Wisdom Walking

Wisdom Walking: Pilgrimage As A Way of Life by Gil Stafford

Im Memory of Frosty, 1999-2017

Gil Stafford writes of pilgrimage and his journey on the road of life. One of the quotes that touched me was to in a quote from Brene Brown in which she said “I try to hide a way the imperfections and fret over the mistakes here and there. I work hard never to let people see me sweat. .. .I couldn’t hide them any more. People saw me sweat and it was hard.”

Today has been a day of humor, of struggle, and of pain.  We served food and gave out presents in the Haight and on Polk.  When I came back to the church and was sitting, one person who has known me for a long time, came up to me and told me she would like to have lunch with me if I was no longer “contagious, ” and when I came home I had an email from a friend whom I have laid down my life for, saying “I would like to see you, if you are not contagious,” what is strange is I have never been contagious just ill from an infection from some crowns.

I felt very tired, very tired, of struggling with people who I have given a lot to, and can not even call and ask me what is wrong; tired of trying not to sweat, trying to be clean, and perfect. And my mind turned to four  relationships who have seen me sweat.

First was Dana, former rector of St. Luke’s the only pastor, and the last I will have had since child hood. She invited me into the church, she showed me so much respect, in my craziness,and trusted her kids and her house to me. On my desk lies the Bible she gave me, with her inscription, each day it reminds me of her love.

Second is Matthew, whom I have known for over three years, since he was 15. From the moment we met there was a sense that we had a lot in common, in the last five months, I find myself wondering where we are different. He has walked with me during this illness, he has always said he liked me because I did not judge him, and the truth is he has never judged me. Last night we went to a concert and he asked me if I was having fun, and the truth is I always have fun with him, it was a crazy and fun concert. In Amsterdam with my fever high at night I found it hard to figure out directions, I forgot things, and he tolerated me. Outside of my parents and my brother, no one has ever accepted me as he has.  I have sweated a lot in front of him. I have tried to push him a way, and he stays. Matt is always telling me basically what to do, and I follow his suggestions; last night he was put off because I was not listening to him, about something and the truth is I was, just trying to work it out tactfully. We are so much a like it is scary.  I am going to his house for Christmas tomorrow, and he talks of gifts, and the truth is he has given me the best gift of all–taking me for me, screwed up as I am;

And then we have Jacob, who went to Amsterdam, and who takes me for me as well. He has my health care power of attorney because like Matthew, he accepts me for me.

And finally we come to Frosty, whose photo, along with Matt and Jacob’s sit on my desk. I met Frosty in Sacramento three years ago walking on the River Walk. He was 15, and every month I would see him. He would test me, he would fight with me, and one day he knocked me in the river, and jumped in and I said to him, “You little fucker I am going to kill you” and we both started laughing, and I new he was simply testing me, trying to prove my friendship, as I do my friends. Frosty came to San Francisco, and his mother called me, and sent me money to help him. He was from a small town in the Mississippi and never fit in, and left suddenly. She did not understand why. I met his fourteen year old brother who started texting me and now snap chats me. Frosty helped me on my dissertation, reading it, getting people for me to talk to. One day he commented, “This is as much about you as us, you are one of us–one of the  “lost boys,” and I laughed and said “yea, it is our story.” Several weeks ago he wanted to go skating and we spent the day skating, laughing, just having fun, and it was a great day, and he spent the night. The next morning he told me he had decided to go home, “I am tired of the city, I simply want to be with my mom and  don’t fit in here either. ” San Francisco is a great city, but ultimately to fit in you must conform, and lost boys do not conform.  And he had one favor to ask of me–to baptize him, and as I did I found much joy.

Two nights ago I received a snap chat, that was disturbing, “Hey man, remember to come to hell and we will party for ever, but bring Jesus to cool the fires,” and than the next day his mom called to tell me he had committed suicide. As we talked I told her the reality was he never really fitted in any where, as I do not, and that was a struggle he could not over come.

And so tonight around a fire in the Park, we celebrated the Eucharist, we remembered Frosty, and I will go in February to Mississippi to have his memorial service, and his brother will come in August for us to take his ashes and scatter them at the Rave in Joshua Tree. Frosty was one of my best friends, ever loyal, always present, testing me as I  tested him, but we sweated together. And so my friend, “May God the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, bless preserve and keep you, now and forever, and may you shine with the stars in glory.” Amen.

And for us who continue the pilgrimage on this Christmas

Day let us remember that the Jesus whose birth we celebrate was one of the “lost boys,” he never fitted in, and he fought for those who no one cared for, and he died for them, and rose to call all of us to move out of our safety zones to love everyone.

And as for me, when the time comes, I will go to hell taking Jesus with me to party with my friend, and I will always remember his love for me–as we both sweated together, and continue this pilgrimage until I enter the great Communion of Saints where I will see my friend again. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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





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