Fire on the Earth

Fire on the Earth

“I came to cast fire on the earth and would that it was already kindled.” Luke 12: 49

“My recent illness has really convinced me of the importance of not judging or condemning, not even our own past, and of looking at people with immense compassion and love in the way Jesus looked at the adulterous woman and made her discover her own goodness through the eyes of Jesus and thus find the strength to “sin no more.” Fr. Henri Nouwen


Two nights ago our phone rang, and we were  asked to go and be a chaplain, to be a listener, in the fire area. And as we prepare to go North the next couple of days, our  memory returns to  our final psychological evaluation before ordination. The psychologist told us, “Your best ministry will be done in crisis situations and with youth. You have the privilege or the curse of letting people into your life, in such away they find a friend, and you embrace them in that friendship.” And so it has been. Our life has been spent in situations of crisis. Our  life has been spent in the fires of life.

Last week we were called to the Haight, where where we  found a twenty year old lying in his bloody sleeping bag, with blood flowing from a  wound in  his arm. He had been stabbed. Each day we walk in the what seems to be  miles and miles of tents and sleeping bags, seeing people without anything, sleeping on our streets. We give socks, food, and listen. The fire is burning.

There was an article in the Chronicle telling of the the struggle several members of the Golden Gate Warriors are having finding housing on their salaries of millions. The fire is burning.

We feel the Angel of Death flying around us, there are nights, like tonight, we  can not sleep, we have nightmares, and wake up in sweats.

Yet the Angel of Death  reminds us that fire is good, our forests often burn as an act of nature, in order for them to grow, and prosper. And so it is with us. Our human made fires will destroy our lives, and our way of living, but ultimately there will be resurrection and God will bring justice and healing.New life will come from the fires.

For in the midst of feeling the Angel of Death floating around us we  are reminded of the words of Julian of Norwich:

“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all matter of things shall be well,”

words we first heard from our  English professor fatally ill with cancer entering into that final experience with faith in Jesus, and a prayer from Common Prayer:

“Lord when we weary of the journey, strengthen us by your Spirit to imagine New Heavens and a new earth.” Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

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