Rosemarie Freeney Harding (1930–2004) was a spiritual leader in the Black Freedom Movement of the 1960s. Her Mennonite faith shaped her commitment to radical hospitality, healing, and transformation. She describes the interracial community she and her husband Vincent formed at Mennonite House in Atlanta:
One of my first tasks as a young organizer in the Southern Freedom Movement was developing an interracial social service project and community center called Mennonite House in Atlanta, Georgia, in the early 1960s. . . . In addition to our work of placing volunteers with various movement organizations, training young activists, and coordinating early efforts at interracial dialogue and reconciliation, Mennonite House became an important place of retreat for many who were struggling and sacrificing so much to transform the South and the nation. Sometimes movement people would call us from the bus station, and [my husband] Vincent would drive over and pick them up, and they’d stay for a few days or a few weeks, because they needed a place to get some rest. Because of my mother’s example, I understood very clearly how important it was to have spaces of refuge in the midst of struggle. Spaces of joy and laughter, good food and kind words. In fact, this kind of compassionate care is a transformative force in itself. As the Cape Breton novelist Alistair MacLeod [1936–2014] writes, “We are all better when we’re loved.”  . . .
Black people in Atlanta were intrigued with Mennonite House. This was something new—an interracial social service project tied to the freedom movement, where most of the volunteers were white and the directors were Black, and everybody lived together in the same house. In 1961, this was definitely new. Seeing my husband and me in the leadership roles made Black folks glad and proud. And it impressed them to know that our church (which most had never heard of) had sent us to represent the denomination. I didn’t realize the significance of all of this until later. I was just happy to be there. . . .
In the early 1960s, Mennonite House was one of the places, perhaps one of the few, where interracial conversation and community was being consciously created in the South.
Freeney Harding’s activism was inspired by her abiding and mystical experience of God’s love and justice. Rachel Harding recalls her mother’s vision:
There is no scarcity. There is no shortage. No lack of love,
of compassion, of joy in the world. There is enough.
There is more than enough.
Only fear and greed make us think otherwise.
No one need starve. There is enough land and enough food.
No one need die of thirst. There is enough water. No one
need live without mercy. There is no end to grace. And we
are all instruments of grace. The more we give it, the more
we share it, the more we use it, the more God makes. There
is no scarcity of love. There is plenty. And always more.
This is the universe my mother lived in. 
 Paraphrase of Alistair MacLeod, No Great Mischief (New York: W. W. Norton, 2000), 283.
 Rachel E. Harding, “Daughter’s Précis,” foreword to Remnants, by Rosemarie Freeney Harding, [ix].
Rosemarie Freeney Harding with Rachel Elizabeth Harding, Remnants: A Memoir of Spirit, Activism, and Mothering (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015), 120, 127, 135–136.
Explore Further. . .
- Listen to Jacqui Lewis interview civil rights leader Ruby Sales.
- Learn more about this year’s theme Nothing Stands Alone.
- Meet the team behind the Daily Meditations.
Image credit: Carrie Grace Littauer, Untitled 11 (detail), 2022, photograph, Colorado, used with permission. Arthur Allen, Untitled 4 (detail), 2022, photograph, France, used with permission. Claudia Retter, Florence Morning (detail), photograph, used with permission. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge the image.
This week’s image appears in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story.
Image inspiration: She sees the leaves in the ice, gathers the small, unnoticed things, and cherishes her findings. We accept the mystic’s invitation to sit and ponder.
Story from Our Community:
I see the self-emptying love of Jesus on display daily in the news reports from Ukraine; the woman who remains in danger in a besieged city because her elderly mother is unable to walk down the stairs of their apartment building; the people who escape to the border only to return to Ukraine to help others. And also in Poland, where they welcome the refugees with opens arms, in spite of the personal strain. Or in the people from European countries who travel to the train stations holding signs saying how many they can accommodate in their home and taking them in. I ask myself: what am I willing to do? —Jo S.
Prayer for our community:
God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough, because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.