Pray/Meditate With People Living With AIDS

From Being a Blessing -- 54 Ways You Can Help People Living with AIDS

When you visit, it is often very helpful to pray or to meditate with a person who is ill. Always ask the person who is ill if it is okay for you to offer a prayer for his or her renewed strength and healing and invite the person to join you in the prayers if the answer is affirmative. The words, though important, are not as significant as the message that it is okay to pray, to ask for help from a Higher Power, and to do so both alone and together. It is also a good way of leading into discussions that will be very meaningful both for the person who is ill and for the visitor. Prayer can be used to help calm a person and to introduce the idea of meditations for healing and inner peace.

There's a really beautiful note on prayer in Brakhot 13a:

"The Holy One seems to be far away, but nothing is nearer than God. Let a person pray in an undertone, and God will hear that person's prayer. It is as if one whispers one's thoughts in the ear of a friend. Can you have a God nearer than this, who is as near to people as the mouth to an ear?"
(The Talmud Anthology: Louis Newman, p. 341.)

There are a lot of sources you could use for prayers. I have attached just a few prayers. Keep a collection of them, you never know which will fit a particular situation. Whenever possible, pray both for the individual and for all others who are ill. This allows the person who is ill to continue to hope for others as well as for him or herself. Even if one's personal prayers are answered in ways other than one hopes for, if one prays for others, perhaps those prayers will be answered.

Isaiah 54:10


For the mountains may move,
And the hills be shaken,
But My loyalty shall never move from you,
Nor My covenant of friendship be shaken,
Said God who takes you back in love.


* * *

Mi Shebeirach


Mi shebeirach a-vo-tei-nu
M'kor ha-b'ra-cha l'i-mo-tei-nu,
May the Source of Strength
Who blessed the ones before us,
Help us find the courage
To make our lives a blessing,
And let us say, Amen.

Mi shebeirach i-mo-tei-nu
M'kor ha-b'ra-chah l'a-vo-tei-nu,
Bless those in need of healing
With r'fu-a sh'lei-ma,
The renewal of body,
The renewal of spirit,
And let us say, Amen.
(Debbie Friedman and Dorah Setel)


* * *

May the One Who blessed our ancestors, Sarah and Abraham, Rebecca and Isaac, Rachel, Leah and Jacob, Moses, Miriam and Aaron, bless and heal (name) and all others touched by AIDS and related illness. Mercifully restore (him/her) to health and vigor. Grant insight to all those who bring healing, courage and faith to (name). Grant love and strength to us and to all who love a person living with AIDS. God, let Your Holy spirit rest upon all who are ill and comfort them. Speedily and soon, may we know a time of complete healing of body and spirit, and let us say: Amen.
(My translation)

* * *

Eternal God, near to all who call upon You, be with (name) as (s/he) combats AIDS; strengthen (her/his) faith in Your compassion. Grant (her/him) strength and courage to endure suffering and discomfort, and vision to see beyond the present moment. May it be Your will to bring (her/him) peace and healing even as (s/he) journeys through life with AIDS. Grant courage and wisdom to all who minister to (her/his) needs, may their hope and determination never wane. Heal us, God, and we will be healed; save us and we will be saved, for You are our hope and our strength. Amen.
(Author unknown)

* * *

El nah, refah nah lah (lo). God, please, heal her (him).

(Moses said this to God when Miriam was afflicted with leprosy. It's short and to the point.)
(Numbers 12:13)

* * *

Source of Life, we pray You:

Heal them.

Grant courage to those whose bodies, holy proof of Your creative goodness, are violated by the illness, pain and suffering of AIDS.

Heal them.

Grant strength and compassion to families and friends who give their loving care and support, and help them not to despair.

Heal them.

Grant wisdom to those who probe the deepest complexities of Your world, as they labor in the search for treatments and cures.

Heal them.

Grant clarity of vision and strength of purpose to the men and women entrusted with the responsibility for institutions and whole communities. Let them not be swayed by fear and hatred, but let them remember that their greatest obligations are to those least capable of being heard.

Heal them.

Grant insight to us all to understand that whenever death comes, we must accept it--but that before it comes, we must resist it, not only by prolonging life, but by making life truly worthy as long as it is lived.

Heal them and heal us all soon, in our own time, with the ultimate world-healing. Amen.

(author unknown)

* * *

Heal us, God, and we shall be healed. Save us, and we shall be saved. For You are our Praise. Send us complete healing for all of our illnesses, for You are our Nurturant and Loyal Source and Healer. You are a fountain of blessings, God, Who heals the sick.
(Rabbi Marcia Prager)

* * *

My God,
The life and soul which You placed within me are pure.
You breathed of Yourself into my flesh,
creating and forming in me a deep awareness of Your presence.
It is You who constantly arouse the desire to live within me.
Sometimes You take this hope from me,
only to renew it again and again,
that I may once more praise You my God and God of my people.
You are the origin of all that happens,
and every soul is a part of You.
Praised are You, Adonai,
constantly renewing life within me,
with Your breath of love.
(Translator unknown)

* * *

We are loved by an unending love.
We are embraced by arms that find us
even when we are hidden from ourselves.
We are touched by fingers that soothe us
even when we are too proud for soothing.
We are counseled by voices that guide us
even when we are too embittered to hear.
We are loved by an unending love.

