God Lurks in the Gaps

November 24, 2019

Father River Damien Sims

A Thanksgiving Love Note

God Lurks In the Gaps

    Last night I sat with five of my friends, around their campfire, in Golden Gate Park. “Ghost”, 17, a kid whose parents kicked him out on the streets when he was 13, homeless, living day to day, and  in remission of leukemia, commented: “All we have is gratitude.”

    Fr. Richard Rhor expands on Ghost’s comment:

“Brothers and sisters, you and I don’t “deserve” anything, anything. It’s all a gift. But until we begin to live in the kingdom of God instead of the kingdoms of this world, we think, as most Christians do, exactly like the world. We like the world of seemingly logical equations. Basically, to understand the Gospel in its purity and in its transformative power, we have to stop counting, measuring, and weighing. We have to stop saying “I deserve” and deciding who does not deserve. None of us “deserve”! Can we do that? It’s pretty hard . . . unless we’ve experienced infinite mercy and realize that it’s all a gift”

   Jorge Luis Borgues  further suggests: “The future is inevitable and precise, but it may not occur, God lurks in the gaps.”

    What I have found is that when we eliminate, or at least face our various fears, of age, racism, homelessness, etc,  we find like Dr. Louise Aronson:

“I have begun to think of labels in this way: it is as of child, adult, and elder. These are the primary colors, like red, blue and yellow, and all its sub-stages are derived from those three fundamental colors, just as all colors are,” and in doing so we experience the love of God in all of its fullness, and out of gratitude take care of all of our brothers and sisters.

    So I wish you a Happy and Peaceful Thanksgiving! And I pray each of you can  God “lurking in the gaps”!

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

Relational Reality a book review

November 21, 2019

Relational Reality

by Le Baily Boyston

“Most of us live a life wrapped in a subjective fiction we call “our reality”. This book is grounded in applicable behavioral skills proven over thousands of years. In this post modern age there has never been a more important ether to objective truth. Never has there been a time when connections to objective reality has been needed more. These rules for relationships have lasted literally thousands of years and brought about civilization as we know it. We stand on the threshold of losing the very truths of intimate relationships into a morass of confusion.”

Boydston seeks to approach relationships in a logical, rational manner, appealing to those in the field of science and with out a foundation of spirituality.  His book can be summed up by Jesus in these words, “Thou salt love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.”

His book is dry, rational, and fails to touch on the reality of entering into relationships in a personal way. His book does not see the grey areas of life.

The book does not touch on a relationship with the Divine, but places everything in the rational context.

Frankly, I found the book unappealing, boring, and no  attempt to apply his tenants to real life. On a scale of ten I rate the book 3.

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

A Book Review–Relational Reality

November 21, 2019

Relational Reality

by Le Baily Boyston

“Most of us live a life wrapped in a subjective fiction we call “our reality”. This book is grounded in applicable behavioral skills proven over thousands of years. In this post modern age there has never been a more important ether to objective truth. Never has there been a time when connections to objective reality has been needed more. These rules for relationships have lasted literally thousands of years and brought about civilization as we know it. We stand on the threshold of losing the very truths of intimate relationships into a morass of confusion.”

Boydston seeks to approach relationships in a logical, rational manner, appealing to those in the field of science and with out a foundation of spirituality.  His book can be summed up by Jesus in these words, “Thou salt love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.”

His book is dry, rational, and fails to touch on the reality of entering into relationships in a personal way. His book does not see the grey areas of life.

The book does not touch on a relationship with the Divine, but places everything in the rational context.

Frankly, I found the book unappealing, boring, and no  attempt to apply his tenants to real life. On a scale of ten I rate the book 3.

