I stared at the fork in my hand. I stared at the steaming pan of enchilada’s in the middle of the table. Through the steam, I saw the smiling, gaunt face of my red-headed, dying friend and his beautiful, gifted with hospitality-wife. I smiled back. I looked to my left and saw my husband, to my right sat my toddler, forks also in hand.
“What if the doctor’s are wrong? What if we can catch it from a fork?” I hated the thought, even as it formed. It was 1990. Until then, AIDS had been a news story, a health ed subject and a topic of gossip to me. Suddenly, it was very real. It was frightening, deadly and risky.
That day, AIDS stopped being a news story and became part of my story.
Why? Because it was killing our friend. And it had the potential to kill our friendship.
Fork in hand, I had a choice to make. Would I allow my fear to pile hurt on an already bloodied and dying friend? (There were some who whispered that people dying from aids “were getting what they deserve. And had brought it upon them selves” We saw how much this had hurt them more than the virus. itself.)
I swallowed my fear, and I dug into the pan, filling my plate, my husband’s and son’s with enchilada’s, sauce and cheese.
Around that table, we shared a communion of enchilada’s and diet coke. We laughed. We cried. For a few moments-we lived the gospel.
I remember his bony, scaly red hand as we held hands to pray. I remember the tinge of fear again invading my heart as I reached out to clasp it. I remember the smile and warmth that met my hand in return.
A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.
It wasn’t because we were fearless or a good people. We aren’t. We did it because we’d be desperate for touch if we were dying. And because the example we have is Christ . He touched the un-touchables of his day.
I wish I could say that prayer brought healing. It didn’t.
Our friend died. Because AIDS kills. It still does. Every Single. Day.
Some ask where God is when people suffer. I think he’s eating enchilada’s and drinking diet coke with them. I think he holds a rough, scaly, bony hand in prayer.
When we let Him.
Today is World AIDS day.
My question to you is- Will you let him?
Wondering what you can do? Here are some ways to touch someone:
World Vision Sponsor a child affected by AIDS
Bloodwater– Donate $ to help find a cure and to help treat those who hurt.
In honor of our friend (Alan) we’re sponsoring a child through World Vision. His name is Daniel- he is a first grader who lives in Tanzania.