angel. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

—————

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

punkpriest1@gmail.com

Socks Are Life!

September 28, 2022

Socks Are Life!

One rainy, dark night, coming home from dinner with friends, waiting to cross the street, a young guy named”Shaggy” pulled on my jacket. He was wet, and begging for socks.

Looking down I saw soggy, wet, socks, looking like they had been worn forever. So I took my shoes off and handed him the socks on my feet.

That began a journey of examination of the importance of wearing socks, and how difficult not having clean socks are for people who live on the streets to obtain. Few people give socks in donations, and they are expensive.

When one walks the streets of Polk and Haight in San Francisco, one sees a variety of people–tourists, bright-eyed, awed by the buildings, art on the walls,  cable cars, our multi-colored culture in general, people who are housed, middle class to the wealthiest, and people who have no housing.

Estimates tell us in San Francisco alone there are twenty-thousand plus people without housing,  and one-fourth of which are young adults–from 12-23. For the most part, they are sight unseen, no one seems to see them, the invisible population of the City.

This is my parish, my church, a ministry of presence with people, especially youth without housing. It is a  listening ministry, simply hanging out, making no judgments, and along with the listening food is given, and always the number one request– socks.

I have given you a pair of socks, take them in your hands (they will be given a pair of socks), feel and, smell their pleasant order, experience the soft touch, and imagine how comfortable your feet will feel when they are placed on your feet.

Imagine wearing those socks for six or seven days, and imagine the smell. Imagine wearing wet socks.

Socks are more than comfort, when feet are injured from not wearing socks or from dirty wet socks it leads to poor health through sores and infected feet which spreads throughout the body. Socks are an item of providing good health.

Dorothy Day, one of the founders of the Catholic Worker movement once reflected on prayer to a group of teens who asked her how often she prayed:

“Does God have a set way of prayer, a way that He expects each of us to follow? I doubt it. I believe some people–lots of people-pray through the witness in their lives, through the work they do, the friendships they have, and the love they offer people and receive from people. Since when are words the only acceptable form of prayer.”

My invitation is to each of you to give the prayer of clean socks! Clean socks save lives!

———–

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

snapchat: riodamien3

punkpriest1@gmail.com

Hope in the Midst of Tragedy!

September 27, 2022

A Hope Beyond Tragedy!

Reading 1 Jb 3:1-3, 11-17, 20-23

Job opened his mouth and cursed his day.
Job spoke out and said:

Perish the day on which I was born,
the night when they said, “The child is a boy!”

Why did I not perish at birth,
come forth from the womb and expire?
Or why was I not buried away like an untimely birth,
like babes that have never seen the light?
Wherefore did the knees receive me?
or why did I suck at the breasts?

For then I should have lain down and been tranquil;
had I slept, I should then have been at rest
With kings and counselors of the earth
who built where now there are ruins
Or with princes who had gold
and filled their houses with silver.

There the wicked cease from troubling,
there the weary are at rest.

Why is light given to the toilers,
and life to the bitter in spirit?
They wait for death and it comes not;
they search for it rather than for hidden treasures,
Rejoice in it exultingly,
and are glad when they reach the grave:
Those whose path is hidden from them,
and whom God has hemmed in!

================================

Suffering is not a subject we want to think of, even bring up, let alone talk about, when all of us suffer in one manner or another.

Job was suffering over the death of his kids, and he went back and forth in his questioning and doubts about God.

The actions of humanity result in our suffering. Climate change, violence, and abuse are a result of human action, yet we want God to deliver us.

My young friend Damien was raised in a loving and caring home, with a conservative faith experience. At twelve years old he was “saved” in his words.  He told me that from the age of nine, he knew he was gay. In adolescence, he would sneak around gay bars, and parks where men cruised, and had sex.

Damien began to have symptoms of HIV at sixteen and went to a doctor who diagnosed him and told Damien’s parents.

Telling his parents, refusing to repent he was kicked out of his home and found himself hustling on the street. He was free, cute, and he lived wild.

