Monday was World AIDS Day. Ava and I went to the National AIDS Memorial Garden in San Francisco imagining that we would be two of thousands gathering to remember and to envision solution. Here’s what we experienced…
We arrive in Golden Gate Park and pulled immediately into one of many parking spots still available. “Bizarre,” I thought. We rolled down the path to a huge white tent filled, not with thousands, but with a couple hundred people, mostly representing the homosexual community quietly gathered in remembrance. The featured speakers were a family of five: mom, daughter, son, and adopted Ethiopian son all were HIV positive. Their story was a riveting one of living HIV positive in a world ravaged by both HIV/AIDS and misunderstanding. Once through, we were all invited to the “Circle of Friends” where the names added to the memorial were to be read with a bell rung in their honor.
Ava and I, knowing no one there, nor anyone whose name was going to be read, felt like going to the “Circle of Frinds” was exactly where we should be.
As the names were read and the bell rang out, I was struck with two stark voids:
1. Where was the mention of HIV/AIDS as a global pandemic that is ravaging our world? I wondered to myself, as I walked for nearly an hour after the ceremony, what World AIDS Day might have been like in South Africa. Where, as all are victims of HIV/AIDS, the experience of those in the majority world couldn’t be more different than those I stood with in San Francisco on this day. So many, globally, are not people of influence with opportunity and freedom, but are true victims of exploitation, violence, and poverty resulting in an infection for which there is no solution.
2. Where was the Church? I’ve never, in my life, been in a place where fear dominated hope more than in the “Circle of Friends” that day. Perhaps the reason there was no hope was because Christians have taken such a polemic stand against homosexuality that simply choose not to be associated with local HIV/AIDS. You can’t bring hope when your posture is against.
Perhaps hope and fear did meet on World AIDS Day in San Francisco this year. Ava and I got to be there standing with…
Jesus stood in the Circle of Friends with arms outstretched