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos

The Strength of the Link

November 20, 2019

In the midst of  Impeachment Hearings, the division of politics, and the various interpretation of Christian values, Fr. Richard Rhor summarizes the heart of the Gospel Message in the following:

 

The Strength of the Link
Wednesday, November 20, 2019

 

 

I have long admired the work of Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister and was delighted to see her again at Oprah Winfrey’s house earlier this year when we were both filming episodes for SuperSoul Sunday. Who could have ever predicted it? Two vowed religious, neither of us youngsters, sitting on Oprah’s lawn and speaking about our newly published books. [1] I am sure neither of us saw that coming, which is perhaps what gives Sister Joan the freedom to speak so courageously and prophetically about our Christian obligation in politics.

In every life there is a crossover moment, after which a person will never be the same again. Somewhere, somehow the challenge comes that sets us on a different path: the path of purpose, the path of integrity, the path of transcendence that lifts us—heart, mind, and soul—above the pitiable level of the comfortable and the mundane.

It is the moment at which transcending the mediocre, the conventional, the pedestrian, becomes more impacting, more holy-making than any amount of beige-colored political success.

As a culture, we may have come to that point. As a people, we are at a crossover moment. It is a call to all of us to be our best, our least superficial, our most serious about what it means to be a Christian as well as a citizen.

So, where can we look for oneing in the political arena? Only within the confines of our own hearts. Politics—government—does not exist for itself and, if it does, that is precisely when it becomes at least death-dealing if not entirely evil. Nation-states and empires have all “died the death” in the wake of such power run amuck, of such distortion of human community.

In the end, politics is nothing more than an instrument of social good and human development. It is meant to be the right arm of those whose souls have melted into God. It is to be the living breath of those who say they are religious people and patriotic citizens—a link to personal faith.

The democratic system, as originally conceived, upholds a vision that links “care for widows and children” with a commitment to provide food stamps and a living wage for families under stress.

It embodies the soul of a nation that considers the right to breathe clean air and drink clean water, to save wetlands and reduce fossil fuels, to be a responsibility of America’s own Environmental Protection Agency.

It includes the love for all of God’s creation that links Jesus’ cure of Jairus’ daughter (see Matthew 9:18-25) and the man born blind (see John 9) with the moral obligation to provide healthcare and social services to all of us, not simply to some.

It embraces the courage of the Samaritan to reach out to the foreigner (Luke 10:25-37) that made this country open arms toward an immigrant world.

In fact, it is the strength of the link between religion and politics that will determine both the quality of our politics and the authenticity of our religion.

Many in the United States claim we are a Christian nation, but if we are to call ourselves such, we must sustain a sincere connection between our Gospel values and the political choices we make. We cannot declare we are one body and then neglect to give that body the care it needs, including food, water, and shelter.

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

 

Radical Listening

November 18, 2019


Radical Listening

I Maccabees 3:1-24; Matthew 17:1-13

Through  the years I am asked, “Tell us a story of success?’ “How many people have you helped?” Grants require numbers to be given. We get no grants. Success is determined by numbers.

    Two thoughts:

    First this past week I have been threatened both physically, and verbally using the internet as a tool.; I texted two friends, one an attorney, and not one word back; I tried to contact others, not one word back; I sit here in fear, in emotional pain; And felt totally, and I mean totally alone. Two people sensed the pain and responded, one 17, and the other 20. Of course those who needed to talk, of their pain, kept calling and coming by–a number not homeless–they needed someone to listen.

    Our social media world, our world of political divisiveness has created an age of uncaring, and of not being present to people. It is about money, prestige, and focused on those who make the money, have the money, the prestige, and youth.

    As a child and adolescent I was raised by a village of caring people, who practiced radical listening. My ministry is one of radical listening–I no longer take volunteers on the street, mostly because they can not listen, they simply do not see the value in listening. They fig-it go into stores, wander off, tug at my shoulders to move faster.

    Elizabeth Gilbert wrote: “You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.” We need to dedicate our selves to the path of radical listening–to move our eyes off of our small screens, into the faces of people who have flesh and blood, are dirty, rude, and mean, and listen, and see them respond in love and caring.

    Secondly our scripture from I Maccabees tells of the persecution of the Jews because they refused an order by the State to also worship the state gods.

