07 March 2006

"Can't exactly tell the church choir"

"I hope this doesn't offend you," he said, "but, you see, I'm HIV+."

I stood shivering outside with a man in my neighborhood today when he said those words to me. We don't talk often, but we've talked before, sharing stories about how the perils of freelancing will never outweigh the joy of doing what you love. Today, I asked how he was doing because I've been concerned for him for weeks. The day after Valentine's Day, I could hear him outside yelling into the telephone, saying that he wished it would all go away.

So when I asked how he was doing, he knew that I'd heard him before. He was much better, he said. And as he explained his depression, I guess he wanted to tell me that the source of his sadness was his illness. Yet, he felt the need to state his non-offense before speaking the words.

I've never known anyone to say, "No offense, but I have cancer." "Please don't be offended, but I have heart disease." "I hope this doesn't upset you, but I have diabetes."

I told him I led a workshop in Memphis Saturday about HIV/AIDS. His eyes smiled relief. We talked for a while, and as he left my house he said, "I can't tell you what a blessing this is." He told me that he feels so lonely with HIV. His friend with cancer is surrounded by support. "You can't exactly tell the church choir you have HIV, though," he said.

Why can't the choir handle it?


Mary said...

Lane and I were sort of discussion this cultural issue last night at dinner. Not in reference to HIV but the same idea. I think it is because people are uncomfortable or offended by what they don't know or don't have experience with. People in this area of the world are more threatened by someone with HIV than someone with cancer because of ignorance about HIV. People are afraid of it I think. I'm sure there is a much more complicated answer than that, but that is just my first thought.

Madame Rubies said...

Reminds me of a song I am loving right now. A new one by Todd Agnew. he says that jesus wouldn't be accepted in his church b/c he'd get the carpet dirty.

see-through faith said...

why indeed!


we are a long way from Jesus healing lepers. We push out HIV carriers and others too.