The Duty of Delight

The Duty of Delight

Servant of God Dorothy Day

1 Peter 3:13-4:6 English Standard Version (ESV)

13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.

18 For Christ also suffered[a] once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which[b] he went and proclaimed[c] to the spirits in prison, 20 because[d] they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

Yesterday was a day of confrontation for me personally. I am a white privileged male, given the best education in the world, without struggle, and  from a good family. Personally my decisions have put me in situations where death should have come, and where I should be on the street, in a shelter or sleeping in an alley.

Yesterday, I came face to face with a woman who lived on a boat on the shores of Sausilito, no running water, no electricity, for years. She has come near t death with AIDS. The story of her life is one of being brutally molested by her step father from the age of six; beaten and forced to live in filth by her boyfriend. She is now in treatment, struggling, oh how she is struggling to live and have a fulfilling life.

We served a meal at one of the shelters last night, to mostly men of minority, all told stories of abuse, and being beaten down, two of sexual molestation when they were young. None have much hope of ever getting off the streets. We gave them an awesome meal of turkey and dressing, slaw and dessert, and one told me when they leave at 6 a.m.  they are grateful for the one  small box of cereal and small carton of milk he would receive for breakfast–this in the wealthiest City in the country.

The pain in my body suddenly went away. For the pain those guys feel  are a hundred times more than I ever will. 

Dorothy Day said: “The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us.”

She said that nearly a hundred years ago. What change that will occur does not begin with our government, with our institutional churches, but from our own hearts. We have to become on fire with the Holy Spirit, to face the poverty, the violence, and the vast suffering within us and within our society, and begin a revolution.

Dorothy practiced what she called the “Duty of Delight”, which for her meant that she saw beauty in each person, in our environment, and most of all in God, trusting that all will be well. People ask me why I do not burn out, it is because  in Christ, a new creation has been born and in me a new creation is born every day, one in which each of us will find wholeness, and in working out “my salvation”,on these streets which “transform every ordinary day into a series of quick questions and every incorrect answer risks a beat down, shooting or unwanted pregnancy, ”   I see the Risen Christ; it is because I live my life on the edge, laughing, taking chances, and rejoicing in relationships. I have had three death threats during this time–call the police–No-I laugh at them, trusting in God. I am a white privileged male, trying with all my heart to “work out my salvation,” and I invite others to find the “duty of delight,” and to bring about a “revolution of the heart,” so that we will have no more suffering on our streets. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!”

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

 

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