Archive for the ‘religion’ Category

Choose Life

December 16, 2017

Choose Life!

“See I have set before you today life, prosperity, death and adversity.  If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing the commandments and decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live, and become numerous. .I call heaven and earth against you today, that I have set before you blessings and curses. Choose life!”

Several nights ago sixteen year old Shane came to my door. I have spent two weeks feeling guilty because he had put upon snap chat a picture of his cut wrists and disappeared. For two weeks I feared he was dead.  He said, “You pissed at me?” and I looked into the those eyes and said, “No, we are both fuck ups!” I put him on my top bunk, and that night my fever raged, and I woke up with him holding my hand and putting a wet cloth on my head, and saying, “Go back to sleep you are not alone.”

Last night there was a mix up in communication between me and two friends, and I was drinking, and I acted out towards them both displacing my anger.  I was hurt, angry, over a recent rejection, and I lashed out.  I lashed out because I felt safe.One of my friends kept telling me “Stop acting like a fag” and when I would try to leave pushed me down over and over.” At the end of the time he emailed me what a wonderful time that we have had. And during the movie my fever came up, and after the movie, he asked me, “Is your fever down?” And I realized there was very little I could keep from him. Last Christmas he and a friend came by, and another friend stopped by and later commented, “I have never seen you so happy and free.” And I realized I was, because my friend has never judged me, but taken me as I am. He will list for me jokingly things that I have done since I have known him through the years, and I realized he has always seen me for me.

In the last year things have changed, I have made some decisions that have pushed me farther out on the edge, further “outside the gates. And they are decisions I would make again with no regrets.  But with illness and rejection there has come pain that I could never have imagined, and words and Scripture do nothing.

My former teacher Walk Brueggemann writes:

“As long as we try to talk in terms of labels or creeds or mantras, we will never get on the same page. But if we talk about human possibility and human hurt and human suffering, then it doesn’t matter whether we are talking with Muslims or Christians or liberals or conservatives; the irreducible reality of human hurt is undeniable.”

I am a priest because I believe the Church holds the message of hope–but only when it sees hurt as undeniable and outside of creeds and mantras, that constrain and protect us from entering into the suffering of others.

One sixteen year old and two eighteen year old’s have pushed me into choosing life, to grieve, and to move on into what ever God holds for me to do. They have loved me for me, they have allowed me to be me, and that is what I try with all my heart to do–to allow the kids I work with to be themselves. It is painful, scary, but as someone once told me I chose the road less traveled, or shall we say it was offered to me and I chose it willingly and so again I choose it. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164




Mercy and Grace

December 14, 2017

Merciful and Gracious

Psalm 103: 1-4, 8, 10

Since the latter part of October I have been running high fever and losing weight. I have become emotional at times, crying, and there have been so much going on–four deaths, people coming to me under stress, and people not understanding where I come from. During that time four high school students from Marin have walked with me. In the middle of the night as my fever raged and fear comes, I snap chat; one checked on me during the day, and two have walked with me day in and day out. They have done so without judgment. I wonder if we are friends at times,  I doubt, but they still walk. 

They have lived out Psalm 103:

“Bless the Lord, O My soul,

and all that is within me,

bless his holy name.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,

and do not forget all his benefits–

who forgives all your iniquity,

who heals all your diseases,

who redeems your life from the Pit,

who crowns you with steadfast love

and mercy.

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He does not deal with us according to our sins.”

For following God is not about judgment,not about what you believe it is about your actions, and these four have reminded me that it is in our actions that God becomes incarnate in our midst.

So in this second week in Advent I invite you to be kind, to give of yourself, in your actions and allow God to become incarnate in your life.

So thanks Matthew, Ethan, Kevin, and Jacob.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


The Gift and the Tasks

December 12, 2017


Peter Pan

The Gift and the Task


At the end of September a doctoral student finished his dissertation on alternative styles of counseling. One section was entitled,”The Peter Pan Method,” and I was the one he wrote about.  He is soon to publish this in a journal.  This raised many issues for me because he summarized the style as:

“The Peter Pan Method is having the ability to let adolescents enter one’s life without fear, and with equality.  This Method is one in which you become one with them in their world. It is effective because you meet them as equals.”