    There was a young woman who called me crying, because she was a Muslim, and was told she could not enter a place to receive food unless she took off her head scarf; some countries are now requiring that. Many years ago in my first job in California I was told to remove the cross I wear, it might offend someone, I refused. The State, nor no other organizations has no right to violate a person’s religious practice. shows prejudice, and is demeaning. I know, I am judged for being a priest all the time, for the way a minority have acted. People fail to see the good that the majority of clergy actually do. People fail to see the good the majority of each religious practice does.

    This too stems from our lack of face to face communication. We allow our fears, to determine the way we treat people, and in so doing isolate us from others.

    Fr. Henri Nouwen hits the nail on the head when he writes:

“The first questions are not “How much do we do?” or “How many people do we help out?” but “Are we interior-ly at peace?” . . . Jesus’ actions flowed from his interior communion with God. His presence was healing, and it changed the world. In a sense he didn’t do anything! “Everyone who touched him was healed” (Mark 6:56). . . .

When we love God with all our heart, mind, strength, and soul, we cannot do other than love our neighbor, and our very selves. It is in being fully rooted in the heart of God that we are creatively connected with our neighbor as well as with our deepest self. In the heart of God we can see that the other human beings who live on this earth with us are also God’s sons and daughters, and belong to the same family we do. There, too, I can recognize and claim my own beloved-ness, and celebrate with my neighbors.

Our society thinks economically: “How much love do I give to God, how much to my neighbor, and how much to myself?” But God says, “Give all your love to me, and I will give to you, your neighbor, and yourself.”

We are not talking here about moral obligations or ethical imperatives. We are talking about the mystical life. It is the intimate communion with God that reveals to us how to live in the world and act in God’s Name.”

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

Like Sands Through the Hour Glass

November 17, 2019

“Like Sands Through the Hour Glass, So Are the Days of our Lives”

Luke 21:5-38 English Standard Version (ESV)

Jesus Foretells Destruction of the Temple

And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” And they asked him, “Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” And he said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once.”

Jesus Foretells Wars and Persecution

10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. 12 But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. 13 This will be your opportunity to bear witness. 14 Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers[a] and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. 17 You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your lives.

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    Through out my college and both my seminary careers (M.Div, and D.Min.) my fellow students and I would at the noon hour watch “Days of Our Lives, ” and hear the words in the opening: .“Like sands through the hourglass… so are the Days of Our Lives.” .

    Our Scripture calls us to look at our lives on this final Sunday of Ordinary time, and the words of  Jesus , remind us “Like sands through the hourglass… so are the Days of Our Lives. calling  us to gain our lives by endurance, being faithful to the Gospel of love.

    I know the days of my life are draining , to the lower end of the hour glass,  the last few months I  found myself wondering how many more new calendars I will  break in, how much longer my health will hold out; or when someone will  end my life.

    And the words of Teresa of Avila bring  hope:

“Don’t be afraid that the Lord will leave you to die  of thirst for he calls us to drink from this fount. .But it is a great thing to have experienced the friendship and favor He shows toward those who journey on this road and how He takes care of almost all the expenses.”

And so “All my bags are packed I’m ready to go:

Leaving on a Jet Plane—My Bags are Packed-John Denver

All my bags are packed I’m ready to go
I’m standin’ here outside your door
I hate to wake you up to say goodbye
But the dawn is breakin’ it’s early morn
The taxi’s waitin’ he’s blowin’ his horn
Already I’m so lonesome I could die

So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you’ll wait for me
Hold me like you’ll never let me go
Cause I’m leavin’ on a jet plane
Don’t know when I’ll be back again
Oh baby, I hate to go

There’s so many times I’ve let you down
So many times I’ve played around
I tell you now, they don’t mean a thing
Every place I go, I’ll think of you
Every song I sing, I’ll sing for you
When I come back, I’ll bring your wedding ring

So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you’ll wait for me
Hold me like you’ll never let me go
Cause I’m leavin’ on a jet plane
Don’t know when I’ll be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

Now the time has come to leave you
One more time let me kiss you
Close your eyes I’ll be on my way
Dream about the days to come
When I won’t have to leave alone
About the times, I won’t have to say

So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you’ll wait for me
Hold me like you’ll never let me go
Cause I’m leavin’ on a jet plane
Don’t know when I’ll be back again
Oh baby, I hate to go

Cause I’m leavin’ on a jet plane
Don’t know when I’ll be back again
Oh baby, I hate to go

By your endurance you will gain your lives. 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

Spying In our Restrooms for Securities Sake

November 16, 2019

Spying In Our Restrooms–For Securities Sake!

