The day before World AIDS Day, The Open Door Community's tradition is to join the National AIDS Memorial Grove team in hosting 'The Light in the Grove.' Our friendship with the AIDS Grove has been cultivating for five years as, monthly, we head back into the Grove to serve, side-by-side, with the local HIV/AIDS impacted community. As time has gone by, we have discovered that "we" are becoming "us" and that hope, along with some of the most beautiful vegetation on the West Coast, is growing in the Grove. In this post, Steve Arnett reflects on his experience of serving at "The Light in the Grove" and asks us what it might look like we became a community known for saying "Yes!"
Saturday afternoon a group from Open Door loaded up in vehicles and headed for Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. After a few wrong turns, we arrived at a little slice of heaven. Walking down the hill, we began to take in more of the scene. Caterers and event staff scurrying about, cargo vans and trucks unloading gear, LED lights, dancers and a stunning transparent tent. This would be our workplace for the next few hours.
We received our directions and were set into motion. I was a busser. It was my job to collect used dishes. Is bussing a glorious position? Does it require any special gifting? Absolutely not, but I gave it my everything. Did I get my hands dirty? Did I worry all night about dropping a full platter of dirty dishes? Did I love every minute of it? You betchya.
For me, saying yes to service opportunities has often been fueled by my desire for justice. Light in the Grove was no different. The AIDS community is/has been one that is misunderstood, avoided, and often looked down upon. What we forget is the family, friends, children, significant others who were left behind as someone’s LIFE was taken from them by a global pandemic. And we, as a group of people who are trying to love others as Jesus loved us, just had the opportunity to get our hands dirty and serve these people... HOW COOL IS THAT?!
After getting home, Brooke and I were processing our evening and she asked how the experience was for me. My response was, “It was no big deal.” She looked at me puzzled. I explained to her that I saw a need, said yes, and gave it my everything. It has become my normalcy to position myself in a role of service. I don't want or require recognition. I just want to love on folks like Jesus would have. God, over a long period of time, has turned my heart into one that loves to serve. Without Him, I'm certain my life would look very different.
What if we were a community of yessayers... humans who set aside our political/religious/personal preferences and filled the needs of others? What if serving was no big deal? What if it became our normalcy?