As I became ill and the fever raged at night I would see myself as never growing up. It was reinforced by adults who would email or say things to me. Their comments of me being “immature”, “a child” hurt, and tore me a part.

I do feel more comfortable in that world, I know it, I understand it, and I feel the loneliness, the pain, that is  a part of that world.

But as I reflect more and more I remember the many I have known,loved, walked with, and buried; I hear from those with kids remembering “hanging with River,” and I realize that this is a gift. A gift that carries with it risk, pain, and rejection; a gift that is life giving. 

It is a task of being faithful to that gift.

In the days before my ordination I was given a lot of psychological tests, and one of the comments was that ministry on the “edge” would be where I would function best.  And that is the way I have chosen to live on the edge. I grow, I change, but in the words of a song from the movie Point Break:

“Life on the edge to I touch the great divide.  I choose to live life on the edge till the day I die.”

This is where I choose to live.  And for me it is the most fulfilling way to live.

J. Philip Newell writes “Redemption is the journey of being reconnected to the light of God within.  It is a journey home that takes us through what seems like unknown land.

Redemption is not the bringing of light to a creation that is essentially dark, but rather the liberating of light from the heart of life.”

So in this New Year as we continue our journey in “liberating of light from the heart of life.” we asked that you join us by your giving from the bottom of your heart.  Ninety eight per cent of your money goes directly to our work.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


December Peniel

December 10, 2017



Journal of An Alien Street Priest

The weather has changed, leaves are falling, and there is a coolness of the Fall and Winter in the air. There have been fires, earthquakes, and war, and much suffering throughout the world. There are thousands on the street. So in all of this what does Advent and Christmas mean?

Advent and Christmas means that God has come into the world in human flesh, and he walks with us and cares for us.  He calls each of us to walk with him and care for one another.

So this year let us move away from social media, let us look people in the eye, and love them inspite opf themselves. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!



Meal will be served at Noon-whenever on Christmas Day!




Sam Portaro writes “To enter Advent we must leave fear for faith.”

Since the early part of October I have ran a fever at night, low grade, chills, and sweating. As the months went along it became worse. My doctor shrugged it off, until the middle of November.  I returned from Amsterdam nearly two weeks ago, frankly overwhelmed with the fever. The past nine days they have ran hundreds of tests on me, some paid for by Kaiser, others from the work I do outside of San Francisco. As I went back and forth to the hospital I would see guys I have known for years, who would get less than a per cent of the care I have received. You see they are not “useful”, where I am “useful,” and where I have been blessed with the ability to raise money and to do work that is apparently is valuable—at least for now. It horrifies me how we place a value on people for what they do, rather than on their humanity.

I have been afraid, still am, and it is in Portaro’s words that “To enter Advent we must leave fear for faith,” and so I move  back into ministry on faith, and fighting fear. It is terrifying for me.  In fact as I have listened to people fear is a prominent part of their lives and that fear results in us lashing out into others who are different from us.

My  best friend  told his mom that the reason he liked having me around was that “He never judges,” and that is the reason I like being around him. In the nearly three years we have known each other, he has never judged me, and that is the greatest gift anyone can give another.  He has never backed away from me, again the greatest gift you can give another.  My buddy has walked with me, pure and simple.  That is the way I try with all of my heart to live my life, “never judging,” for in judging we destroy people.  And I do not back away.

To use Scripture, religious  belief, social media to put forth one’s judgments is destructive, and is a way of covering our own fears. In the last weeks I have let my fear overwhelm me, and I know that I have hurt people, but again all I can do is ask forgiveness and move on. C.S. Lewis tells us: “Forgiving for Christians is a nice concept, until you have to put it into action, and than it becomes nearly  impossible.”  So I expect little, accept from God, because our society never forgives.  I opened my email today and found a death threat from someone because of the young man I work with on death row, for to me he is just a young kid, not the monster as he is portrayed. and it is in loving him as such that the monster will disappear. We need to see the monsters within us, and not  judge others. My monsters are many, and I find in looking them in the face they change into the Risen Christ, and he is the face of love.