He converted to AIDS at twenty and experienced severe depression, had no faith in anything, and became suicidal. But in his struggle, found faith in a God of love, and he moved into being present to others. He was safe in his sex life, and with hustling clients; Damien worked with others suffering from AIDS, and volunteered in a hospice; he died in peace at San Francisco General Hospital at the age of 23.

Through his struggles with doubt, rejection, and in despair without hope, the resurrection of the Crucified One, turned defeat into triumph, ugliness into beauty, despair into hope, and the cross into faith in the resurrection. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

———–

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

Real Human Grief!

September 27, 2022

Real  Human Grief!

“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked shall I return. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:30-31). ESV

Death is inevitable, we can not escape death. As much as I watch my diet and stay at the proper weight, check my glucose, exercise, and get the proper rest, I will die.

We have “little deaths” in our lives, preparing us for our final moments, and it is important we recognize and grieve these “little deaths” in preparation for living with compassion now! In my own life I remember many:

My grandparents

my parents,

losing my first career in coming out,

my friend Brandon in the photo,

my son Zack,

my friend Vicki Yeley,

my friends Ken and Rose Innes,

 the thousands through the

years of my ministry,

and

the thousands of friends who move through my

life

the gentrification of the City, little deaths, much grieving.

Death weaves within our lives every day, we can run, we can try to hide, but death is present.

Many times I am asked: exactly what do you do? How many people do you get off the streets? Tell me of someone you have really helped.

My ministry, (our) ministry is not about providing material items, they are secondary, necessary for survival, and heart warming, it is one of spirit, being present with individuals in their lives in general, holding their hands, simply listening as they struggle with living on the streets, wrestling with addiction and abuse. Listening to their wrestling with God and meaning in life, and in facing death each day on the streets. The streets “ain’t for sissies”.

Father Henri Nouwen in his lovely words shares his reflection on facing death:

“Real human grief means allowing the illusions of immortality to die in us. When those whom we love with an “endless love” die, something also has to die within us. If we do not allow this to happen, we will lose touch with reality, our lives will become increasingly artificial, and we will lose our human capacity for compassion.”

To experience our “real human grief” allows us to open our hearts to others without judgment, in all-embracing care and love. For we see we are all on the same journey, and experience the same fate! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!”

————

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

punkpriest1@gmail.com

Being a Child!

September 24, 2022

Luke 16:19-31

In the book of  Ecclesiastes, we are told to “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may die.” It is a book that calls us to live in the present as does the “Open-Eyed Crucifix” with Jesus looking strong, arms outstretched and open eyes looking out into the world loving humanity.

The “Open-Eyed” crucifix was the one that shaped St. Francis, for as Jesus looks out he calls us to see the love in his eyes, the love that brought him to the cross, and go back and share that love with others. This is the heart of Franciscan theology.

The one event in life of Francis’s, that shaped his life, was the caring for the leper and touching his wounds. From that moment forward Frances touched the wounds of all he came into contact with.

Reading The Chronicles of Narnia one is reminded of the childlikeness of St.Francis, and of how like a child he looked in wonder at the world and saw all creatures as equal. 

In the words of Jason Shulman, St. Francis came to the knowledge that  “knowing who you are is not a mystical thing but a matter of experiences, acceptance, honesty, and compassion. It is knowing you are small and selfish,, greedy and angry, great creative, tenderhearted, and caring”

Being “childlike” is meeting  “Joey” (photo above) where he is, on his level. Joey has been on the street for over thirty years. He is always talking about his inheritance, owning a number of brand-new cars, and always offering me one. I tell him “let’s go get it,” which never happens. He lives in a fantasy land in many ways. Joey talks of being happy, we meet him where he is.

In seeing the evil in ourselves, the darkness that is so destructive, and comes out in divisions in our daily lives, and the good, the very best of ourselves, we see the good in others.

In seeing the good in others, we are able to say of the world, “This is good”, and like Jesus, we can love each other. We are the yin and yang. We are called to be children again. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

————————–

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

September 22, 2022

Peniel

“Where Jacob Walked With God. .”

