Join the Sisters of The Abbey of St. Joan and friends in a day-long vigil to commemorate World AIDS Day. We will be creating memorial space in the Calamus Auditorium at Gay City Health Project that will feature a living ancestral altar (see below for more information), a memorial wall, candle dedications, a musical history of HIV, and more.
We’ll be there all day, so come for as short or as long as you’d like. Help us to remember those who came before us, and to remind ourselves of the shared responsibility we have for the future.
The Sisters’ Annual Walking Wake will begin at the Vigil. Look for more information to come.
LIVING ALTAR: HONORING THOSE WHO CAME BEFORE US
A living altar is an effective and beautiful way for a group of people to make a connection with those who have passed away, to remember them, learn from them, to look again upon them with love and thereby strengthen ourselves for the work before us we’ve yet to do in this world.
By setting our living altar, we will honor with a touch of whimsy those in the community who have passed, who have come before us, who have shaped our lives individually or collectively, who in some way have affected and were affected by the HIV epidemic.
Every person who visits the altar may bring something to place on the altar in memory of someone, so that it grows and changes with each person’s visit as a living portrait, a shifting snapshot of our spiritual ancestry, a communal vision of a past we all share in, but have yet to truly see.
WHAT YOU MAY BRING TO PLACE ON THE ALTAR
Anything. Yes, anything.
If it holds meaning for you or represents to you the person who has passed away, it is an appropriate object. Pictures or photos, (even photocopies of photos) are wonderful, direct ways to remember and honor the dead. Choose pictures that have meaning for you – and if the photos happen to have the living in them as well as the dead, that’s okay. All photos will be looked after, no ancestor will be lost or unattended.
You may also use an item that may have been the person’s or something that they liked– a piece of jewelry, a dish, their favorite book, a stuffed animal, their favorite food, their favorite beverage, art they made, favorite clothing, something with their favorite colors, glitter, cigarettes, candies, makeup, poetry, toys, dolls, money, letters, love notes, flowers, beads, statues, stones, candles, fabrics, symbols.
Listen to your inner voice. You will know what to bring.
Also, bear in mind that you can honor anyone you like at this living altar. If you have a deceased pet, go ahead and include them. Someone doesn’t have to be a blood relative or even human to be part of our connected spiritual ancestry. It may even be someone you have never met, such as the ancestors of the land where we live, but who we want or need claim as family nonetheless.