Seeing Beyond the Shadows

Seeing Beyond the Shadows!

Joshua 2:1: “Then Joshua, son of Nun, sent two men secretly from Shittan as spies, saying, “God, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went, and entered the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab, and spent the night there.”

    Rhab was a prostitute–the lowest of the lowest in society–and yet in her concern for her family and compassion for strangers she is compelled to take action for the safety of those she knows. Matthew recounts her among the ancestors of Jesus.

    Rhab story reminds all of us that we have the capacity for goodness. She reminds us to see others as FULL people–out of the shadows, worthy of dignity, not measured by whether or not society sees them as such.

    We received a call at 2 a.m. last night, a 19 year old had no food, his blanket was stolen, and he was afraid. This 19 year old has cursed me, called me every name in the book–simply because of his own abuse by a priest. Last night he came out of the shadows in his need and allowed himself to see me and I him  as FULL PEOPLE.

    Dorothy Day once said, “we live in a dirty rotten system,” and “We need a revolution of the heart.”

    The greatest blessing of my life has been being a prostitute, living on the streets, because I came to see the way in which the those on the bottom of society were treated. We became a part of that bottom–and we are well aware we walk on the edge of becoming a part of that bottom again.

    We lose our  housing, become ill either physically or mentally, we become a part of the nameless homeless. People simply walk away. I have seen that a thousand times. None of us are immune to that possibility.

    We take no political sides, we see all sides as children of God, regardless of belief, race, creed, color, and sexual orientation.

    For as we look around us we see thousands without food, medical care, housing, and the division of our society, enforces those problems.

    So we will not argue politics until all are fed, clothed, and housed, and it will take a village to do that, a village of which we are all a part of. A village that puts aside its divisions and sees all people regardless of race, creed, color etc, as deserving of the right to live full lives. A village that works together, despite its differences for the welfare of all.

    Fr. Henri Nouwen gives a description of his experience, not as good as Rahab’s, whose experience outweighs Henri’s”

Creative Reciprocity

“We who want to bring about change have first of all to learn to be changed by those whom we want to help. This, of course, is exceptionally difficult for those who are undergoing their first exposure to an area of distress. They see poor houses, hungry people, dirty streets; they hear people cry in pain without medical care, they smell unwashed bodies, and in general are overwhelmed by the misery that is all around them. But none of us will be able to really give if he has not discovered that what he gives is only a small thing compared to what we have received. When Jesus says: “Happy the poor, the hungry, and the weeping” (Luke 6:21), we have to be able to see that happiness. When Jesus says: “What you did to the least of my brothers, you did to me” (Matthew 25:40), he is addressing to us a direct invitation not only to help but also to discover the beauty of God in those who are to be helped. As long as we see only distasteful poverty, we are not really entitled to give. When, however, we find people who have truly devoted themselves to work in the slums and the ghettos and who feel that their vocation is to be of service there, we find that they have discovered that in the smiles of the children, the hospitality of the people; the expressions they use, the stories they tell, the wisdom they show, the goods they share; there is hidden so much richness and beauty, so much affection and human warmth, that the work they are doing is only a small return for what they have already received. Henri Nouwen”


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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


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