Judith Shaw's boyfriend and father of her daughter sat her down some years ago and gave her the news that would change her life:
"He said, 'I need to talk to you. I just want you to know, I have what Magic Johnson has.'
I said, 'What does Magic Johnson have?'
He replied: 'He has AIDS.'"
Shaw shared her wrenching story of being infected with HIV in the director's cut of Helen Whitney's film "Forgiveness: A Time to Love and A Time to Hate." The film, which was broadcast by PBS in 2011, explores the possibilities and limitations of forgiveness.
Although it took a long time, Shaw insists that forgiveness saved her life: "For me, If I hadn’t forgiven I would be out there, somewhere, in that world, abusing myself, I would die."
Coming from an alcoholic family and experiencing sexual assault by an uncle starting when she was seven, Shaw had gone through a lot by the time she was told she had been infected with HIV.
Her first reaction to the news was violent anger.
"I was so angry, I was so scared," explains Shaw. "I wanted to die, but before I died, I wanted to kill Joe. I went to his door, with the gun behind my back, rang the door bell, and he came to door and, honest to God, I saw my daughter’s face."
What followed were years of hating and hurting herself through drug abuse and neglect. But she also started therapy and, as she explains, she stopped hating herself, which was the first step toward forgiving herself and forgiving those who had hurt her.
"Once I was able to forgive me, that freed me up to forgive everybody else. And it took a long time...to get to where I am. I forgave my uncle, because not to forgive him gives him power -- and Joe for infecting me with HIV. I don’t want to live with that because I don’t want to be a bitter old woman. I want to grow old gracefully. And that’s what I intend on doing. And I am loving life. I just got married, I don’t have time to be bitter."
Shaw now works at the receptionist at the Virology Institute in Baltimore where she brings her experience to offer wisdom, compassion and kindness to those who are newly infected.
"I thank God for forgiveness. I’m HIV positive and living well."
Click here to learn more about the film Forgiveness: A Time to Love and A Time to Hate
"Hope" is the Thing with Feathers
"Hope" is the thing with feathers - That perches in the soul - And sings the tune without the words - And never stops - at all - And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard - And sore must be the storm - That could abash the little Bird That kept so many warm - I've heard it in the chillest land - And on the strangest Sea - Yet - never - in Extremity, It asked a crumb - of me. by Emily Dickinson
Salutation to the Dawn
Look to this day! For it is life, the very life of life. In its brief course Lie all the verities and realities of your existence: The bliss of growth; The glory of action; The splendor of achievement; For yesterday is but a dream, And tomorrow is only a vision; But today, well lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness, And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Prayer that From Suffering, Rejection, and Loss May Come Strength
God of mercy and creator of all: We pray for all those afflicted with AIDS, their loved ones, and all care-givers and researchers, that from suffering, rejection and loss may come strength, compassion and faith, and that we may be healed of fear and moved to give support to those in need. In the name of Jesus, the healer and friend of all, AMEN.
Clothe yourself in kindness. The heart of the person before you is a mirror: Behold therein your own. One good word can warm three winter months. One good deed is better than three days of fasting at a shrine. Requite ill-will with kindness. Be like the tree which covers with flowers the hand that shakes it. Regard heaven as your father, earth as your mother, And all things as your brothers and sisters. You will then enjoy this divine land, free from hate and sorrow.
