Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The God of AIDS

In years past I have never really given much thought to World AIDS Day. Of course I knew the disease disproportionately hit my community hardest but AIDS never really affected me in any meaningful way. In fact, in the twelve years since coming out of the closet I knew only one person to die from the disease and that was the year I came out. But thankfully – yes, thankfully – that all changed this past year.

On Christmas Eve, nearly one year ago, I learned that the love of my life had HIV. Just a few short weeks later I learned that he had developed AIDS. My world shattered, the firmament cracked and every notion as to who I was or what I stood for was challenged.

I was, whether I liked it or not, in the throes of the fight against AIDS and the fight for Ric’s life. I did not ask for this role any more than Ric asked for his disease but I’d be damned if I was not going to fight like hell for his dignity and by extension the dignity of everyone living with this sometimes rapacious executioner.

Ric’s case was unique, I was told. Many said they had not seen the ravages of AIDS displayed so pronounced in twenty years. Doctors told me to prepare for his last days, social workers told me to put him in a home, friends told me to walk away, family shook their heads in disbelief.

Indeed there were dark days. For two months I carried Ric to the bathroom, changed his diapers, fed him, listened to his delusions. Many nights I wanted to give up and walk away. Many days I cursed the heavens and raged at a supposedly all loving God.

No doubt many look at our life and see some divine condemnation. No doubt it has crossed the minds of some of you reading this that Ric and I would not be in the situation we are in had we not chosen the sin of homosexuality. The only reply I have for you is that of great pity. What an ugly, monster of a god you serve.

There are still others that stop short of proclaiming divine retribution but consider homosexuality to be sinful and not aligned with the will of God. To you I echo the words of Bishop Spong and proclaim "I am ready now to claim victory. I will from now on assume it and live into it. I am unwilling to argue about it or discuss it as if there are two equally valid, competing positions any longer. The day for that mentality has simply gone forever"

Instead I am grateful. I am grateful that God has allowed this disease to touch so close. I am grateful that I have been able to see the ravages of AIDS in all its raw, brute strength. Because of this disease I have learned compassion in the face of judgment, hope in the face of despair, freedom in the face of bondage, life in the face of death. I have learned that God lives in the heart of the wounded and broken, that his glory is etched in the faces of the dying, that his light beams from the souls of his marginalized creation. I have learned I am far stronger than I ever imagined, far more capable than I ever gave myself credit, far more resourceful than I ever knew possible.

God is in every crevice of this disease. He is in the t-cell, the viral load, the blood and the mucus. He is in every man, woman and child that has ever heard the words “Your test result came back positive”. He is on the death bed of every person that died alone, in every stitch of every patch of every quilt. He is in minister that embraces the afflicted, the volunteer that delivers the food, the advocate that pleads for more funding.

He is also in Ric’s prayer that he prays each night.

“They told me I was going to die but I proved them wrong, didn’t I God?”

To which the heavens respond “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”

No comments:

Site Meter