I still remember why I decided to start getting up in the morning to run. I literally NEVER ran before a few years ago, except for the few times I was punished in gym class or something. But I had a series of health things happen that helped me realize that I was not in good shape. I was getting bad headaches a lot, feeling really lethargic and tired most of the time, and even had a few fainting spells here and there. I had gained a good bit of weight. It took facing the hard reality of what “actually was” in my life…and it wasn’t very pretty.
Often, it takes moments like this for us to “wake up” to the world as it really is. As I wrote last week, the world goes on, whether we are awake to it or not.
There is a lot of talk today about being “awakened”, or “getting woke”, or “staying woke” to what is going on around us in the world. In the very least, conversations like these can help us realize something: we are incredibly limited by our own perspective, and part of this limitation is simply not being present to see, feel, hear, and touch the world around you. It is, in part, choosing to sleep-in, to press snooze, or to settle into that favorite spot on your couch. It is staying asleep while the world is awake and active right outside your door.
But for many of us, we have come face to face with the reality of the world, and it has moved us into action.
We have been roused by the stories of the brothers, sisters, and friends we have connected with through service. We have been stirred by the fact that HIV is still an epidemic in Baltimore City, where 1 in 41 people is living with HIV and the highest rates of new infections are found in teenagers and young adults. I have lost sleep when I consider that the leading indicators for new HIV infections are all related to poverty (no high school education, low life-expectancy, low income-level, residence, etc.). And I have become wide-eyed and shocked as I hear story after story of people who have experienced the pain of stigma and discrimination, many times specifically within their faith community.
This epidemic of HIV, of health inequity, and of stigma is preventable. Another way of saying it is this: it doesn’t have to be this way and we can do something about it.
This was the same message of hope that I needed to hear when facing my own reality of poor health. It doesn’t have to be this way and I can do something about it. So I did. I named it. And I decided to move forward, freshly awakened to my present challenges but also waking up to the hope for a new future.
And that meant waking up the next morning to begin to change what I could change.
At HopeSprings, we call this Awakening–coming aware to the realities that we face surrounding HIV, no matter how overwhelming, scary, or uncomfortable. It is in that place where we hear a call; an invitation to respond faithfully to this epidemic.
Why do we wake up? Because we cannot “un-see” the new realities we’ve seen and we hope that change is possible.
So, what do we do next?
That is exactly the right question! And we will begin to explore that more next week…
Remember, you can #Run4Hope with me at the Baltimore Running Festival on Oct 20th. Create your own fundraiser page here.
Or, if you want to support me, you can give here. All donations are completely tax deductible and go directly to HopeSprings.