Kimberly Vrudny

Participant 03

In 30/30 Participants, Open Arms of Minnesota, United States on August 12, 2010 at 7:45 am

Blinded by an infection, “Participant 03” is a public policy student who advocates for those living with disabilities. HIV has taught him about the beauty and fragility of life.

“I am so grateful and blessed for the richness that fills my life today.” That may seem like an odd statement to begin a reflection on how HIV/AIDS has affected my life over the past 20+ years, but to be absolutely honest with myself, it is a completely true statement. Oh sure, I could choose to focus on the misery and physical pain I experienced as I lived HIV/AIDS in the mid 1990s, and surely no one would blame me. But, they are not how I choose to “remember.” It does me little benefit to dwell on them today. Even as I now live as a total blind person, one more “gift” that HIV/AIDS presented me with, I would not be alive and in the throngs of wonderful opportunities had those experiences never happened.

I believe we each have incredible power to control how we choose to approach life, and how we choose to move ahead with that life. Although we may not have complete control over what happens in our lives, we certainly can control how we react to the experiences. To me, the beauty of the lives that have intertwined with mine in the name of HIV/AIDS, the beauty of those fragile relationships I am the recipient from because of HIV/AIDS and my perceived role as one who continues to live in spite of so very many others who did not get the same opportunity as I, gives me pause each and every time my inclination begins to take on a negative tone; instead, to me, the best way I can honor those who have gone before me and who died from HIV/AIDS, honor those who taught me humility, compassion, and dignity as they took their last breath, and honor the very meaning of life itself, is to move forward while being cognizant of the richness that does still fill my privileged life today.

Even amidst my loss of sight, I can see and feel that I stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before me. It is therefore essential for me to move forward intentionally and purposefully, choosing to focus on the countless incredible opportunities ahead and thankful for the gifts I have been given all while being ever mindful and thankful for my past . . . for without my past, I would cease to be who I am today.

A Candle Lighting Prayer

O, Creator of Divine Light
Be upon us.
Gather from the Universe,
All the Elements needed
To create this Symbol
Of Your Divine Presence.
Let this Light Shine Brightly,
Here in this Sacred Space.
O, Creator of  Divine Light
Let this Light Shine Brightly
And Illuminate the Places of Darkness.
Let this Light Shine Brightly
Allow that which was Hidden
To be now Held.
Held by warmth,
Gentle Comfort,
Caressing, with Peace and Harmony
The shadows All now Gone.
O, Divine Light,
Creator of the Universe,
Come upon us.
And Here, in this Sacred Space,
Be with us,
Be us,

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