Sunday, December 1, 2013

Hope on World AIDS Day

It only just occurred to me that the first day of the season of Advent (the church calendar "new year") fell on World AIDS Day this year.

Advent has become known as the season of Hope and the last 20 years has seen much change in the world of AIDS treatment. There's always hopeful news coming at us about advances in treating HIV, but there is not yet any cure.

Too many people are acting like the miracle drugs we have today are a cure.

I don't want to get into moralizing about safer sex. That's too easy to do and there are statistics that show that doesn't prevent anyone from being reckless anyway.

But the subject of hope has been on my mind the last few weeks as I've found, read, and am re-reading a slim book called Mystical Hope by Cynthia Bourgeault. There are things in this book that are reminding me of things I've sort of forgot or let go or lost faith in. I can't say it's telling me anything that I didn't know before, but it is definitely reminding me.

And while the book doesn't explicitly go into this, it reminds me of something I've said a few times about hoping and wishing. We often wish for things and call it hope.

But the world is woefully short on a supply of genies in bottles and wishing---no matter how much you pray, plead, believe that something must happen---is of little use against some harsh realities.

You can wish all you want, even call it hope, but believing you can fly will not keep you from plummeting to your death if you step off the roof of a skyscraper. It feels like there is something similar going on with people who want to deny the wisdom of safer sex, wishing with all their might that they won't contract the virus or if they do, wishing with all their might that life on the miracle drugs will be just like life before, only with pills.

As I said, its too easy and of no use to moralize about it. There's something in our species that has a little bit of a death wish anyway. Cigarettes continue to be manufactured and purchased and smoked despite good data that says it's a bad idea. I continue to eat a few too many carbs despite my doctor assuring me that only a certain level of consumption is safe for me and above that level they are a slow acting poison.

Sugar or sex. Something's going to kill you and we seem willing to risk playing with things that will get us there faster.

But hope is something else. It is the assurance that we are held by something bigger than us, that we have identity and ultimate safety that cuts through the dehumanization and deadly danger of real life.

I think I'll leave that right there for tonight. I'm holding some choice personal saints in memory and in hope tonight and pondering what that might mean for this season just begun.

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On a lighter note, this was being passed around on Facebook: 

I'd been thinking about ways to observe the season and this struck me as just the thing, so I'll be doing this on Facebook and Twitter (where the hashtags work) and here as well. Will I get a picture posted here each day? We'll see, but I will be doing my very best to get 'em on FB and Twitter. (I don't do Instagram.) 

Here is my first entry for PREPARE:

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