And so in the next three weeks and beyond here are some opportunities for you to walk with us in faith:

Christmas Gifts: We are still wrapping Christmas gifts, I am going through my closet to find others, and we have stocking caps to come in. My high school friends have helped me, but now I need someone to spend a day to help me finish this up. I will buy you lunch.  Plan on spending eight hours.


Christmas Day: I will not be cooking meals for several months, until I recover fully, and will focus my time on simply my walking with people; Christmas Day we will have a meal. I plan on serving it from Noon until we are finished which could mean six hours. It is not about the meal, it is about the fellowship. One has no idea how much depression and pain is out there on Christmas Day.  So if you want to help give me a call at 415-305-2124, and we can talk. I need two people. But I want to be very clear, this is about these guys, my energy, my focus, will be totally on them, period.  And I need a couple of people who can focus on carrying the food and gifts until we are done, purely focused on that, entering into the conversations, and putting themselves second. And I will be bluntly honest so just be aware the help is needed, but this time I am not be  trying to introduce people to my ministry or baby them, my expectations is they work. I will not be playing “nice.”

Book Keeping and Taxes: I need someone who can spend a couple of hours a week to help me with book keeping and taxes. As our budget has grown, I have had more difficulty, and right now I am frankly over whelmed, and need someone who is familiar to guide me through this. Not very romantic or exciting, but that is the way 95 per cent of my life is—preparation.



We Are Beggers!

We are beggars and count on your giving! Please give by mailing to:

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

Or through pay pal on






Thank you to all who have given to the foot ball fund of
Terre Linda High School in Matthew Lasky’s name (on the left). Matthew has given to Temenos and been a great friend to me. Thank you!

I have misplaced my I phone. I have another phone but is my private number, and you can email me at this email, or if you want me quickly at Just got my computer back, and looking for phone. Will replace next week if I can not find it.

The Communion of Saints

November 13, 2017

The Communion  of Saints

The past few weeks have been difficult and are still difficult. I have felt like I was in a dodge ball game, dodging multiple balls.  There have been deaths of young guys, one is missing, people are in pain, and than threats against me, and misunderstandings around me. Homelessness is not getting any better, and it is sad and difficult to see people I  care about live like that.

The phrase from the Apostle’s Creed, “he descended into hell,” describes the ministry whose call I have answered and still answer. Jesus entered his own crucifixion out of love for his brothers and sisters. He chose the way of the cross, out of love regardless of their attitude toward him. Each of us in ministry are challenged to do that, and so again I affirm that call. Painful, lonely, yes, but rewarding. I thought about running this week, just saying to hell with it all, just walking away, but two friends of mine, reminded me of a saying: “A friend is one who sees through the act and enjoys the show,” and they have seen through my act, and I believe they enjoy the show–I do theirs.  In my tough times God has always put one or two people to walk with me.  These two have not walked away, and neither will I. They are both 18 but they have more guts than I will ever  have.

And we are surrounded by all the saints:

“The awareness of being part of the communion of saints makes our hearts as wide as the world. The love with which we love is not just our love; it is the love of Jesus and his saints living in us. When the Spirit of Jesus lives in our hearts, all who have lived their lives in that Spirit live there too. Our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents; our teachers and their teachers; our pastors and their pastors; our spiritual guides and theirs – all the holy men and women who form that long line of love through history – are part of our hearts, where the Spirit of Jesus chooses to dwell.
The communion of saints is not just a network of connections between people. It is first and foremost the community of our hearts. Henri Nouwen”

Around us we are surrounded by social media and twenty four hour news. Much is gossip, much is take out of context, and causes much pain. I have experienced that this week. Rather than talking to me I have been talked around, and that is the most destructive element in our social media age. Face to face contact is crucial in any relationship. I am learning to live in this time, but it is difficult.  I spend half my time on snap chat wondering if I am saying things correctly. We need to talk to each other, to interact.

