Something in me knew I needed to finish this book I had begun over a year ago . . . When We Rise by activist Cleve Jones.

In it, Jones chronicles his ‘life in the movement’ for equal protections under the law for all human beings, especially for LGBTQ+, especially in light of the pandemic of the 1990s (and certainly still today).

Three Cincinnatians are involved with the book . . .

  • St. Xavier High School grad Paul Whitlatch – the editor of the book (!) through the international press Hachette,
  • Jim Obergefell – the man whose case taken to the Supreme Court & welcomed Marriage Equality as the law of the land,
  • St. Xavier High School graduate Bill Kraus – assistant to Harvey Milk, after Milk’s assassination Kraus had a key role in stemming the rolling tide of HIV/AIDS, especially by pushing the Reagen administration to release funds for research.

In this very direct and honest memoir, Jones tells of his experience with the pandemic of HIV/AIDS and how close it hit home in his own life and the life of the world. Every day, more friends becoming ill, more friends dying.

The situation today with our own pandemic — the coronavirus — is very serious, of course, in all too many ways. Our situation is very different from the HIV/AIDS crisis, and yet there are things we can learn from the pandemic of HIV/AIDS. According to, “32.0 million people have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic” through 2018.

While I was pretty young to know the early days of HIV/AIDS, a colleague from my part-time job in high school died of AIDS. A pastor I got to know well as a youth I think also died of AIDS, though of course the secrecy around the disease prevented us from knowing for sure.

In his memoir, Jones invites us to know something of the horror of the constant barrage of illness and death during the height of the pandemic . . . and also something of the life and hope that came once something of prevention and ‘cure’ arrived:

“On August 13, 1997, I was shopping in Guerneville and stopped at the Rainbow Cattle Company to pick up a copy of the Bay Area Reporter. The headline took my breath away and I grabbed a stool, sitting down hard. There it was, in big red letters just below the masthead: NO OBITS. Others wandered in to have a drink and get the paper. We wept.” (p 242)

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Our time with this new pandemic will come, when we can celebrate that there are no more deaths from it worldwide on any one given day . . . though such a day and such a celebration looks to be a long way off, months in fact.

I have named today DAY ZERO, YEAR ZERO. The new beginning. Perhaps you’ll join me?  I’ve been asking myself these questions, letting the answers arrive in their own wild ways, in their own slow time . . .


What is it I’ve always wanted to do with my life?


Where do I discover passion, curiosity, desire for life?


Where do I find myself creative, expressive, free?



As we lean into the new reality of our current pandemic, may we be so wise as to leave behind what no longer serves us and embrace what does. (For me, I’m leaving behind the hourly news reports in favor of checking in twice a day, checking in on Facebook / social media 2-3 times a day instead of god-knows-how-many-times in years past…leaving behind all the time-zappers that take me away from what I’m most passionate about.)

As we lean into the new reality of our current pandemic, may we be ever-ready to cultivate the wealth inside one’s own self, the wealth of love of friends and family and our passions, the wealth of being able to grow our own food and accept the tremendous gift from the earth that feeds us daily . . .

to participate in the grand awakening that is happening now.

Sit.  Stare into space.  And know.  Consider joining our In-Your-Own-Place 12:15pm Meditators Club. There’s information on Facebook, though you of course don’t need that information to sit on your own — in your own unique style — and feel the love of friends gathering all over the world, in this group and outside this group . . . each in one’s own way is awakening to all that is, THE ALL.

DAY ZERO, YEAR ZERO.  Beginning today, what will you allow your life to be?

find the gift . . .