I Maccabees 2:1-28. Matthew 16:21-28

    A friend, who is in his thirties, and I were talking about Halloween in Sebastopal, when he was thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen, and how we would go and toilet paper trees, and get chased by whomever. I told him those days were over, because every house had security cameras,  and he replied, “River we can wear masks, and it will be a hell of a lot more fun.” LoL! Of course I was simply his chaperone offering prayers along the way!

    Two days go I went to the rest room in a cafe in the Haight,and when washing my hands I looked up and saw a camera over the door. I thought, “What the f. .. .k?” and asked at the counter, and was told, and I can almost quote: “We are afraid of the homeless, and possible people with weapons, but please know the camera does not look into the stalls or the urinals.” At least not yet!

    Our fears have compelled us to place cameras in Golden Gate Park, around our churches, our streets, and our homes. Orwell’s “1984” is a reality.

    Someone hacked my computer, and took one my photos, and added some compromising ones, that are not mind, and called and said if I gave them a thousand dollars they would not publish them–I said, “Go straight to h. .” And I have been in a deep depression ever  since, feeling afraid, threatened, and unsafe. I called my attorney and no response, I called friends, no response. I felt so alone.

    We live in a time when we truly have no support emotionally, spiritually, or physically. In our cyber world we are losing our humanness. We let our governments impose fear of the other on us.

    Through all of this  the words of Jesus, “Love your neighbor” as yourself become more real. One can see his face as he looks upon us, and loves us as we place nails in his hands, and calls us to “Love our neighbor as ourselves.”

    I have seen the non-violent approach of love change lives throughout my ministry. The man who murdered my son’s  changed, and changed life  as I held his hands, gave him the Sacrament of Reconciliation  as  he was dying; people who have railed against me as I stand in silent protest against the death penalty have come back to talk, and in our differences, become friends.

    People rail against the Church, against Christianity, and we look at the differences in those who practice the Christian faith,  care for the homeless, the aged, the broken–places like The Gubbio Project, in San Francisco are examples of the Church treating people as individuals created with the image of God within them, while our government agencies seek to get them out of sight.The Church at its best, Christians at their best humanize people recognizing we all have the image of God within us. That all of us carry goodness. That we should walk with people, for the day will come when we too will need to be walked with.

    So for me and my house, we will continue to hang with those that are “the undesirables”, the thieves, the murderers, and will continue to stand in non-violent protest against injustice.

Fr. Henri Nouwen says it best:

“God’s question is: “Are you reading the signs of your time as signs asking you to repent and be converted?” What really counts is our willingness to let the immense sufferings of our brothers and sisters free us from all arrogance and from all judgments and condemnations and give us a heart as gentle and humble as the heart of Jesus.”

And if we ever toilet paper trees again we will wear masks–it will be more fun, and we will not darken the door  any place that has cameras in their restrooms, I am even leery about darkening church doors with the same–god that is dehumanizing. 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

415-305-2124

The Cost of Looking Back

November 15, 2019

The Cost of Looking Back

Luke 17:26-37 English Standard Version (ESV)

2Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— 30 so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. 34 I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. 35 There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.”[a] 37 And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse[b] is, there the vultures[c] will gather.”

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    Jesus tells his followers not to look back. But he does not take his own advice, does he? Jesus was liberated from the chains of this world, free to resume his heavenly reign. But even as he resolutely journeyed toward Jerusalem and the cross, Jesus looked back, refusing to leave us behind. Jesus longs to be with one with us, no matter the cost. He calls us to do the same–to look back, never to give up on one another, regardless of  the cost.

