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From reader Peterr:

I have a friend, now retired, who served as a pastor in the Castro in SF during the 70s, 80s and 90s. I happened to be visiting at his church on New Year’s Eve at the end of 1995.

The time came in the service for the announcements, and he mentioned all the usual things (so and so needs some volunteers for next week’s lunch at the Senior Center, etc.). Then he got choked up, and everyone wondered what was up.

“I was looking at the church’s book of ‘parochial records’ – all the baptisms, weddings, funerals, and such – and I realized that in 1995, we had no AIDS-related funerals. None. I can remember YEARS when there wasn’t a single DAY that I wasn’t conducting a funeral or scheduling a funeral, and in this past year, we have had none. Not one.

“It’s been a good year.”

The parish sat stunned, until one Old Queen stood up and started to applaud. Soon we were all standing, tears running down our faces.

It was a good year, indeed.

I cry again, when I think of Africa. Their year? Not so good. It’s not going to be good there any time soon, and we (as a nation) are not doing much to help speed things up.

But I have hope. You’ve got to have hope. More than that, you’ve got to spread it around.

Amen. And here is to more good years…for the whole of the world.

(And do yourself a favor, and click through every single link of David Ehrenstein’s in the comments of the last post.  So much loss…and still, so much hope.  It is the compassion and the hope that is the best of us.)