A Community Living Room
Bread Loaf Mountain Zen Community hosts a Zen Peacemaker project in downtown Middlebury called Gather. It emerged out of bearing witness to the joys and sorrows right where we live. We serve the neighborhood by maintaining a welcoming space for people from all parts of the community to come together and get to know one another. It’s a simple idea: welcome everyone!
Gather is based on some important Buddhist principles:
- There are no insiders and outsiders – everyone is buddha. Everyone, regardless of what they bring or need is welcomed in the same way, as a buddha bowing to a buddha. That means we see everyone as naturally creative, resourceful, and whole. It allows us to intentionally blur the lines between givers and receivers, helpers and helped, servers and those who are served. Labels are useful, but they can also separate from another. Instead, we try to see each other fresh and new, as whole beings with rich and interesting lives.
- Everyone is welcomed to give and receive and be the gift. Come as you are, bring your whole self. Nothing else is needed.
- Love, respect, and dignify all beings. This starts with being interested in each other, growing in empathy, seeing with compassion, and experiencing what it is to be in the one-body-energy that gives life to our lives. Expanding the circle of belonging, bonding with neighbors, we experience the interconnectedness of life right here, close to home.
What Happens at Gather?
Gather is perfectly located in the town center. We are fortunate to have found a place in the middle of things. Each day we simply open the doors just as we open the temple, with care. We are open to whoever shows up, accepting what is offered, what is received, what is requested. In this way we bear witness, and allow actions to arise. We offer daily midday mindfulness, game and art activities, grief groups, community celebrations, recovery meetings, community acupuncture and hand reflexology, cooking or quilting days, conversations over coffee and cake, study groups, lots of laughter, hearty lunches, and more.
If you’d like to support Gather, you can make a donation through our giving page.
If you would like to learn about how to become a Gather volunteer, contact Colleen Jishu Brown. There are lots of opportunities, including residency at Bread Loaf Mountain where you can support the day-to-day community events as part of our Zen practice!
Contact us at friends@GatherOnTheGreen.org.