    Our photo today is my 25th Anniversary Bible,signed by my friends through the years. There are the wealthiest, the poorest, the most rejected–two–one on death row, and another  serving a life sentence, Republicans, Democrats, believers, atheist’s, and of different colors, a rainbow of friends and colleagues. 

    One signature is the mother of a young man, murdered. We met as I stood outside of the Federal Building silently protesting the death penalty. She has cussed me, screamed at me, and now we are friends–mutually disagreeing .

    When people tell me that I pay to high of a cost for my work–I look at this Bible, and know what it means when I reword the saying of St. Francis, “Preach the Gospel as little as possible, but always care, without judgment and  regardless of the cost.” It has all been well worth it.

    In her book Elderhood, Dr. Louise Aronson, describes Old Age, as a time of embracing the gift of life, the third stage of life, and of seeing it as a time of simply evolving in our caring for others. Her approach contradicts the saying “Old age “Aint t for Sissies”, as to be dreaded, but to be embraced as our  final gift. That is the goal I am struggling with, and I look to many who have signed my Bible, to lead me into that gift.

    For when we never give up on one another, we have a community of all ages and are never alone. 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

415-305-2124

 

New Life

November 14, 2019

 

NEW LIFE

NEW LIFE

Psalm 23

Sergel Nikolaevich Bulgakove writes: “The Church of Christ is not an institution, it is a new life with Christ and in Christ guided by the Holy Spirit.”

In my anniversary Bible I have a hundred or so signatures of those who are “Church” , and only around ten or so belong to the institutional church. In fact  a number of people who attended my anniversary event had not darkened door of the institutional church in years, and they avoid those  doors as if they were rattle snakes. One said to me as she was leaving, “Only out of my deep respect for you did I come tonight.”

The institutional church kicked me out when I simply questioned  my sexuality, some hundred of my so called clergy friends literally turned their backs on me,  and I came back kicking and screaming because God made sure to continually remind me that my call to ministry was in my mom’s womb, not dictated by an institution. 

I became a whore in rebellion, I did things I would never have thought I would do,  and yet, God pushed me back. I love the Church with all of my heart, and I hear the words of Dorothy Day: “The Church is both our mother and  a whore.” I have had only three clergy friends in all of these years, because I scare others. And it is not their fault totally, I speak my peace, I look weird, and I hang out with a group of kids that no none wants around.

When I was sick last year one clergy, who did not know me, but who  by assumption , kept me at a distance from the church I associate with, and several of its members assisted me “undercover”,  helping me, and the successor has done everything in her power to make me comfortable again, but the pain from that time lingers, I am always on edge, so trust the institution–I do not,  the body of Christ are  those who feed the hungry, take care of the sick and afflicted etc, that is the Church.

I baptized and  confirmed five young men and women two weeks ago in Golden Gate Park. Not one of them feel welcome in the institutional church, but  wanted baptism and confirmation. They are a part of the younger group who see being the church out side of the institution.

I am reading a book entitled Elderhood by Dr. Louise Aronson, in which she describes the discrimination against people as they age, and the elderly. Her thesis is that artificial boundaries are placed on aging, and as a result people are pushed aside, and seen as not useful, and medical treatment discriminates.

The former Mayor of Chicago wrote a thesis which in which he  suggests  that medical treatment for people over 70 should be simply to keep them comfortable, since we have to many elderly people. My question to him is: “When you get 70, what will you say then?’ My hunch is the age will be moved up until at least 80, and if he is successful in reaching 80–to one hundred. As for me I am planning to live until I am a thousand, and not have a gray hair on my head.

We label people because of our fears, and not understanding them. People are always surprised when they hear me preach, or see the liturgies I use–I am very orthodox, in fact evangelical, but judge me by my appearance,  and in so doing we limit ourselves, and close the doors to real caring and understanding.

