As I walked through the doors of the Ananda Meditation Temple in Bothell on Monday night, I was transported to another time and place.
It’s easy to escape from the intense work day within the walls of this peaceful place with the blue roof reaching toward the sky.
However, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, things were more inspiring than ever as members of the Ananda Sangha (assembly) read — softly and loudly at times — from a King autobiography and sang songs with lyrics like, “We as a people will get to the promised land” and “Come sing the truth that all men are brothers.”
Along with a slideshow and video clips to match the participants’ words, you could almost follow in King’s footsteps as he journeyed across the U.S. and to India (visiting kindred spirit Mahatma Gandhi’s homeland) into history. The outspoken Baptist preacher was assassinated April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn.
But he was alive in spirit with the Ananda group on Monday night. When they passionately roared, “We shall overcome!” the crowd of about 50 attendees heard and felt King’s message loud and clear.
Larry Rider especially got into character when he angrily bellowed part of King’s speech in a Montgomery, Ala., church on Dec. 2, 1955, during a bus boycott (the previous day, Rosa Parks, a black seamstress, had been arrested after refusing to yield her seat on a bus to a white man):
“As you know, my friends, there comes a time when people get tired of being trampled over by the iron feet of oppression.”
“If we are wrong — God Almighty is wrong! If we are wrong, Jesus of Nazareth was merely a utopian dreamer and never came down to Earth! If we are wrong, justice is a lie!”
Rider was honored to be part of the ninth-annual presentation, which also focused on Gandhi (who was assassinated Jan. 30, 1948, in New Delhi, India): “You can feel his (King’s) skill, his power as an orator, as a speaker — his way of connecting with people with his body, his voice.
“The greatest things I come away with from this program is the extent to which Martin Luther King was inspired by Gandhi, the way he modeled his movement on Gandhi’s movement of non-violence — and the extent to which back then in the 1960s, as much as today, feeling that the power of brotherhood, of non-violence, of working together to overcome injustice is a powerful force.”
Added Ananda spiritual director Hriman (Terry) McGilloway: “What really got us to do this was we realized that meditation, which is our thing, yoga, is at the heart of the courage that these two men had to give their lives — by their terms not by our perception.
“We realize that their life of prayer and meditation gave them the strength to do what must be done … and we believe in the years ahead that Americans will need to summon the courage to change our lifestyles.”
As she finished participating in the event, Stephanie Sandin found it hard to pinpoint just how she felt. After searching her mind, she narrowed it down to four of the most important words of the evening: inspiring, moving, uplifting and hopeful.