We have two meals on Tuesday, one in the Haight and one at St. Boniface Shelter. I need some volunteers to help with preparation from 10 a.m.-2:00 p.m. and two volunteers to serve at St. Boniface that night from 6:00 p.m. until 8:30 pm. If you are interested please call me at 415-305-2124.

Come and enjoy the show!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164




November 3, 2017
“Where Jacob Wrestled With God”
Temenos Catholic Worker
November, 2017
Fr. River Damien Sims, Director

Journal of An Alien Street Priest
In the last month I have asked a question of a number of street youth, “What are you thankful for?” The answer almost to a one was “my friends, they are always there to support me.”
Each of these guys basically have the clothes they are wearing, their sleeping bags; they are pushed around by people on the street, the police, and are treated as if they are no bodies. Yet they are thankful for their friends.
In this age of social media much of our contact is on line. We do not hear a voice, we do not hear someone tell us that they care, we are detached from the human contact. People hurt, they cry,they feel very much alone.
This holiday season let us reconnect with people.Let us pick up our phones and call and chat; let us move out on the streets and look a homeless person in the eye, feed them, care for them, and connect as one human being to another.
Steve Wentworth wrote:
“Some of the most generous people,
have no money. Some of the wisest people have no education.Some of the kindest people were hurt the most.”
During this season let us reflect on that quote, and open our hearts to one another.
Spiritus! Creator Spirit!
Thanksgiving Meals
November 21: Homeless Shelter, St. Boniface Church, Golden Gate Avenue–6:00 p.m.
Meal on Polk and Haight Street will be served at Noon.  Want to help call 415-305-2124.
Thank You

Recently I sent an email out to many of you asking you to donate to the foot ball team of Matthew Lasky. We have been very successful thanks to you, and for that I thank you and Matthew thanks you. Several have asked me “Why this particular young man, you have never done that before?  It is pretty simple Matt has been a volunteer for over two years, and many of the guys love him dearly; He has been my very good friend in the ups and downs of life.  So this was my way of showing appreciation. Thank you for giving, and for your trust in both of us.
We Are Beggars!
We are beggars! We take no grants, but rely on your generosity and your care! We have never gone with out, always have what we need! And so we beg at this time of year you give from the bottom of your heart to those who have so little, who come to us for socks and food, and pastoral care.  You may give by mailing a check to:
Temenos Catholic Worker
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164
or through pay pal which you can find on the website at
Thank you!
Happy Thanksgiving!
Fr. River Damien

In Memory of Rio

October 31, 2017

In Memory of Rio

The ghosts, and all sorts of creatures are roaming tonight. Our right wing friends want to cut off their believers from participating because of the presence of “evil”, well my friends evil is present, it looks you in the face, and Halloween allows us to express our fears around evil and death. For in our hiding–we separate ourselves from our humanity, and become a ghost. We can not hide.

 Last night a few years ago my friend Rio accidentally over dosed on heroin at the Viper Room in L.A., or was it just one tormented journey to that end.  He was an actor, a hell of a fun kid, an excellent friend, and a kid who was tormented by sexual abuse as a prepubescent kid. Abuse  done in the name of God.  He could never come to terms with the Divine, always a question, always being sought after, and yet so much pain because of those early memories.

I remember the night we sat in IHOP in Hollywood, after 3 a.m., me I had finished a night of whoring, him, partying and drinking.  His mood turned dark suddenly, and he challenged me to go back to ministry. Rio left, I never saw him again because he was dead soon. But those eyes, their darkness, pierced my very being, and in the next few days I wrote this piece that has been my Affirmation of Faith:

“The best summary for my mission in life can be found in the statement that “Obedience to Christ does not consist in engaging in propaganda, nor even in stirring people up, but in being a living mystery.  It means to live in such a way that one’s life would not make sense if God did not exist. To be a living mystery means to practice the works of mercy or in the words of Dorothy Day, “To love to the point of folly.”

