Saturday, December 01, 2007
and I'm thinking about my friends in Tamil Nadu who are part of the AIDS Awareness and Rehabilitation project that opened while we were out there a year ago. To fight the spread of AIDS with a few ancient Singer sewing machines seems laughably inadequate - but the issue of AIDS in India (as in so many other places) is the issue of poverty. It's very simple. Children are infected and dying because their mothers take the only route open to them to earn money for food. Nobody is going to produce anti retroviral drugs for them, because there simply isn't the money - and anyway, few around them care if they live or die. Out there, life is cheap. It's ironic, - the first AIDS funeral I went to was for D., a gay friend, a musician - and the celebration of his life and work was among the most beautiful I remember....The GBLT community and their friends gathered in force to support each other, to show their love in the face of death. Afterwards we drank pink champagne and wept and laughed and wept some more....and it was all so incredibly civilised. Now, as I pray on World AIDS day, I'm thinking about Anjali and her son...about Lili and Sushila and the other girls I met, whose lives are, on the whole, nasty, brutish and short. Who knows how things are for them now, - but not one of them is forgotten by the God to whom they cling.
O God of love whose mercy has always included those who are forgotten,
those who are isolated, those who suffer,
bless, we beseech you, all who are afflicted by HIV and AIDS.
Comfort them in their pain, sustain them in their hopelessness,
And receive them into the arms of your mercy in their dying.
Open our hearts to provide for their needs,
to take away their isolation,
to share in their journey of suffering and sorrow
and to be present with them so they need not die alone.
Bless those who mourn the death of friends and lovers;
may they not be overwhelmed by death
but receive comfrot and strength to meet the days ahead
with trust and hope in your goodness and mercy.
(A prayer from South Africa)