We are supported by hands that uplift us
even in the midst of a fall.
We are urged on by eyes that meet us
even when we are too weak for meeting.
We are loved by an unending love.

Embraced, touched, soothed, and counseled
ours are the arms, the fingers, the voices;
ours are the hands, the eyes, the smiles;
We are loved by an unending love.

(Rabbi Rami Shapiro)

* * *

May you live to see your words fulfilled
May your destiny be for worlds still to come
And may you trust in generations past
and yet to be.
May your heart be filled with intuition
and your words be filled with insight.
May songs of praise ever be upon your tongue
and your vision be a straight path before you.
May your eyes shine with the light of holy words
and your face reflect
the brightness of the heavens.
(Talmud B'rachot 17A, translated by Rabbi Marcia Prager)

Prayer is powerful and gives strength. I have found, when visiting people who are ill, that they are very ready, willing and interested in having prayers said with and for them. Often people will tell me they don't believe in God, or don't believe in a God who responds to personal prayers, but what could it hurt? (In other words, an opening.) If praying becomes an invitation to discuss the issues of life and death, hope and healing God and God's love, then it serves its purpose.

Meditation with a person living with AIDS can also be very helpful (to both participants). If nothing else, meditation can bring a calm, a quiet to a person whose life is everything but. Boring as it may be, life in a hospital is far from calming, relaxing, or healing. There are a lot of really good source materials for meditating with a person living with AIDS, so I would suggest you get any of the following sources

The AIDS Book: Creating a Positive Approach, Louise Hay
The Color of Light, Perry Tilleraas
Healing Visualizations, Gerald Epstein
Heart Thoughts, Louise Hay
Jewish Mediation, Aryeh Kaplan
Peace, Love and Healing, Bernie Siegel
The Power is Within You, Louise Hay

Louise Hay's works are extremely helpful. She has also produced a number of excellent audiotapes for people to listen to and meditate with, as Bernie Siegel has also done. Using these tapes to reinforce your personal meditations with a person living with AIDS can be very helpful.

When Rabbi Glazer first called me, he told me that Richard was in the hospital, looked like he was going to die soon, and he (Rabbi Glazer) could not do that journey with him. So I started to visit Richard. He wasn't ready to die at that time, so we began doing healing meditations to calm him and bring him some peace from his pain. Richard told me his favorite place in the world was a beach in Spain. So we meditated with him visualizing himself on that beach, using the waves to bring in calm, peacefulness and healing and to remove from his body pain, disease, anxiety, fear, and other negative thoughts.

At my third visit Richard looked a little better, and I noticed that he was no longer hooked to an IV bag. So after we meditated I stopped at the nurse's station before, and they did not know who I was or what I was doing with Richard. I asked, "How is my friend Richard doing?" There were three nurses. One looked up and said, "Well, you know, he has AIDS." So now I knew more about her than about Richard. Another looked up and said, "I think he's doing better. I went in there this morning I looked at him, and I told him he looked like he was at the beach."

You just never know.

Final Thoughts

Future generations will turn to you and will ask, "What did you do to help end the AIDS crisis?" How will you answer them?

This book is just a beginning. Use the ideas included here, or any others you can come up with--I am sure there are more than 54 ways to help people living with AIDS. The important thing to remember is that people are dying out there--we have to act now, to respond actively and with as much effort and care as we can.

Patience is no virtue. According to our tradition, it's the opposite. We are told in Pirkei Avot that the work is great, and the time is short. It's not up to us to finish the job, but neither are we free not to get started at it. That's what the starfish story at the beginning of this book is all about. We cannot sit back and be patient. We cannot allow things to be wrong and do nothing about those things but be patient and (maybe) pray. We are commanded: Tzedek, tzedek tirdof--Justice, justice you must pursue. We are commanded to correct injustices and to make them right.

We cannot sit back and say we have to be patient when we talk about providing health care to all of the people in this country, young and old, well and ill. We cannot sit idly by and wait patiently for fairness, justice, and equality to come for all of the people of this land. We cannot allow communities to think they have the right to exclude and judge people based on the color of their skin, their gender, their sexual orientation or their illness. If the civil rights of one group can be denied because of who that group is or whom people love, all of our rights are in jeopardy. If a group of right-wing people in Alabama can determine that people living with AIDS have no civil rights, do we wait for them to determine that Jews (or other groups) similarly have no civil rights before we act in response?

We have to make things happen. We have to walk down the paths that lead to justice, even if it's an arduous journey. Getting onto that road, and journeying on that road, is the virtue, not patience. People in need of support of any kind--financial, emotional, spiritual, familial--people in need of healing, a helping hand or a personal touch are our responsibility. We are obligated to make our opinion known and to lend a hand.

Give to tzedakah. Pursue justice. Reach out your hand to help. We have no time to waste. We may not have to finish the job, but we certainly do have to get started at bringing justice into the world. Who knows? The justice we pursue today, the tzedakah we give, the stand we take, may be precisely what we would want when we or our loved ones are threatened or in need.

Job 11:17-18

Life will be brighter than noon,
You will shine, you will be like the morning.
You will be secure, for there is hope,
And, entrenched, you will rest secure.

This is an excerpt from Being A Blessing -- 54 Ways You Can Help People Living With AIDS. Published by Alef Design Group 800-845-0662

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