This has never changed as I fought, and clawed my way out of prostitution, and into ministry.  People say I make it seem easy to do ministry and raise money–never, never! 

This is still the statement I live by:

The reason I loved Rio was because he did not see me as a whore, simply as his friend, and I saw him only as my friend.  There was never any judgment. I can put on quite a show, but when you get down to it I am a fuck up, I own that, more and more, I can not hide that.

As I put this on Facebook I really hate it, because I will get responses of sympathy etc, and the truth is “no thank you.”Don’t dishonor Rio, and do not make me feel like I need to coddled, by a computer message, that is cold, and painful.  I want a response action. I would like to see some given to people outside our doors–not words.

The only response I want  is for people to love each other without the boundaries of fear they put around themselves. I often joke that I moved from being a whore to a priest–and priest’s have worse reputation than whores, these days, so I did not improve my reputation very much. Titles, all ultimately hide who we are, they separate us from people.  So fuck the titles!

The only response I want is for people to stop judging, and  start caring for people who are on the street. There are so many reasons they are homeless–family, psychological issues, and than all they have left is PTSD and drugs; lazy– most of my kids want to earn their way, but not in the traditional ways. We live in a place where you have to be rich to live here now.  We are nothing  accept how much we have–all vanity of vanities. The Bible tells the stories from the beginning of time of how our desire for material goods without love of humanity destroys us.  We need to see our humanity. We are all different. Sorry we are fucked up humans–every last one of us, some of us can manage a little better than others, but what we can do is love one another, and help each other having their basic needs met.

For me God is that presence that calls us to love each other, to care for each other, without judgment, to lift each other up. I have no idea if there is a life after death–frankly I do not care-this one is bad enough, what I care about is the person in front of me who needs care. 

  The God that destroyed Rio was the one of judgment, the one used by men to meet their most evil desires, this is the God that is always named in so many names in the military might around the world, this is the God our government uses to justify its military aims, this is the God people who  come out on the streets to proclaim–to save their soul–and than they move onto their nice warm homes and nice meals–Oh what a god! This is the idol!

For me if there is a God he can only be found as the

One who  redeems us in all of our fullness and expresses that fullness in the words:  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

I have tried, I have given all that I am and now I call you to try to love your neighbor, to meet those in the tents in our City and across the country, in the Park, in the Alleys, and give them love, give them housing, give them mental health care, give them the food that is needed. Give of your humanity to people.!

My brother and  Rio sent me on this crazy, fucking, wild journey, the two I felt the most accepted and loved by in all the world,  and never  showed me judgment, and so Rio I honor you and thank you.!


River Sims

Temenos Catholic Worker


On the Edge

October 20, 2017

On the Edge

These last few weeks I have felt like I am toppling off the edge into nothingness.  The names that I have been called on social media–“nigger lover,” white southern trash,” mother fucker, pig, sycophant, “you are not a priest, you are fake,” and so on; have shaken me, shaken me to the core, there are nights I can not sleep. My ministry is questioned, with some of the most painful comments. I have had three whom I thought were close friends pull away completely with a letter or email. No talking, no discussion, just a letter or email. What I did–still unclear about–or is it simply misunderstanding–we will never know.  I have been having a lot of threats made on me lately.

First of all I am grateful. By all rational I should not be here, and having a great life.  By all reason I should have died along time ago on the streets, broke, without a place to live. So I am grateful to have been given this life, grateful for those who have supported me, for those who hate me, for those who do not give a damn.  I am grateful. All of you have given me the greatest gift in the world–ministry to street kids. Your love empowers me, your anger, dislike, hatred, makes me look at myself, and your indifference reminds me to put my feet to the ground.

I am grateful for the God who drives me in ministry, who will not let go of me, but keeps driving me in season and out of season, and grateful for my street kids.

