Posted in From the Editor
on April 4, 2014 11:22 am EDT
It Happened in a Sacred Space ...
"I was standing about two feet from an elderly man who had caught my eye early on."
Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel, Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA; www.morehousecollegealumni.com.
I was at the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel on Apr. 3, 2014, for Atlanta-based Morehouse College's Crown Forum Induction Ceremony for the MLK Jr. Board of Preachers, Board of Sponsors and Collegium of Scholars. I was waiting backstage near an area where the inductees and members of the Parliament of World Religions--Chicago architect Suzanne Morgan included--were going into a room to take off their robes before a luncheon that was to follow. Suzanne was gracious enough to invite me to attend the luncheon with her, both of us recently joining an American Institute of Architects (AIA) Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture (IFRAA) Collaboration committee under Chico, Calif.-based stained glass artist Elizabeth Devereaux.
I was standing about two feet from an elderly man who had caught my eye early on. He was very calm and radiant, and very pleasant to stand and wait with, although we shared only glances, no words.
As we stood and waited, a young African American minister and his wife rushed up with a smartphone in their hands. The young minister's hands were shaking and he said, "Mr. Gandhi, please, can I have my picture taken with you?" (My eyes got as big as quarters probably, and the elderly gentleman simply nodded his head politely, looked down humbly, stood for the picture, and the minister shook his hand and thanked him profusely, and he and his wife scurried off looking at the picture on their smartphone.)
I realized he was someone very important and probably a member of the Gandhi family, obviously. I didn't try to speak to him, but enjoyed continuing to stand there with him until Suzanne emerged from the back and was ready to go to lunch.
Some research ensued yesterday when I got back to my office. I found a name in my program of 2014 Class of Inductees into the MLK Jr. Board of Preachers, Sponsors and Collegium of Scholars, it was Dr. Arun Manilai Gandhi. I looked him up online and found his picture and knew that this was the man I had been standing near after the event, waiting outside the dressing area, and who had struck me with his peacefulness and presence.
Dr. Arun Manilai Gandhi, courtesy of en.wikipedia.org.
Here is what I learned of him, in a snapshot: Dr. Arun Manilai Gandhi was born in 1934. He is the fifth grandson of Mohandas (Mohatma) Gandhi through his second son Manilai. He is Hindu with universalist views and works closely with Christian priests and others. He advocates for non-violence and currently lives in Rochester, N.Y. As a young man he lived with his grandfather Gandhi in India from 1946 until the assassination in 1948. Here's an excerpt from one of his quotes: "We have to change ourselves if we want to change the world."
Dr. Arun Manilai Gandhi was born in 1934. He is the fifth grandson of Mohandas (Mohatma) Gandhi through his second son Manilai.
I would never have known who I was standing near to yesterday if the young pastor had not run up, said his name, and asked for the picture. Simply amazing, and a blessing.