Standing in the Gaze of Love


“The Voice of the Lord is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders. .The voice of the Lord is a powerful voice; the voice of the Lord is a voice of splendor.”

    Yesterday I sat robed in a alb, and stole, waiting to begin a memorial service, reflecting on  Jim’s urn, sitting before me, and  in reflection within my bones was the deep realization that soon, my body will be ashes placed in my spot  at  the church, to be forgotten.

    At the same time I realized my appearance  represented the institutional church, which for the majority in the room meant   nothing but judgment, and condemnation to , and yet those who knew me, knew of love, compassion, and acceptance. The dichotomy of good and evil.

    The words spoken during the service were of the good in Jim’s life, nothing said about the pain of drug abuse, amputations of both legs, homelessness, and so much more of his forty seven years; in those moments it all came down to what he left those in the room-his goodness.

    In the last few days I have heard nothing but negative towards me, my work, my character, my life, yet when my ashes are sitting in the sanctuary of St. Luke’s, much will be said of my good. The dichotomy of good and evil.

    Last week a young friend heard a conversation we were having with his dad, his comment, said angrily, “all the shit you two talked about,” and the reality we were just talking–there is nothing just black and white.

    People have hurt me physically and emotionally, and yet I forgive, move on, and continue to serve–the dichotomy of good and evil.

    We are a dichotomy–a mixture of both good and evil; most of the time we ride the fence in between good and evil.  

    It takes our entire lives to come to terms with the reality of our baptism. We are God’s beloved–not just our best sides, but our most evil as well. Someone texted me last night “you are a “mother . .fu. ker,” and I know that, but the good news is that we are not perfect, but still sinners for whom Christ died. To say words do not hurt would be a lie, words hurt immensely, they tear one to pieces, leave one, in pain, doubt, and sometimes fear–of loneliness, of one’s life. Words matter.

    As we slough towards the Kingdom we are called to be heralds of a new creation constantly renewing the world through the experience of the redeeming grace of Jesus of Nazareth.

    Thomas Merton once said: “I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like walking from a dream of separateness.. .”

    Let us move beyond our “dream of separateness,” and see each other as one–on the journey–that will end in the “urn,” but with the hope of redeeming grace, in which we will be washed in the waters of baptism into the new creation.”


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


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