But now I need to withdraw from blogging, from face book, and all the other places I post,  I first of all need to focus on ministry between now and January, the most difficult time of the year for people on the street. All my attention and my time will be given to them;

Secondly, I need to pull away from constant criticism on social media, and email. I need to look myself in the face and get back to me, without looking at what other people think or say. I hear enough, I am threatened, enough on the streets, than to come home to a computer full of stuff, it upsets me, I feel like I have no friends, it scares me, makes me feel totally alone–so no more, and I will not answer emails or texts with such stuff, primarily because I respond in such hurt that I say things I regret, and because if you can not face me, it is not worth it. You want to criticize me pick up your phone and call me–24 hours a day; I have a seventeen year old friend who a couple months ago  was making smart ass remarks, and I lost it with him, so we sat down–the reality is he called me on my stuff, and I called him on his and neither one of us had it right, so in talking we came out of it laughing. We have to talk to one another.

Thirdly, I have been told that I lie about the way I live my life–the reality is I move in different worlds, worlds that have there own way of looking at life; I listen to punk, symphony, opera, rap, hard rock, depending on whom I am with for example,  I skate, I surf, I sit in  homes, and on the street– all that means is that I live in those worlds; and at the heart of what I believe is that we love God, and our neighbor.  I was once told that my greatest gift is that I can enter into the world of others, be with them, and that is my greatest gift. So you can say what you want–I don’t lie about  who I am; I am comfortable wherever I am;

Through the years people have told me there is a “fire”, a determination within my eyes, that scares them. One person told me “you are a stones throw away from death. We all are, pure and simple, but I see it more directly. This path I have chosen is the cross given to me. I will walk this path until the end. Being a believer does not protect you from life, it strengthens you, it gives you hope, and for me it is heeding the call of giving everything away.  I believe Jesus is my friend, and he calls us to love every one without respect to age, nationality, sexual orientation, or any other boundary we put on people to protect ourselves. You can quote all the Scripture, you can give me your opinion, but the reality this is the way I experience God–all loving, not judgmental.   I have seen people hurt who come as interns, who come to volunteer, because they are afraid, and that is all on me–for not understanding that the way I work and the people I serve are difficult. I am damn difficult, I am different, I own that– I am all the names I am called, but I try, I try to love with all my heart.

Social media, and all its variations are good, but the negative is in that it isolates us from the reality of every day living, prevents us from talking. I have two or three friends I talk on Snap Chat with  all hours of the day and night,I love it, I do not feel alone, but I also hang out with them and we talk on the phone. They complement each other.

So for now I will not be blogging and I beg you to watch your words that your use on social media, and in your snail mail–they hurt, and they can destroy..

May the Lord, bless you and keep you. May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and give you peace, now and forever more. Amen.

Creator Spiritus! Creator Spirit!


River Sims

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Positive Outcomes

October 18, 2017


Feast of St. Luke

Luke 4:1-9

There is great irony in the New Testament use of the term “gospel”; the fearful might of worldly empire gives way to the victory of healing, and love of divine mercy. There is a price we pay for this message, for when we  experience the words of the gospel as hard as a diamond our lives are changed into the freshness of a child, and a child lives dangerously.

At times when I experience depression, I am simply going through a dark night of the soul in the midst of a world that offers little hope, and in that dark night of the soul, the positive outcome a therapist friend talks about becomes being pierced by the hardness of the diamond and seeing the face of Christ.

Herman Hesse wrote:

If my life were not a dangerous, painful experiment, if I did not constantly skirt the abyss and feel the void under my feet, my life would have no meaning and I would not have been able to write anything.
We have no choice about physical death–we all die–but dying in life, we do have a choice. And in so doing we find the resurrection.
Living dangerously for me is meeting people where they are, entering into the pain of their lives, and becoming one with them in that pain. In walking on that abyss one finds the Risen Christ!
Creator Spiritus! Creator Spirit!
River Sims
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164

Tainted and Broken Vessels

October 17, 2017

Tainted And Broken Vessels

Luke 11:37-41″Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and platters, but your insides are stuffed with greed and wickedness. Foolish people! Didn’t the one who made the outside also make the inside? Therefore give to those in need from the core of who you are and you will be clean all over.”