————————————–

Journal of An Alien Street Priest:

During our unusual late summer rains, I engaged in a simple ritual–walking on the beach in Pacifica, and picking up starfish washed up on the shore. A time of reflection on my twenty-eighth anniversary of coming to San Francisco, October 1, 1994.

I slowly walked the beach, free of people, except for the few walking their dogs, hearing the waves rush in, feeling the rain on my face, I observed the starfish shells, and some alive, pushed in by the waves. This was a meditative practice for me, which I realized sounds loftier than reality. I was simply picking up starfish, alive, throwing them back into the ocean.

 Sometimes my attention landed on the shells, other times there were some alive, and my heart leaped as I picked them up and threw them back into the waves.  It was all shocking and clear. For each one picked up my memory journeyed back through the years remembering all of the starfish on the street  I have picked up, caring, listening, and throwing them into the Sea of Love.

Reading The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis for the past four weeks I have arrived at a new appreciation of life and ministry. In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, one reads of Lucy (one of the children allowed into Narnia) asking Aslan ( the Lion who represents Christ) how to get into “Aslan’s land.”  His reply: “Find the land within yourself.”

For me “Ashlan’s land” is on these nitty, gritty streets, where each move can mean pregnancy, a wound, and death, where  I have experienced the gift of casting the starfish of God into the Sea of Love.

Eckhart Troilo’s commented: “Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.” To live in the present moment, accepting it as for what it is,  and walking the way of the Gospel.

And so as we enter into our twenty-ninth year we invite you to continue our journey together. The journey of following Jesus into Galilee, finding the “land of Ashlan” within ourselves, and finding the peace of God.

Thank you for your support, friendship, and prayers during these years and for continuing with me on throwing our starfish into the Sea of Love! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

————————————

The Feast of St. Francis is October 4, in which we remember Francis, this year we will celebrate on October 6, providing vegetarian sandwiches on the street.

————————————————–

We Are Beggars!

    We beg! We are in need of funds as always and invite you to give through the mail:

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

or

Paypal

or

 website

http://www.temenos.org

======================

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

Love Extravagantly!

September 18, 2022
https://s3.amazonaws.com/5silo.penzu.com/photos/10842116/big/Donnie.jpg?1663525521

Love Extravagtantly

God Sees Behind Appearances

“10-13 Jesus went on to make these comments:

If you’re honest in small things,
    you’ll be honest in big things;
If you’re a crook in small things,
    you’ll be a crook in big things.
If you’re not honest in small jobs,
    who will put you in charge of the store?
No worker can serve two bosses:
    He’ll either hate the first and love the second
Or adore the first and despise the second.
    You can’t serve both God and the Bank.”

————————-

     On a rainy, dark night, the phone rang and Donnie called. He was really sobbing and needed help. Donnie was young, 19, and struggling with his sexuality. In the weeks before he had been hanging out with a bunch of “fundie” Christians, was “saved”, and Donnie was now “straight”.

    That night he had “acted out”, in fact, he had been “acting out” with other men making money, and his new “friends” begged him to pray and pointed to Scripture which suggested one should “cut off” the member that had sinned. Donnie tried to cut off his penis. He had cut deep into his testicles.

    When I arrived, blood was everywhere, and the young “Christians” were praying, had their hands on his head, and on his hands holding his injury.

    As I helped him up to take him to the hospital one of the young girls commented, “Let him stay so we can pray the “sin out of him,” and my response is not quotable.

    Donnie was bandaged, healed, and spent the next five years of his life really struggling, and one night he walked out into traffic, both his legs were cut off and spent the rest of his life in a care facility where he died of an infection.

    In our gospel we see Jesus praising a dishonest man, or was he not praising his ingenuity?

    The renowned intellectual Bernard Lonergan once shared that he liked this text because “it is the one place in scripture where human intelligence and ingenuity are praised.”  The question one might raise is “Why would Jesus use an example of dishonesty to do this?”

    Because what Jesus is praising here is not dishonestly but ingenuity–ingenuity as the antithesis of complaint, whining, and despair. Jesus points out that those who are outside our religious circles tend to be more ingenious in times of trouble than we committed believers who often give ourselves over to grumbling and inaction.

