When we came to West Concord Union Church in 1973, our pastor was Forster Freeman, and his wife was Julie Freeman. Until that time my understanding of God was fairly traditional… primarily acquired from family and a good Methodist Sunday School…Loving Father…Ruler of all creation…Prime Mover…a distant target of my prayers. I had never thought deeply about where He might be found, either out there in the world, or inside of me. Nor had I ever considered calling upon God to join me in my day-to-day activities.
While Forster was an important influence in my faith experience, I think that it was Julie who opened my eyes to the possibilities of living in God’s presence. She was the first person I ever knew who suggested that if I wanted a parking space, I should pray for it. Although she did not profess to fully know God, she repeatedly spoke about experiencing the presence of God as light. In fact as “old timers” will remember, prior to one of our sanctuary modifications, the ceiling of the chancel was flat. Julie would stand in this area and tell us it was filled with light…filled with the presence of God and the Holy Spirit. There were many doubters among us, but if you come up after the service, you will see that when the ceiling was removed we discovered a skylight in the roof. It did not appear in any of our blueprints…but Julie wasn’t surprised, she knew there was light in this space. She challenged us to invite the light of God to enter our daily activities.
I am a semi-retired vocational rehabilitation counselor. I help people with all sorts of physical, emotional, and psychological disabilities prepare for and obtain employment. We are a state agency so there can be no religious focus to our activities but as I seek to empower some of the neediest individuals in our society, a practice begun in the “Julie Freeman days” sustains me. When I meet each new client; when I feel helpless in the face of overwhelming need; when I am disgusted by individuals criminal activity; when I am deeply depressed by the life situations of my clients; and when I am angry at employers unwilling to hire a well qualified individual with a disability, I pause and visualize the individuals and situations surrounded and filled with the Light of God.