Prayer for Persons Living With HIV/AIDS
Almighty and immortal God, as you have promised to comfort, the sick, the lonely, and the despised, incline your ear to your people who live with AIDS and speedily defend and deliver them. Through Jesus Christ our savior, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. AMEN. -Randolph Lloyd Frew, <em>Praying with HIV/AIDS</em>
Angels In America
This disease will be the end of many of us, but not nearly all. And the dead will be commemorated, and will struggle on with the living and we are not going away. We won't die secret deaths anymore. The world only spins forward, we will be citizens. The time has come. Bye now, you are fabulous each and every one and I bless you. More life, the great work begins. - Tony Kushner
The Maryknoll AIDS Task Force Prayer
God of all compassion, comfort your sons and daughters who live with HIV. Spread over us all your quilt of mercy, love and peace. Open our eyes to your presence reflected in their faces. Open our ears to your truth echoing in their hearts. Give us the strength to weep with the grieving, to walk with the lonely, to stand with the depressed. May our love mirror your love for those who live in fear, who live under stress and who suffer rejection. Mothering, fathering God grant rest to those who have died and hope to all who live with HIV. God of life, help us to find the cure now and help us to build a world in which no one dies alone and where everyone lives accepted wanted and loved. -Provided by the Maryknoll sisters of the San Salvador Diocesan HIV/AIDS program and the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance
I am standing on the seashore. A ship spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts For the ocean. I stand watching her until she fades on the horizon and someone at my side says "She is gone." Gone where? The loss of sight is in me, not in her. Just at the moment when someone says, "She is gone," there are others who are watching her coming. Other voices take up the glad shout, "Here she comes." And that is dying. -Henry Scott Holland
Prayer from the Buddhist Tradition
May creatures all abound in weal and peace; May all be blessed with peace always; All creatures weak or strong, all creatures great and small, Creatures unseen or seen, dwelling afar or near, Born or awaiting birth, --may all be blessed with peace! Let none cajole or flout his fellow anywhere; Let not wish others harm in dudgeon or in hate. Just as with her own life a mother shields from hurt her own, her only, child, --let all-embracing thoughts for all that lives be thine, --and all-embracing love for all the universe in all its heights and depths and breadth, unstinted love, unmarred by hate within, not rousing enmity. So, as you stand or walk, or sit, or lie, reflect with all your might on this: --'tis deemed 'a state divine.' from the <em>Sutta-Nipata</em>
A Native American Prayer
Do not stand at my grave and weep- I am not there, I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow. I am the diamond glint on snow. I am the sunlight on ripened grain. I am the gentle autumn rain. When you wake in the morning hush, I am the swift, uplifting rush. Of quiet birds in circling flight. I am the soft starlight at night. Do not stand at my grave and weep I am not there. I do not sleep.
Prayer for the Sick
Watch, O Lord, with those who wake, or watch, or weep tonight, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend your sick ones, O Lord Christ. Rest your weary ones. Bless your dying ones. Soothe your suffering ones. Pity your afflicted ones. Shield your joyous ones. And for all your love's sake. Amen. -Saint Augustine
Words for Introducing a Time of Sharing about a Lost Loved One:
Give sorrow words: The grief that does not speak Whispers the o'er fraught heart and bids it break. -William Shakespeare, <em>Macbeth</em>
From the Rig-Veda
Oh GOD, Let us be united Let us speak in harmony; Let our minds apprehend alike. Common be our prayer, Common be the end of our assembly; Common be our resolution; Common be our deliberations. Alike be our feelings; Unified be our hearts; Common be our intentions; Perfect be our unity.
Pslam of Comfort
As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: 'When shall I come and appear before God?' My tears have been my food day and night, while they say unto me all the day: 'Where is Thy God?' These things I remember, and pour out my soul within me, how I passed on with the throng, and led them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, a multitude keeping holyday. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why moanest thou within me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise Him for the salvation of His countenance. -Psalms 42: 2-6, Tanakh (Jewish Publication Society, 1917)
Prayer from the Baha'i Tradition
Thy Name is my healing, O my God, and remembrance of Thee is my remedy. Nearness to Thee is my hope, and love for Thee is my companion. They mercy to me is my healing and my succor in both this world and the world to come. Thou, verily, art the All-Bountiful, the All-knowing, the All-Wise. -Baha' u' llah from the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is
SPEAK low to me, my Saviour, low and sweet From out the hallelujahs, sweet and low Lest I should fear and fall, and miss Thee so Who art not missed by any that entreat. Speak to mo as to Mary at thy feet ! And if no precious gums my hands bestow, Let my tears drop like amber while I go In reach of thy divinest voice complete In humanest affection -- thus, in sooth, To lose the sense of losing. As a child, Whose song-bird seeks the wood for evermore Is sung to in its stead by mother's mouth Till, sinking on her breast, love-reconciled, He sleeps the faster that he wept before. -Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Pour Out Your Spirit Upon Person Living With AIDS
O God, whose heart burns with compassion and love for your whole creation, pour out your Spirit upon persons living with AIDS, their families and loved ones, and grant hope and peace in our days. Through Jesus Christ our Savior. AMEN. -Randolph Lloyd Frew, Praying with HIV/AIDS
Prayer from the Confucian Tradition
All fathers are to be served, Revered, and one's own father. All mothers are to be cherished As one's own mother. All men and women are to be respected, Honored, as one's own brothers and sisters. As earth bears them all, So all of them are to be accepted. All are to acknowledge And to act upon Their universal kinship. Thus will the Great Unity come into being.
Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night
Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Though wise men at their end know dark is right, Because their words had forked no lightening they Do not go gentle into that good night. Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, Do not go gentle into that good night. Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light. And you, my father, there on the sad height, Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. -Dylan Thomas
Great Spirit...We Come Before You Needing Help
Great Spirit, whose voice is heard in the stillness, Whose breath gives life to all, We come before you as children Needing help for your strength and wisdom. Give us to walk in beauty, Seeing the uncommon in the common, Aware of the great stream of wonder In which we and all things move. Give us to see more deeply Into the great things of our heritage, And the simple yet sublime truths Hidden in every leaf and every rock. May our hands treat with respect The things you have created. May we walk with our fellow creatures as sharing with them the one life that flows from you. AMEN. Native American prayer, adapted from a Sioux prayer by Jacob Trapp
My tears have been my food day and night, says the songwriter. I remember, he says, how it was when joy was still my lot, How I used to go with the multitude, Leading the procession to the house of God, With shouts of joy and thanksgiving Among the festive throng. Now its different. I am downcast, disturbed. Yet I find that faith is not dead. So I say to myself, Put your hope in God, For I will yet praise him, My Savior and my God. But then my grief returns and again I lament, to God my Rock: Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, Oppressed by the enemy? And faith replies: Put your hope in God, For I will yet praise him, My Savior and my God. Back and forth lament and faith, faith and lament, each fastened to the other. A bruised faith, A longing faith, a faith emptied of nearness: As the deer pants for streams of water, So my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? Yet in the distance of endurance I join the song: By day the Lord directs his love, At night his song is with me- A prayer to the God of my life. -Nicholas Wolterstorff, <em>Lament for a Son</em>
Since Thou Hast Given Me This Good Hope, O God
SINCE thou hast given me this good hope, O God, That while my footsteps tread the flowery sod And the great woods embower me, and white dawn And purple even sweetly lead me on From day to day, and night to night, O God, My life shall no wise miss the light of love; But ever climbing, climb above Man's one poor star, man's supine lands, Into the azure steadfastness of death, My life shall no wise lack the light of love, My hands not lack the loving touch of hands; But day by day, while yet I draw my breath, And day by day, unto my last of years, I shall be one that has a perfect friend. Her heart shall taste my laughter and my tears, And her kind eyes shall lead me to the end. -Robert Louis Stevenson
A Witness in Favor of Stricken People
Dr. Rieux resolved to compile this chronicle, so that he should not be one of those who hold their peace but should bear witness in favor of those plague-stricken people: so that some memorial of the injustice and outrage done them might endure; and to state quite simply what we learn in time of pestilence: that there are more things to admire in people than to despise. Nonetheless, he knew that the tale he had to tell could not be one of a final victory. It could be only the record of what had to be done, and what assuredly would have to be done again in the never ending fight against terror and its relentless onslaughts, despite their personal afflictions, by all who, while unable to be saints but refusing to bow down to pestilences, strive their utmost to be healers. -Albert Camus, <em>The Plague</em> (translated by Stuart Gilbert)
Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord is One! Blessed is His glorious kingdom for ever and ever! You shall love the Lord your God with all your mind, with all your strength, with all your being. Set these words, which I command you this day, upon your heart. Teach them faithfully to your children: speak of them in your home and on your way, when you lie down and when you rise up. Bind them as a sign upon your hand; let them be a symbol before your eyes; inscribe them on the doorposts of your hosue and on your gates. Be mindful of all My Mitzvot, and do them: so shall you consecrate yourselves to your God. I, the Lord, am your God who led you out of Egypt to be your God: I, the Lord am your God.
