Twenty years ago my husband and I welcomed our firstborn into the world, and the Ananda Portland meditation group became a true Ananda “colony”. There may have been other significant events in 1988, but I don’t remember them.
As we plan the 20 year anniversary celebration of Ananda Portland, my memories of those growing up years of the colony are all linked to my memories of growing children.
Our first full-time minister, Nitai, welcomed me, with babe in arms, to Sunday Service held in the room above the New Renaissance Bookshop. The tears of joy on that day were partly due to the presence of the little one in my arms, and partly due to the realization that my prayers for a “real” Ananda presence in Portland were answered.
Of course, my children have always known an Ananda presence here in Portland. They would tell you of going to the “blue church” (the first Ananda temple) and playing in the empty rooms while mom cleaned. They may remember the Christmas trees Ananda sold as a fundraiser.
They could certainly tell you of years of Sunday School, with their mom teaching, and the many friends made there. My son could tell you of a buddy made in grade school who will be getting married in the Ananda temple next month.
I could tell you how wonderful it is to have an entire apartment complex full of Ananda friends, my children would agree, and add that the pool is fun too.
I remember when a school was hoped for, but not yet a reality. Now I’ll be teaching in the Living Wisdom School this fall, which has enjoyed over 10 years of success.
I look into the joyful faces of newcomers as they walk through our beautiful temple and enjoy the classes, events and meditations that happen every day of the week, and I remember the days of meditating with a few brave souls in a small living room. My children may remember when the temple was torn up during a major remodel, but they can’t imagine having no temple at all.
Ananda has grown here in Portland, and we are looking forward to the next 20 years of growth and service. We envision a healing center, a yoga studio, more schools, more temples, and Ananda helping Portland to become a city of light, where spiritually centered living is a reality for thousands.
I’m grateful to be a part of this work and the opportunities we have here, and I’ll always remember those years “before”. I imagine my children laughing someday and saying, “Remember when we celebrated 20 years? That was fun, but the 50th is really something!”
In joyful friendship,