A few days after my surgery I had a donor say to me: “Why do you have seventeen and eighteen year olds caring for you?” and I replied dead pan to her email with the words, “Well you want to come in an help me in a more mature way?” I did not hear from this person again until I was well. It was my seventeen and eighteen year old friends who frankly saved me. Maturity? Maturity is in how we care for another. Those guys cared for me from the bottom of their heart, without being asked–that is real maturity.

I  never tell  my age because people  make judgments, in court, to newspapers, I always age myself by 20-30  years, and enjoy the humor,  and when I am carried into St. Luke’s, and placed into my burial spot the only labels  I want on my  plaque are  “A priest in the Order of Melchizedek”, and the date of my death. Two labels–Christian and priest, are the two by which I name myself. All else do not matter.  Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

“In the Gospels, Jesus speaks poignantly about our welcoming the stranger. Jesus’ generous welcome to everyone is remembered in the Greek as philonexia, which is “the love of strangers.” Philonexia becomes the New Testament norm for hospitality. We must welcome the stranger so that the stranger is no longer strange to us.”

-Br. Curtis Almquist

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

The Drums Are Beating!

November 13, 2019

The Drums Are Beating Around Us!

“Then a mighty angel took a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying,  ‘So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence and will be no more and the sound of harpists and musicians, of flute players, and trumpeters, will be heard in you no more, and a craftsman of any craft will be found in you no more,  and the sound of the mill will be heard in  you no more, and the light of a lamp will shine in you no more, for your merchants were the great ones of the earth, and all nations were deceived by your sorcery. And in her was found the blood of the prophets and the saints, and of all who have been slain on earth.” Revelation 18:21-24

The drums are beating around us, if we only but listen. If we turn our ears away from our fears, our judgments, we can hear the drums.  The drums of warning, and the drums of hope in the resurrection.

The past few weeks I wake up in the middle of the night and can not sleep.  I hear the drums of those I saw suffering at the Santa Rosa Shelter during the fire, I hear the drums of “Martha” in her sleeping bed in pain from cancer on the corner of the street, I hear the pain of the thousands I have loved  through the years. I hear the pain of those who transfer their anger on me for representing the homeless, and young men facing trial for  murder. There us is so much pain, so much hurt.

Last night eating in an excellent Thai Restaurant, I thought back through the years and asked the question: “Why am I not on the streets in a tent, using drugs to just get through the night?” I should be there, and yet I am eating a meal in a nice restaurant, have food to eat, food and socks and time to give to Martha, and I ask myself the question, “Why are there thousands like her on the streets of San Francisco, and the world, who sleep outside and go hungry and than those like me eating fine food? Is it  my white skin,  and my privilege of having a good  family and education, or is it just luck? The question haunts me, and hangs in the air.

There is no answer, accept I hear the drums beating that call us to action, to walk out on our streets, to walk in the disasters of life, to feed, to care for people, as if we are caring for ourselves. Jesus saw himself in each one of us, and he loved us until death.

The drums are beating reminding each one of us our time is short, and we should stop being afraid and open our hearts, our pocket books, and give our time, money, and all of our energy to the poorest of the poor without judgment.  We are all dying–let us die in the victory of serving others.

I talk to people whom I characterize as having the “Wealthy Angst,” they have everything, materially, but their lives are not fulfilled, and they wait in fear of losing their wealth, and ultimately death. The coming Advent Season and Christmas Day reminds us of the birth of a baby, who brings us hope in this life, and the next. There is nothing to fear.

My time on earth is nearing its end, and joining those in the Great Cloud of Witnesses I will shout and scream and push others on to be love in action, which is truly a harsh and dreadful thing, but brings so much joy. We close with a prayer from todays Vigil’s in Benedictine Daily Prayer:

“Lord Jesus, it was at night that you taught Nicodemus the mystery of our rebirth  in water and the Spirit. As we keep vigil this night to hear your Word, bring to birth in us the new self which is your own creation, and we will come to the light and live by the truth, today and forever.” Amen.

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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

415-305-2124