For some people AIDS finds it way into our lives because of friendships. For me, there was one friendship which found its way into my life because he had AIDS. That friendship changed the face of God for me forever.
In 1989 I was working on a movie when I met the first people I had ever met who were living with AIDS. That fall the university I attended gave me the right connections, permission, and $500 to start a ministry volunteering at a local hospice, Ariel House. It was there I met Carlos.
Carlos hated Christians and wouldn’t let us even cross the threshold of his room. I was terribly afraid of gay people and can’t say, at the time, I didn’t feel a little relieved. But eventually he let me rub his feet, he let me across his threshold and I let him cross mine.
I spent a good deal of the last week of his life with him, just holding hands. I was one of the last of his friends to see him alive. He taught me how important holding hands is, even when you don’t or even can’t speak.
While today most of us know someone who lives with HIV, there are still thresholds to be crossed. This is the great news that there may still be part of your life about to see God and the world a whole new way.
This year during advent I invite you to consider crossing a threshold. This year volunteer sometime at your local AIDS service center. Hear some stories. Learn something new. Go where you may not have planned to go. Let someone in. Give lots of money if you can and commit to spend one minute for every dollar you give in direct service. Or if you cannot give, donate the amount of minutes or hours to for every dollar you wish you could give.
For me, letting Carlos in was far more about finding grace, than giving it.