On my computer and my cell phone I rotate photos of various friends. Presently I have my friend Matt's, senior photo, and if there has to be a reason (God help me if I do not have a reason, right?) first of all he is my friend, and in the past few months has simply walked with me, taking me as I am, but in reality his photo symbolizes hope. The hope for the future. Matt is a compassionate guy, and in that compassion there is hope. For only as we live our lives in compassion can we offer hope to the world. In the days ahead I will carry other photos, one I carry often is that of Michael.
Three years ago late one night I received a call, and my friend Mike had overdosed, just gotten out of jail and used too much. Mike was 32, I had known him since he was 15. He came from a good family, but in living the questions of life, became involved in the life on the street. He prostituted, went through girlfriends, and boy friends; would go home and have his life together for a year or two, and than back again.
I saw his body that night, and his face, still haunts me, and than two days later before cremation I saw his body wrapped in a blanket, head shaved. I still have night mares of the last two times I saw him--he was dead--never to struggle with his questions, never to hug me, never to hug his parents, never to fight with me, and argue with me, and question me. A hundred people were at his memorial service on the street. He was loved. I became so very ill after that night, and could not go to Oregon for his family service, and wrote the service for his family, and that has always been a sorrow that comes back to me. And yet maybe it was best for this stranger not be there, but only his family and friends.
A question Michael asked me one night as he was high on H one that was really telling, and showed his heart: "Why do people allow people to live on the streets, when there is enough for everyone?" Smart guy.
There was an article in the paper yesterday about the lack of housing increasing, homelessness in our rural counties is out of control--and so all I can do is simply like Matt and I did yesterday--feed the hungry, listen to people, live simply and walk with them, what can others do? That is the question each of us must answer, for the present and future depends upon that answer? Not on the government--for it is our answer that dictates our laws--what are we to do? What would Jesus Do through each of us?
And I always asked myself the question: When will my time come to be on the street? There are no guarantees.The only guarantee we have is death.
Deo Gratias? Thanks be to God?
+Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min., D.S.T.
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164