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Life is funny.  And sad, and touching, and poignant, and heartbreaking.  But this evening it was funny in a way.  I was driving home from the PIP (people in peril) shelter in Worcester, where I had observed and then performed a couple of HIV tests.  The PIP shelter is like a thousand other wet shelters in urban settings – it’s dirty, and smells a bit, and has an immense amount of humanity inside.  I was a little sad driving home, because what I had seen at PIP was what I had seen in lots of other places before.  We had 5 folks come through for testing, one of whom was a woman about my age.  She was falling asleep during the test, completely zoned out on whatever she had injected a couple of hours ago.  She was getting tested because of unsafe behavior around needle sharing and sex.  What really was the difference between us that led us to such drastically different places in life?  Maybe I did a little better in school, or she grew up with less family support, or I was sheltered from something that ended up sucking her in and taking over her life.  But whatever it was, we were now on opposite sides of this HIV test in this shelter. I felt old and resigned, and I’m not even that old and shouldn’t be resigned, because I haven’t seen everything there is to see. 

But I was driving through Worcester, feeling sad about the different ways people try to escape life and injure themselves in the process, when I looked off to my right and saw a beautiful, breathtaking rainbow.  Immediately I was reminded that rainbows truly are signs for hope and promise.  And I was reminded that the harm reduction model, which I have such a hard time with sometimes, is seeing that hope and promise just a little bit at a time instead of all at once.  The end product is no less beautiful, but the journey to get to it might take a bit more patience.