Thanksgiving to World AIDS Day

Thank you. Thank you for acknowledging the power of a virus to ravage lives. Thank you for extending compassion to every human being, protec...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

World AIDS Day

December 1, 1994: A nostalgic visit to our Maryland hometown began with a dear friend in Washington DC. That first night, Bret and I took a late night spin past our favorite DC haunts. Traveling down Pennsylvania Avenue, we noticed a small crowd carrying candles in front of the White House. Not a remarkable DC sight on its own until we noticed a sign proclaiming World AIDS Day. Bret and I paused a moment then continued our journey down memory lane. The irony of that sighting wasn’t lost on us. We knew this would be Bret’s last visit to his beloved east coast. Five months later, AIDS took his life.

Today marks the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day, the day designated for individuals and organizations from around the world to come together to bring attention to the global AIDS epidemic. World AIDS Day elicited hope even in 1994, if not directly for Bret, for those to come after him. In the 14 years since, hope became a reality for many living with HIV and those committed to preventing it through awareness, education, sustained prevention programs, expansion of voluntary HIV testing and counseling, improved drug therapies and accessibility.

Hope extends and improves the quality of life for those with continuous access to antiretroviral drugs but at an extremely high cost. Drug regimens and medical insurance (if qualified) remain pricey, stigma associated with the disease too often results in harassment and continues to be an unspoken factor in job and housing discrimination. The overall number of people living with HIV continues to increase in most regions of the world and we must remain committed to the ultimate goal of universal access to prevention, treatment and care while diligently pursuing a cure.

The 2008 World AIDS Day theme is “Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise”, a reminder to UN signers of the 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS to take the lead and keep their commitment to apply global action to the global crisis of AIDS. 15 years ago I made my own promise of commitment to address the AIDS crisis. This year, I’m recommitted to keep it and invite you to commemorate World AIDS Day by reflecting on your personal level of commitment to end the crisis --- learn the facts, read their stories and share your own.

Make the promise, keep the promise...until there’s a cure.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Favorite Day

The day before Thanksgiving became just that sometime around junior high for a very simple reason - no alarm clock for the next 4 days! There were other, even longer school breaks in the year but Thanksgiving was the first long break after summer making it so much more anticipated and appreciated.

Over the years I've certainly come to enjoy other days and long ago gave up sleeping long past the alarm but on this particular day I'm a teenager again. The feeling came full circle at dinner last night when my grown son, working his first full time job, declared his excited intention to "sleep late on Thursday and Friday and Saturday and Sunday." Some things never change.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Celebrate all for which we are truly blessed, including a good night's sleep.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Is God Smiling?

This excerpt from Desmond Tutu's God Has a Dream: A Vision of Hope for Our Time has been on my mind a lot this week.

If you were in heaven now you would notice the tears in God's eyes. The tears streaming down God's face as God looked on us and saw the awful things that we, God's children, are doing to each other. God cries and cries. And then you might see the smile that was breaking over God's face like sunshine through the rain, almost like a rainbow. You would see God smiling because God was looking on you and noting how deeply concerned you are. And the smile might break out into a laugh as God said, "You have vindicated Me. I had been asking Myself, 'Whatever got into Me to create that lot?' And when I see you, yes, you," God says, "you are beginning to wipe the tears from My eyes because you care. Because you care and you have come to learn that you are not your brother's or sister's keeper. You are your brother's brother and your sister's sister." And God says, "I have no one except you. Thank you for vindicating Me."

All over this magnificent world God calls us to extend His kingdom of shalom - peace and wholeness - of justice, of goodness, of compassion, of caring, of sharing, of laughter, of joy, and of reconciliation. God is transfiguring the world right this very moment through us because God believes in us and because God loves us. What can separate us from the love of God? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. And as we share God's love with our brothers and sisters, God's other children, there is no tyrant who can resist us, no oppression that cannot be ended, no hunger that cannot be fed, no wound that cannot be healed, no hatred that cannot be turned to love, no dream that cannot be fulfilled.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

My son was born in late October and the first Tuesday in November seemed a good time for his first outing - a stroller ride to my polling place at a nearby school. Two years later his sister was born, also in October, so she too was introduced to the outside world through a voting booth.

21 years later, their polling place has been converted to a mail-in precinct but both have voted for our next President.

For all the reasons I am proud of tonight's turnout, I'm especially impressed with the young people in our country. They registered, they campaigned and they kept the faith. Most importantly, on this day, having discovered their empowerment to shape the future, they got themselves to the polls.