    Our religious circles and our social circles are made up of people we feel comfortable with, usually of the same economic, and racial makeup. They are made up of the same religious, and political beliefs. To cross those boundaries makes us uncomfortable, and so we complain, groan, and act out against anyone who differs from us.

    I am with Lonergan in his takeaway from this story: Ingenuity is the opposite of complaint and despair. I live in the grey areas, there is no black or white.

    Our fears, complaints, and whining come from a fear of death, death in all aspects–loss of social status, friends, and life. Henri Nouwen tells us to “Befriend Death

Our first task is to befriend death. I like the expression “to befriend.” I first heard it used by Jungian analyst James Hillman when he attended a seminar I taught on Christian Spirituality at Yale Divinity School. He emphasized the importance of “befriending”: befriending your dreams, befriending your shadow, befriending your unconscious. He made it convincingly clear that in order to become full human beings, we have to claim the totality of our experience; we come to maturity by integrating not only the light but also the dark side of our story into our selfhood. That made a lot of sense to me, since I am quite familiar with my own inclination, and that of others, to avoid, deny, or suppress the painful side of life, a tendency that always leads to physical, mental, or spiritual disaster. . . .   I have a deep sense, hard to articulate, that if we could really befriend death we would be free people. So many of our doubts, hesitations, ambivalences, and insecurities are bound up with our deep-seated fear of death that our lives would be significantly different if we could relate to death as a familiar guest instead of a threatening stranger.” When we befriend death, we learn that ultimately all that matters are the words of the Apostle Paul who sums up the message of Jesus with these words from I Corinthians 13: “For right now until that completeness (the final end of our lives) we have three things to do to lead us to our final consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of these is love.”     Every act we do is a cry for love. Our acts are all seeking a place to belong, and we hurt a lot of people.     My young Christian friends really, and honestly believed they were loving Donnie, but that love destroyed him.     To love is to give our lives away, not expecting anything in return, not to make a judgment on anyone! To risk crucifixion like Jesus!  In so doing we find ourselves and the needs of all will be fulfilled! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God! —————— Fr. River Damian Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T. P.O. Box 642656 San Francisco, CA 94164 www.temenos.org 415-305-2124

Keeping Your Eyes on the Prize!

September 15, 2022

.

@Bombas Keeping Your Eyes on the Prize!

Feast of Our Exaltation of the Holy Cross!

Numbers 21:4-9; John 3:13-17

“God said to Moses, “Make a snake of fiery copper and put it on a flag pole. Anyone bitten by a snake who, then looked at the copper snake lived.

Our heading tells us that over 500,000 plus people experience homelessness every night. This morning I ran across the street to the hardware store and there were six people sleeping on the street corner. Homelessness is increasing everywhere.

The Feast of the Church yesterday was the Exaltation of the Cross. Whether one is Christian or not the cross can be understood as the suffering of Jesus, for the inability of people to take care of one another. We are called to suffer with others. And each one of us can take care of one of our homeless brothers and sisters in simple acts. One of our simple acts is giving individuals socks.

We have given nearly sixty thousand pairs of socks in the last three years. We could not have done that without the support of Bombas, the company. We are one of their 3500 + National Giving Partners.

Today they are launching its first-ever impact report, which outlines the foundation of its mission and its evolution over the last 9 years.

It highlights how their collaborative infrastructure of giving works and how we who are, one of their 3500 +giving partners are in an alliance of supporting our communities from New York City to Juneau, Alaska.

There is information and a video on (www.beebetter.com) that will share this wonderful work.

Our friend Jeremy, in the photo above, is a representative of the thousands served by @Bombas across the country. Our thanks are given to Bombas for the people they serve across the country and on Haight and Polk Street in San Francisco, CA.

Suffering is a great human equalizer, we all suffer in one way or another–the use of drugs–especially alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana–point to our trying to ease our suffering. We use our work to ease our suffering, productivity, making money, as Fr. Henri Nouwen tells us, all point to our suffering:

When productivity is our main way of overcoming self-doubt, we are extremely vulnerable to rejection and criticism and prone to inner anxiety and depression. Productivity can never give the deep sense of belonging we crave. The more we produce, the more we realize that successes and results cannot give us the experience of “at-homeness.” In fact, our productivity reveals to us that we are driven by fear

The Festival of the Exaltation of the Cross is a reminder that each of us suffers and calls us to share with one another and in so doing our suffering becomes much easier.!