Celebration of Humankind
All humankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one person dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators: some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by injustice; but God's hand is in every translation; and God's hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again, for that library where every book shall lie open to one another: As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come, so this bell calls us all. No person is an island, entirely of itself; every man and every woman is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of their friends or of thine own were; anyone's death diminishes me, because I am involved in humankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. -John Donne, adapted
Words for Parting
Words for Parting: He is made one with Nature; there is heard His voice in all her music, from the moan Of thunder, to the song of night's sweet bird; He is a presence to be felt and known In darkness and in light, from herb and stone... He is a portion of the loveliness Which once he made more lovely. Words for Parting: 2 The courage of the early morning's dawning, And the strength of the eternal hill, And the peace of the evening's ending, And the love of God, be in our hearts. Words for Parting: 3 Farewell! The world is better for your having lived, We are better for having known you. We loved you living- we love you now. Farewell! Words for Parting: 4 Farewell, traveler. We do not know your destination but our love and gratitude go with you. Rest now- in peace- and in the love we bear you. -Percey Bysshe Shelley
From the Qur'an
God is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The likeness of His light is as a niche where a Lamp burns - the lamp in a glass and the glass, as it were, a star for brilliance. The lamp is kindled from a blessed tree, an olive neither of the east nor the west, the oil of which is almost Incandescent of itself without the touch of fire. Light upon light. God guides to His light whom He wills. (Surah 24:35) Be Kind to parents, and the near kinsman, And to orphans, and to the needy, And to the neighbor who is kin, And to the neighbor who is stranger, And to the companion at your side, And to the traveller, and to what your Right hand owns. Surely God love not The proud and boastful Such as are niggardly, and themselves conceal The bounty that God has given them. Surely God shall not wrong so much as The weight of an ant; and if it be a good deed He will double it, and give from Himself a mighty wage. -Surah 4:4`-42, 44
From the Taoist Tradition
I have three treasures: The first is love, The second, never to much, The third, never try to be first. Through love, one has courage. In moderation one has strength In not striving to be first, One gives one's talents time to mature. To be unloving and fearful, To be self-important and in a hurry, Is to rush headlong toward death. Love is victorious in attack And invulnerable in defense. Heaven arms with love Those it would not see destroyed. from the <em>Tao Te Ching</em>, 67
For Times of Fear
Almighty God, the Refuge of all that are distressed, grant unto us that, in all trouble of this our mortal life, we may flee to the knowledge of Thy loving kindness and tender mercy; that so, sheltering ourselves therein, the storms of life may pass over us, and not shake the peace of God that is within us. Whatsoever this life may bring us, grant that it may never take from us the full faith that Thou art our Father. Grant us Thy light, that we may have life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. -George Dawson
We reject all forms of discrimination and stigma, Because we believe in God, Who created the world in all its diversity and colour, HIV-positive and negative alike. We honour the dignity of all people, Because we believe in Jesus Christ, Who took upon himself the pain and suffering of the world, Carers and people living with HIV alike. We speak and act with one prophetic voice, Because we believe in the Holy Spirit, Who summons us out of our complacency, Voiceless and influential alike. And we call upon governments to honour their commitments of funds and services in the response to HIV, as we stand as one with those who live with HIV, for the eyes of the Lord are on us all. -Diakonia Council of Churches, South Africa (slightly adapted)
Creator God you created the earth and everything in it. You created everything interdependent and you created everything good. You created women and men in your image, you blessed them both. Help us to see your image on the faces of the victims of our violence. Help us remember we have no right to subject anyone to violence. Help all of us who live in violence to realize and to affirm our own dignity. Help us to realize we were made in God's image. Help us to remember that we should never tolerate violence. Help your church to realize that Jesus did not tolerate violence against women. Help us to fight violence in the HIV/AIDS era for it hampers both prevention and the provision of quality care. In Jesus name, we pray, Amen. -Musa Dube (part of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians)
Prayer of Hope for Children
I pray of a world where the youth are free, Free to play with each other without fear, Free to touch, tickle and to embrace, Free to be themselves and respected for that. I pray for a world where the young blossom, Where potential is harnessed and realized, Where people's efforts are rewarded, And where one can fly to reach the sky. I pray for a world without HIV/AIDS, I dream of a kaleidoscope of youth, Who sing a song of praise and not shed tears, I dream of the fullness of life and no more death. via: <a href="http://Churchworldservice.org" target="_hplink">Churchworldservice.org</a>, and are adapted from Dube, M., Africa Praying: A Handbook on HIV/AIDS
Prayer for Those Who Have Died of AIDS
O Loving Savior, receive our prayers for our sisters and brothers who have died of AIDS. Receive them into the communion of saints and remove the pain and anguish which had become their lot on earth. Finally, O Jesus, grant us the grace and comfort of your presence, that we may find hope and consolation in you. AMEN. -Randolph Lloyd Frew, <em>Praying with HIV/AIDS</em>
Prayer for Protection of Girls
We are gathered together to affirm the humanity of the girl child. We celebrate the fact that the girl child was created in the image of God and is loved by God. We claim responsibility to protect the girl child and give her the opportunity to grow without fear of being abused by anyone. We pray for a safe environment that is created by all for the safety of the girl child. Amen. via: <em><a href="http://Churchworldservice.org" target="_hplink">Churchworldservice.org</a></em> and and are adapted from Dube, M., Africa Praying: A Handbook on HIV/AIDS
Prayer for Faithfulness of the Bereaved
Grant, O Lord, to all who are bereaved the spirit of faith and courage, that they may have strength to meet the days to come with steadfastness and patience; not sorrowing as those without hope, but in thankful remembrance of your great goodness, and in the joyful expectation of eternal life with those they love. And this we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Savior. AMEN.
