Monday, May 18, 2009


Do you remember how it was when Rock Hudson died from AIDS? Everyone was afraid, confused and rumors on how AIDS was spread abounded. For a few years there, we were chasing our tails as we tried to educate ourselves about this horrific disease.

Back in 1990, the person I'm writing about, Secretary of Corrections Aaron Johnson, had an AIDS crisis of his own. What I mean is, that in his ninety-five prisons, inmates were entering the institutions with full-blown AIDS and no one knew how to treat them or what to do with them. The inmates themselves were shunned by other prisoners, and the administration didn't treat them any better. Dr. Johnson's first exposure to the horror of AIDS came the day he was summoned to the prison cell of a female inmate dying from HIV. She was placed in a cell at the end of a corridor. Dark, wool blankets were thrown over her bars so no one could see in, and when he walked under those blankets into her cell, he found this woman sitting on her stark cot, shriveled, sore-ridden, and comforted only by the two tatter photographs of her young children. It was in September and the woman had been given three months to live, and was begging the Secretary to allow her to spend her last Christmas at home with her children.

You'll have to read the book to see how that story ends, but I tell you this because, I don't know about you, but compared to this, I really don't think I've had to make any real hard decisions-- at least not ones like this. Not ones that affect others' lives in such a personal way. Also, not ones that are fraught with such a combination of emotions, ethics, compassion, and law. How does one make these kinds of decisions? Better yet, how does one make the right decision amidst the clamor of panic and fear? Aaron made his decision from a deep part of himself that belonged to God, and it didn't turn out to be so popular.

Today, let's pray for the strength to do the hard things, the right things...the God-things, even when the world wants us to sit down and simply be quiet.

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