——————

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

.

Live of Chains

September 11, 2022

Lives of Chains!

“It was fitting to celebrate and rejoice, for this your brother was dead and is alive; he was lost and now is found. Luke 15:32.

Last night I watched Lifetime’s movie: “House of Chains,” a graphic movie about child abuse. A leader of a religious cult has a family and keeps his kids chained to their beds, teaching them the world is evil. Once they were rescued it became apparent from the ending that regardless of how much therapy these five young adults would be given, they were wounded for life.

I did not sleep, my own demons haunted me during the night. For I hang and love youth from severely abused homes all the time. I hang out and love adults on the street victims of sexual and emotional abuse as young kids.  I can think of at least thirty who have shared that their lives in their “houses of chains” in the last month.

They run away, turn to drugs, and get hooked up in abusive relationships, each seeking escape from the pain, and the wounds of their first abuse.

The sad reality is the majority will never adjust to what we call a “healthy”, “normal life” if there is such a thing.  I spent an hour with a thirty you old “Jim” on Thursday. His history is that of being sexually abused by both his mother and father from the age of 4 as well as physically abused. He ran away at 13. “Jim” is so torn up emotionally he will never lead what we call a “normal life.”

“Jimmy” lives in an old bus with an abusive girlfriend, has psychotic dreams, and explosive anger, and stays high on pot and LSD all the time. During his early years “Jimmy” was a prostitute, and now sells weed, and steals.

Rather than providing support–places to live, with a harm reduction approach, we housed people for the most part turn our heads. Our lawmakers propose stricter drug laws without seeing the person. There is more stealing in our stores resulting from people not having money for food.

Kaiser publishes patients’ medical and mental health history online,  which I love to read, and at times become depressed, but overall it is interesting. One of my diagnoses is “Severe PTSD”.

In my memory, I return to my childhood. When I was four my mother remarried, and had my dad, sign the adoption papers, with the promise of never seeing me again. It was only five years ago I received a photo of him from probably a cousin (who failed to put their return address on the envelope), the first time I had ever seen his face.

According to a mental health worker many years later I suffer from an attachment disorder, (I love of how these diagnoses are always permanent) which makes it difficult to attach to other people.

The fact is my adoptive father was my dad, he loved me with all of his heart. I could not have had a better childhood. I was able to obtain the best education, four degrees. I had the best of health care, vacations, and most of all non-judging love.

I became a minister in a church that tells us that “homosexuality is an intrinsic evil,” and when I began to come out was sent to therapists who reinforced that–one said, “straight, and only sex with the man on top is the true way” (LOL). Then came the years of prostitution. And from there my healing journey began.

Through the years in San Francisco, I have witnessed killings, deaths in all sorts of horrible circumstances, and much recently one zoon death firsthand. I see violence nearly every other day, sometimes seven days a week.  I can not retreat into Oakland Hills or to San Carlos every night. Violence is real, very real.

The reality is I have always had health insurance, access to good medical care, and mental health treatment. I will always suffer PTSD in one form or another, it is one of the scars of the cross I carry. But I have access to care. I survive and have been able to function well. I have not lived a life in chains, but one growing and caring. Even at my worst, I need no one feeling sorry for me or their sympathy. I have had and continue to have a good and very privileged life unlike too many to count have had.

There is an old Native American saying: “Never judge another person until you have walked a mile in their moccasins,” you see for all our lofty ruminations about God, for all the symphonies and theologies and liturgies for the divine. I have yet to find a more profound expression of God’s nature than the one that begins, “once upon a time, there was a shepherd and a lost sheep.”

God With Us is a marvelous storyteller, for he tells us we are his children and that maybe one percent of the time we get it right, and the other ninety-nine percent God is pure love! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

———————————-

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!”

..