I sit here crying, just crying, this morning. I realize I really do not belong any where–because the boundaries of age, religion, money, none of that matters to me, not the least at all, I frankly do not give a damn. I care about people. I sit here crying because I am afraid of being alone, and I yet I know we are born alone, and will die alone.  No one answers their phone, they text, email, hide behind their computers. I have a friend who has told me to call if I am sick, I have–no return calls, so I gave up, frankly they are too busy with their lives any way.  I get in a taxi and go to the hospital.

A prospective seminary intern called me “projecting” her fears of working with “those people,” and I responded bluntly, “I can not accept you, because “those people,” are my friends, and “those people are me.”

For God is found in our love for one another, pure and simple. If there is a heaven, an after life, we judge ourselves on the way we love one another, not God. We bring judgment on ourselves. It does not matter whether we or Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, or anything–all is based on love.  I tell people if you “want to be saved,” than love your neighbor, period, for that is where you find God. I am asking some of the kids on the Haight for a question for the Thanksgiving newsletter, “What are you thankful for?” And their answer almost to a one is:”My friends, who are always there when I need them.” They have absolutely nothing, they are ignored, and hated, and yet see the value in relationships.

Last night around 9 my friend, Sebastien, who is 18, just out of high school, working in a pizza restaurant, and not sure where he is going came by. His parents are successful and are angry because he does not want to go to college. He was headed out with friends in the neighborhood. He took one look at me, and said, “I am spending the night,” I told him “no” and he put his hand on my shoulder and said, “River, fuck, stop trying to cover things up, you love me no matter what a bastard I am, and I am staying.” He stayed.

Night before last I left a friend’s house knowing I was getting sick. I did not tell him, because I was afraid of what he would think,  and he thought I was upset with him, the one person I never get upset with, in the years I have known him, I have never been upset with him. I could not simply be honest, I was afraid.

The young guy who tried to stab me last year broke down Monday afternoon,  and said, “You are the only friend I have,” and I thought, “Two fuck ups, two of a kind.”

I have given Christmas gifts early to a good friend because I have had this fear I will not be here for Christmas.  The angel of death, depression, flutters around me. Right or wrong I just wanted to express my love early. 

What I know is that we are born and have encountered that love, beyond love, at one time or another, and seek it all of our lives. We let our fears get in the way, and those fears lead us to all sorts of destructiveness. For I believe that all of us, at our very heart were born to love, to care, but have been tarnished and blackened by sin, for sin means “missing the mark” –we have missed the mark of loving and caring for one another. We have missed the mark of opening our lives and letting our brothers and sisters suffer violence in our name, die on the streets, and die alone. 

Right now I feel broken, very broken, very much alone, I am crying, and I wonder why go on, why continue to live, for I have failed in life’s  ways, and yet I imagine Jesus telling us in today’s Gospel, “I want vessels that know by whom and for whom they’ve been made.” For when we can comprehend that we’ve been made by God and are called to serve all of creation we are complete. In humiliation, in our own brokenness we recognize that God is God and we are not.

People ask me for advice, to preach and help people “find Jesus”, to show people how to love, I was recently asked to teach a class on how to be compassionate–I laughed my ass off–well fuck that, I have nothing to offer. I have no words of wisdom. I am not very good at loving or being compassionate, my titles, my degrees, are all empty cisterns of someone trying to pretend, so fuck that.

Suicide and choosing to die, is never an option because I am not God, that is God’s decision.  I have gotten five college degrees, I have tried to have the right friends, and all too no avail, because I have no words of wisdom, nothing to offer,I am a fuck up, I admit it,   but what I can do is to continue to try my damn-est and to attempt to love each person that comes my way.  And when I enter that Great Cloud of Witnesses, my hope, and I hope that I will hear the words “Well done, my good and faithful  servant.” 

Creator Spiritus! Come, Creator Spirit!


River Sims

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164