Magnified and sanctified be His great name in the world which He created according to His will. And may He establish His kingdom during your lifetime and during your days, and during the life of all the house of Israel, speedily and in the near future, and say AMEN. Blessed, praised and glorified, exalted, extolled, and honored, adored and lauded be the Name of the Holy One, blessed be He, beyond all blessings and hymns, praises and songs that are uttered in the world, and say AMEN.
There's a Hole in the World Now
There's a hole in the world now. In the place where he was, there's now just nothing. A center, Like no other, of memory and hope and knowledge and affection which once inhabited this earth is gone. Only a gap remains. A perspective on this world unique in this world which once moves about within this world has been rubbed out. Only a void is left. There's nobody now who saw just what he saw, knows what he knew, remembers what he remembered, loves what he loved. A person, an irreplaceable person, is gone. Never again will any apprehend the world quite the way he did. Never again will anyone inhabit the world the way he did. Questions I have can never now get answers. The world is emptier. My loved on is gone. Only a hole remains, a void, a gap, never to be filled. -Nicholas Wolterstorff, <em>Lament for a Son</em>
We Remember Before You All Who Are Sick
Merciful God, we remember before you all who are sick this day, and especially all persons with AIDS or HIV infection. Give them courage to live with their disease. Help them to face and overcome their fears. Be with them when they are alone or rejected. Comfort them when they are discouraged. And touch them with your healing Spirit that they may find and possess eternal life, now and forever. AMEN.
Look Mercifully Upon Your People
We humbly beg you, O God, Mercifully to look upon your people as we suffer from this dread disease; protect the healthy, calm the frightened, give courage to those in pain, comfort the dying, grant to the dead everlasting life; console the bereaved, bless those who care for the sick and hasten the discovery of a cure. And grant that in this and all our troubles we may put our whole trust and confidence in your steadfast love. AMEN.
Rainbow Over Hope Road
And for just that instant when from Hope Road we watched the rainbow cut across the robust body of the Blue Mountains the way the sun seemed filtered and the light clean as peace; when the gleam of quick color bounced giddily off of the cars; in that instant we breathed; and I was glad we could share this together- this fleeting lasting thing. via: <a href="http://Livehopelove.com" target="_hplink">Livehopelove.com</a>
From the Qur'an
O believers, be you securers of Justice, witnesses for God. Let not Detestation for a people move you Not to be equitable; be equitable-- That is nearer to godfearing. And fear God; surely God is aware of The things you do God has promised those that believe, and do Deeds of righteousness; they shall have forgiveness And a mighty wage... O believers, remember God's blessing Upon you, when a certain people purposed to stretch against you their hands, and He Restrained their hands from you; and fear God; And in God let the believers Put all their trust. -Surah 5:11-14
Prayers for Healing
Let us pray for the needs of all those living with HIV/AIDS (especially ____________), that God's never-failing love may enfold them; that all who care for them may be strengthened in that ministry; and that the church may be to them a place of refuge where Christ is made known. Let us pray for recovery from sickness, that God, the strength of the weak and the comfort of the suffering, may mercifully hear our prayers and grant to ______________ healing power, that in Christ their sickness may be turned to health and our sorrow to joy. Let us pray for those who serve in the professions of healing, that God may guide physicians and nurses and all those called to practice the arts of healing. Strengthen them by your spirit so that the health of all people may be promoted and Christ glorified. Let us pray for the ministry of family and friends. Give strength and gentleness, patience and faithfulness to family members and friends. Let their love be in you, and by their ministry of love let your love be made known. Let us pray for all those who depend upon our prayers. Blessed Lord, we ask your loving care and protection for those who are sick in body, mind, or spirit and who desire our prayers. Take from them all fears and help them put their trust in you, that they may feel your strong arms around them.
