No Scarcity of Love

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.” [1] . . .  

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. [2] 

[1] Paraphrase of Alistair MacLeod, No Great Mischief (New York: W. W. Norton, 2000), 283. 

[2] 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.

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