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Hope: The Most Caring Gift
By Rev. A. Stephen Pieters
She said I should
think of myself as her partner in medicine; we are
co-creators of my wellness. Even though there were no
treatments, she taught me I could do a lot to prepare my
body for healing, so when a treatment did become
available, it would stand a better chance of working.
So I set about doing everything I could to create the
conditions for healing in my body. My wellness plan
included good nutrition, vitamins, laughter, meditation
visualization, prayer, regular exercise, educating
myself and doing volunteer work at a local AIDS
organization. Making survival a full time job didn't
give me time to sit around depressed.
With the help of caring friends and health care
providers, I soon discovered that I could still dance! I
could still laugh! I could still enjoy my friends and my
life. I could still be joyfully alive, even with AIDS
I have found there is hope even in facing death. When I
was close to death from AIDS complications, I was amazed
at how my hope and faith gave me courage. Sometimes hope
in facing death comes from what a person believes about
life after death; sometimes it is simply the expectation
of release from pain and suffering.
Shortly after my "terminal" diagnosis, my therapist
taught me the Native American saying, "The quality of
life is not measured by the length of life, but by the
fullness with which we enter each present moment." This,
too, gave me hope: I learned to live in the moment, and
to use each moment to improve my chances of survival.
Living and dying with HIV/AIDS can be an experience of
loneliness and despair. I know that experience can be
transformed into a life of hope, through empowering
those of us living with HlV/AlDS to be actively alive
until we die. This creates hope, even when life seems
hopeless. What greater gift can a caregiver offer?
Rev. A. Stephen Pieters, B.S.,
M.Div., D.Min. (Hon.) is the Director of AIDS Ministry
of Metropolitan Community Churches worldwide and has a
column in "The Body" on the internet at
www.thebody.com/pieters/revpiet.html. and feel despair.