Tuesday, December 1, 2009


On this the first day of December, I am heartfully aware that this is the day set aside for world attention to the HIV-AIDS pandemic. This is by no means something that is theoretical for me in my own personal life experience. I have been active in the movement since the mid 1980’s, before the acronym of AIDS was even used. The first feature film that I appeared in was a film that looked closely and intimately at the lives infected and affected at a time when there was medically little hope. It is not my activism or my acting, however, that come to my mind today in my own observance of this day of remembrance. It is the countless colleagues, acquaintances, comrades, friends, and loves that have transitioned via this disease that tug at my heart and moisten my eyes. It is the number of beautiful Souls that I have sat with in their final moments, some for which I was the only one who was left to love them. While the stigma has lessened over the years, it still remains as does the irrational fear. The religious unconsciousness is still used as a battering ram for those who are already down, and the denial and suppression over the severity of the affliction are such that infection numbers are once again on the rise. While I could discuss here the meta-physical ramifications of this out-picturing of human consciousness at this phase of our emergence, it is not the center of my focus as I write this day. It is the love I feel in my heart for all of the angels who at some level are still with me as I look their way on this AIDS Remembrance Day.
I was blessed and honored last evening to participate in a NAMES PROJECT World AIDS Day Observance, where part of my contribution was to simply read the names of some of the people who have transitioned as a result of this disease as a central part of the program. These were names of individuals that though they had lived in Palm Beach County, I did not know. As I slowly read the names given to me, and as I listened to the names read by other participants, a sense of reverence and of unity filled my being in a way that transcends what might be captured by words. I could tangibly feel the interconnection, and I knew that part of our Soul enrollment was that one day, post-mortality; I would be able to speak their names with a deep Knowingness that their lives had mattered and that they were not forgotten. I could feel that though my relationship with HIV is not physical, it is intensely personal. I am here to Presence it in a way that does not deny it, yet also does not give it authority over me or those it has infected. I know that those who have transitioned are eternally spirit, yet their human experience upon this earth mattered greatly as well. They were and remain important to the totality of the human fabric. They are integral to the whole. They are still a part of me. As I speak their names, I speak my own.
This aforementioned observance began a twelve day exhibiting of the NAMES PROJECT AIDS MEMORIAL QUILT in the town I am blessed to live in. There are over 200 quilt panels, each representing and depicting a life lost to this pandemic. They are stunning to observe. The love, the pain, the celebration that went into the creation of these panels is palpable. They run from the simple to the whimsical to the flamboyant; as diverse and unique as the lives they represent. There are six new panels that have been inducted into this Palm Beach County collection. They will hang in this exhibit, and then go on to become a permanent part of the national collection of over 400,000 panels. There is one that I am particularly partial to. It represents a life lost that I was honored to be intimately and intricately a part of. I got to actually create this panel that memorializes and represents the life of the one I loved so dearly. The one that left an indelible imprint on my heart and in my life. When I speak his name, I am filled with memories of beauty, of laughter, of loss, of profound and eternal love. While his spirit moved on, his legacy remains for and in me far more personally than any panel could ever capture. And yet I am so thrilled to have his panel be a part of this wonderful mosaic of celebration and of love.
So you see, there is nothing theoretical or distanced in me as I open into this day of commemoration. I remain with all the feelings in my heart, even as I hold the possibility that the healing that has already occurred in the field of the Inner-realm will one day soon be made manifest here on earth. AIDS will become a distant memory, though those who have left as a result of its effects will not. They are and will remain a precious part of our global heart. They are a part of the human quilt, where every panel is a wondrous representation of a unique and magnificent life.

This writing is offered, as was the quilt panel, in loving memory of Rev. Richard H. Barnes.