Introduction:  Last year, a week or two after we published the first chapter of Minding the Light, Fred Edera came to me and said, “I have a story.”  At that time, Fred was losing his ability to speak, but he was able to tell me the bare bones of the story below.  It was clear that Fred intended this story for Minding the Light, but it didn’t work for the chapter at the time.  I’ve held the story until it could work with a query, and now that it does, Peg has added some details from her personal knowledge.  I wish that I could show Fred his published story.  I hope that Someone will show it to him.  —Sally Gillette


I had been smoking for 30 years. I knew it was bad for my health, but I hadn’t been able to quit. I joined a support group, Nicotine Anonymous, and still, I couldn’t stop.


One day I asked Jesus to help me. I don’t even know why. I had never done anything like that. Suddenly I felt Jesus standing beside me. He put his arm around me and said, “I’ll help you quit smoking.” And he did, and I never smoked another cigarette.


I had attended West Hills Friends for at least 5 years by that time. I was not a believer. I just loved being with such good hearted, well intentioned people and good musicians with liberal views. From that day on I participated in the community more fully, more whole heartedly. I understood it all differently.

— Fred Edera, as told to Peg Edera and Sally Gillette