In the Wastelands!

In The Wasteland

The past few days I have been in Sacramento getting my shoulder looked at and at a clergy retreat. The question we were asked to consider was: “Where is God for you this Lent?”

There was a gentleman I talked to who worked in D.C. directly with the homeless, and he told me: “Be ware you will find yourself in a wasteland, and feel totally alone.” He killed himself several weeks later, and he was about to get married.

The past  six months have been the best and worst of times.  The best is in the friends I have become close to, we have had so much fun, going to Amsterdam, hanging out, Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years together, the most fun I have had in along time, and they have stuck with me during these times, without question, without judgment. Great times;

The worst is seeing the increase of homelessness on the streets, and in Sacramento more and more homeless, along the rail road tracks tons of tents, reminds me of Steinbeck’s  The Grapes of Wrath. People want answers and there are no easy answers.

I have been judged, criticized, and condemned. I have witnessed a stabbing, and have had several other deaths; I have young guys who can not work within the system, and the reality is that youth fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen and a little older, do not have the maturity to grasp a full time job, in a city where rent is impossible is not readily apparent to social services. The services very seldom grasp that most have PTSD.  So many are mentally ill and need housing and treatment. There are people who have full time jobs and live in tents and their cars, it is a wasteland.  People throw up their hands, and run away from facing the situation.

Personally I have had an illness, and an injury, and basically have had two young friends who have stood by me without question or judgment; I came close to death in all of this, and as a friend said today, “you have three lives left;” and Jesus is shall we say is distant, we touch base, but we stay separated, and I remain as faithful as I can.

During Lent I will observe Ash Wednesday on the street implanting ashes; Holy Thursday Eucharist in the Park, the Good Friday Service in the Castro, and Easter breakfast and Service in the Haight. I will keep putting one foot in front of the other. Next week I will return to doing outreach; I have always been a fighter, and will continue to fight, but I am in the wasteland, and it is scary, and so totally lonely.

A friend of mine, Sean, 19, came by Sunday night. I have known him since he was 15 when I met him at a school presentation.  Great parents and we became friends. We fought, he teased me endlessly. Two and half years ago his parents and two brothers were killed in a car accident. He was broken, and I stayed at his house that Spring until he graduated. He comes to me when he is severely depressed, and thinking of suicide. The other night he said, “River, you never judge me, and you know me because you are in many ways like me, and I know how you are struggling now, that is why I stick with it, because you never give up, you are a lost boy like me, and you hold on to your faith, despite everything.”

Ultimately I live with the hope of drinking beer, in particular Angry Orchard, in the Reign of God with all of my ragamuffin guys:

“I should like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings.

I should like the angels of Heaven to be drinking it through time eternal.

I should like excellent meats of belief and pure piety.

I should like flairs of penance at my house.

I should like the people of heaven at my house;

I should like barrels of peace and non-judgment at their disposal;

I should like vessels of charity for their distribution;

I should like for them cellars of mercy.

I should like cheerfulness to be in their drinking.

I should like Jesus to be their among them.

I should like the three Mary’s of illustrious renown to be with us.

I should like the people of heaven, the poor, to be gathered around us from all parts.” St. Brigid of Kildare

Fr. River Sims, D.Min.

www.temenos.org

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