A prayer to be said as a candle of hope is lit
Lord God, on World AIDS Day: We repent of our denial, complacency and failure towards the HIV/AIDS epidemic. We commit ourselves afresh to communicating God's grace to the world; to ministering, responding to and identifying with those in need. We give up our feelings of self-righteousness, our judgmental attitudes, our faulty beliefs about HIV and AIDS and the people who live with the virus. Open our hearts to change and receive forgiveness. Give enabling power to those who will bring change to individuals, families, institutions, communities, nations and the world. Enable us to promote positive examples of righteous, safe and healthy living in our cultural, social, sexual, reproductive, political and spiritual lives. Strengthen our families, communities, and nations by removing neglect, conflict and individualism. As we light this candle as a sign of our re-dedication to HIV/AIDS work help us to listen, to learn and to live. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
It was Christmas time, The balloons needed blowing, And so in the evening We sat together to blow Balloons and tell jokes- The cool air off the hills Made me think of coffee, So I said, "Coffee would be nice," And he said, "Yes, coffee Would be nice," and smiled As his thin fingers pulled The balloons from the plastic bags; So I went for coffee And it takes a few minutes To make the coffee Though I did not know If he wanted cows milk Or condensed milk, And when I came out To ask him, he was gone, Just like that, in the time It took me to think, Cows milk or condensed; The balloons sat lightly On his still lap. Via: <a href="http://Livehopelove.com" target="_hplink">Livehopelove.com</a>
God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, O good and gracious God, You are the God of health and wholeness in the plan of your creation, You call us to struggle in our sickness and to cling always to the cross of your Son. O God, we are your servants. Many of us are now suffering with HIV or AIDS. We come before you and ask you, if it is your holy will, to take this suffering away from us, restore us to health and lead us to know you and your powerful healing love of body and spirit. We ask you also, to be with those of us who nurse your sick ones. We are the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children and friends of your suffering people. It is so hard for us to see those whom we love suffer. You know what it is to suffer. Help us to minister in loving care, support, and patience for your people who suffer with HIV and AIDS. Lead us to do whatever it will take to eradicate this illness from the lives of those who are touched by it, both directly and indirectly. Trusting in you and the strength of your Spirit, we pray these things in the name of Jesus. -National African American Catholic HIV/AIDS Task Force
El Maley Rachamim
God full of mercy who dwells on high Grant perfect rest on the wings of Your Divine Presence In the lofty heights of the holy and pure who shine as the brightness of the heavens to the soul of _______. who has gone to his eternal rest as all his family and friends pray for the elevation of his soul. His resting place shall be in the Garden of Eden. Therefore, the Master of mercy will care for him under the protection of His wings for all time And bind his soul in the bond of everlasting life. God is his inheritance and he will rest in peace and let us say Amen.
I cry aloud to God I cry to God to give ear to me In my time of distress I turn to the Almighty, with my hand uplifted; my eyes flow all night without respite; I will not be comforted. I call God to mind, I moan, I complain, my spirit falls.
Prayer for Those in Need
Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I call unto Thee, when my heart fainteth; lead me to a rock that is too high for me. For Thou hast been a refuge for me, a tower of strength in the face of the enemy. I will dwell in Thy Tent for ever; I will take refuge in the covert of Thy wings. Selah -Psalms 61: 2-5, Tanakh (Jewish Publication Society, 1917)
Everything that Lives, Must Die
As I drew, too, the way my father once looked at a bird lying on its side against the curb near our house. It was Shabbos and we were on our way back from the synagogue. "Is it dead, Papa?" I was six and could not bring myself to look at it "Yes," I heard him say in a sad and distant way. "Why did it die?" "Everything that lives must die." "Everything?" "Yes." "You, too, Papa? And Mama?" "Yes." "And me?" "Yes," he said. Then he added in Yiddish, "But may it be only after you live a long and good life, my Asher." I couldn't grasp it. I forced myself to look at the bird. Everything alive would one day be as still as a bird? "Why?" I asked. "That's the way the Ribbona Shel Olom made his world, Asher." "Why?" "So life would be precious, Asher. Something that is yours forever is never precious." -Chaim Potok, <em>My Name is Asher Lev</em>
My Life Closed Twice Before Its Close
My life closed twice before its close; It yet remains to see if Immortality unveil A third event to me, So huge, so hopeless to conceive, As these that twice befell. Parting is all we know of heaven, And all we need of hell. -Emily Dickinson
With One sweet Word of Peace
With one sweet word of peace We bid our brother go; Peace as a river to increase And ceaseless flow. With one calm word of prayer We earnestly commend Our brother to your loving arms, Eternal friend. With one dear word of love We give our brief farewell; Our love on earth and yours beyond With him shall dwell. With one strong word of faith, We stay ourselves in you, And you, O God, in life and death Will strength imbue. For then one word of hope Shall on our parting gleam, And speak of joys beyond the scope Of parting grief. Farewell in hope and love, In faith and peace and prayer, Until the power of God's great arms Draws us all near. -George Watson (adapted)