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  • Writer's pictureFr. Daniel S.J. Scheid SCP

What is Father Dan Thinking? 2-18-24

Three Fridays ago, I walked the perimeter of the northern hemisphere of our city. I saw the stock-silliness of the Haight-Ashbury; the bio-diversity of Golden Gate Park; the eternity of the Pacific Ocean; the plummeting overlooks of Land’s End; the opulent mansions of Sea Cliff; the history of the Presidio; the straight-on look at Golden Gate Bridge; the sea-level stretch of Fort Point and Crissy Field; the masts of the Marina; the repurposing of Fort Mason; the kitsch and decadence of Fisherman’s Wharf; the hot-dog vendors petitioning the tourists of the Embarcadero; the leviathan-like cruise ship docked at its dedicated pier; the clock-tower of the Ferry Building; the Financial District, searching for its feet; the bit of bustle of Union Square; the desperation of the Tenderloin; the nearly-imperceptible incline of Turk Street past the Fillmore; and finally Divisidero to the Panhandle to home. I walked about fifteen miles in about six hours and was glad for a hot bath with Epsom salts and three prophylactic ibuprofen that staved off the soreness. It worked, as I walked nearly ten miles the next day, around the Haight and back and forth to North Beach, just for fun.


As near as I can suss out from my Walker’s Map of San Francisco, there isn’t a comparable route to take me along the edges of our city’s southern hemisphere. Instead, I’ve explored some of our southern neighborhoods as if I were a sewing machine needle, up and down, back and forth, over and again. That’s how I stumbled upon the Dogpatch on my meanderings back from a walk to the Food Bank to renew our meal-ministry account.


When my mind takes me there, I try to imagine what it was like for Jesus and his disciples in their walking ministry. The gospels tell us their encounters with people, and they suggest a few of the sights and sounds and smells. I try to explore my city with a similar purpose: looking at the people I pass; making eye-contact and saying hello when I can (methinks my clerical collar makes that a tad less intrusive and, well, less creepy in this culture of communal isolation); wondering what goes on in the homes and shops along the way; and intentionally crossing the street not to avoid human pain but to witness to it, and engage with it when invited.


It's a gift and a blessing, my priestly occupation. I continue in my gratitude to you for calling me here and encouraging me to explore and report back.


God’s blessings and peace,


Dan +


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