Holding On to Hope

Holding On to Hope

“A leper approached him, and said: .  . .”Lord if you wish, you can make me clean.”.  . . Matthew 8:1-4

Acknowledging Our Own Mortality

    “I fled Him down the nights and down the days;

I fled Him down the arches of the years;

I fled Him,down the labyrinthine ways

Of my own mine and in the mist of tears … .

I am He whom thou you seekest!

Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.”


    The words of Francis Thompson, from The Hound of Heaven, have followed us through our  adolescence, ministry in a  former denomination which kicked us  out over our struggle with  sexual identity, on the streets as a prostitute, and continues to hound us –to bring us  back to the center, Jesus of Nazareth. We can not run away from Christ, our  call to ministry, our aging, and the pains and sorrows of life. He is the friends who never disappoints in the best of times nor in the worst of times.

    Jesus has become a friend, who sustains us  in the  deepest drags of life: illness, surgery, abandonment, and and  fear of death, and being handicap. We try to run away, oh we try, but the Hound of Heaven never lets up. And we are  always asking the question: “Lord if you wish, you can make me clean.”

    Christ has never been an opiate, but calls us into action,  and as our  life is surrounded by  the gold, red, and auburn leaves of the fall trees, hear the whistling wind, and feel the coolness of the night, as winter nears, we know that we are  in the Autumn of life, and that until the dead of Winter enshrouds us  the words of Henri Nouwen is a reminder to all of us, of our calling, and of what makes life meaningful even in the worst of times:

“To care for the elderly(homeless, the sick, the destitute, the poor, the disabled, our friends, our enemies)  means then that we allow the elderly (homeless, the sick, the destitute, the poor, the disabled, our friends, and our enemies) to make us poor by inviting us to give up the illusion that we created our own life and that nothing or nobody can take it away from us. This poverty, which is an inner detachment, can make us free to receive the  stranger into our lives and make that person into a most intimate friend.

When care has made us poor by detaching us from the illusion of immortality, we can really become present to the elderly (homeless, the sick, the destitute, the poor, the disabled, our friends, our enemies)  . We can then listen to what they say without worrying about how we can answer. We can pay attention to what they have to offer without being concerned about what we can give. We can see what they are in themselves without wondering what we can be for them. When we have emptied ourselves of false occupations and preoccupations, we can offer free space to  strangers, where not only bread and wine but also the story of life can be shared. Fr. Henri Nouwen”


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



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