We Found A New Home

We are purchasing a beautiful new space in Middlebury.



One Step. One Breath. Moving Forward!

This mantra is my constant companion when opportunities arise. We have a wonderful one in front of us and we’re taking steady steps to make it a reality. We negotiated a good price and have a contract to purchase an amazing new home in Middlebury, which will become the hub of our braided practices. It’s an exciting next step on our path of community zen.

We have advanced swiftly and carefully through all of the requirements, inspections, and contingencies – truly one breath and one step at a time – paying attention and making sure we are doing things right. We are on schedule to sell our cherished Cornwall residence and finalize the purchase of the new Middlebury home on July 1.

A temple closing ceremony, one last celebration in the “Barndo,” and a community pot-luck supper are planned for the evening Wednesday, June 19th.
Your presence would mean a lot to us.

Where is the new community zen center?
The new building is located at 76 Court Street in Middlebury and has 4,600 square feet of well-constructed space. It is solid, up to date, beautiful and functional. Located within walking distance to Main Street, it’s conveniently close to the high school and just steps from supported housing, home to many of our Gather guests. With ample parking and a sizable lawn suitable for picnic tables and gardens, the building has long served as a reputable podiatry office for the University of Vermont Medical Center.

Why are we moving?
We have wanted to create an integrated community zen right where we live – one that has many dimensions to it, like meditation, study, and direct service, but where they are all woven together and integrated, and perhaps most importantly, very accessible to whoever wants to come together in a spiritual community of belonging.

What’s the timeline?
This will happen in stages.

  • Stage 1, July 1, 2024: We’ll relocate from the Cornwall home during the last two weeks of June. Our last retreat will be the Song of Zazen sesshin from June 13-15, followed by a temple closing dharma talk and Barndo community appreciation celebration on June 19th.  Upon finalizing the purchase on July 1st, we’ll immediately take full possession of the apartment, with Peggy moving in. The apartment will also offer two additional bedrooms for guests and prospective residents.
  • Stage 2, April 2025: For ten months, until April 2025, we will lease the main floor to the medical practice, a financial strategy enabling us to undertake this significant step. Gather will continue at 48 Merchants Row until our lease there expires in May 2025. Meditation and workshops will be held online and in person in various settings around town (see below).
  • Stage 3, Spring 2025: We’ll take a couple of months for modest renovations. To create a meditation hall and the new Gather, we’ll have to remove a few walls. Between now and then we will work with a builder to plan and then finance the renovation. We plan to open the community zen center and Gather in Summer of 2025. We’ll plan a big celebration for that.


How will the building be used?
Our current vision for the building is as follows:

  • We will create a welcoming and beautiful meditation hall and ritual space in the center of the building, representing our practice’s heart – the all-embracing Buddha realm.
  • Adjacent of the meditation hall to the right, a substantial area will evolve into the next version of Gather. With a year to transition, we’ll reflect on our three-year experience at Gather and make necessary adjustments. This section includes comfortable living room spaces, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a shower.
  • There will be activity rooms for regular workshops, trainings, and retreats themed around everyday mindfulness and community zen practice.
  • To the left of the meditation hall is a corridor of private rooms. Some could be used for home-based end of life companionship for people lacking housing, family support, or sufficient funds, and who need safe shelter and caring relationship at end of life. These requests have been frequent in recent years. The rooms are pleasantly sized with natural light and garden views, also serving as additional guest accommodations when not in use for companionship care.
  • Further along the corridor, a space will house our library of books on Buddhism, Zen, inter-spirituality, and community building.
  • Near the meditation hall there is a practice-conversation (dokusan) room, an administrative office, and at the end of the hallway a utility room that is set up for laundry facilities as well as technology infrastructure.
  • The upper level houses a three-bedroom apartment with a separate entrance for longer-term practitioners as well as visiting Zen students and guests as space allows.
  • Outside is a spacious yard with room for picnic tables and gardens, and a nicely situated parking lot that will accommodate guests to the center.

Of course, there are a lot of conversations and decisions ahead of us. As community zen practitioners we will listen intently and strive to meet the community’s needs within our passions, interests and capacity, and the skillful means that deepen our collective awakening to the interconnected oneness of life.

Here’s how you can help.
Firstly, I truly believe in the power of a good-willed, joyful, nurturing, and expansive mindset (Dogen’s “Three Minds”). Your support in embracing this significant transition is immensely valuable, as it signifies the sangha’s woven vision for community zen.

Your financial backing is also critically supportive. A local bank has approved us to bridge the Cornwall sale’s proceeds and the 76 Court Street purchase price. With current interest rates (9%), opting for a loan is costly, but it’s a path we’re prepared to take should immediate fundraising fall short. Assistance in the form of donations or other creative financing options you may be able to offer would be welcomed for reducing the size and cost of this loan, especially as we anticipate renovation costs prior to transitioning to the public space next year. We plan to economize over the coming months to fund as much of the renovation as possible. Please contact me if you want to talk about creative financing or a large gift.

What will our schedule look like going forward?
The coming year will be exciting as we move toward full occupancy of 76 Court Street. I eagerly anticipate the day we name and dedicate our new community zen temple and open its doors to the broader community. In the interim, we will adopt a semi-nomadic approach while maintaining a steadfast and uninterrupted practice:

  • Gather will stay at 48 Merchants Row.
  • Online offerings will include meditation, ceremonies, and retreats.
  • Dharma Talks will be offered online, with local speakers hosted in-person at Gather.
  • Starting in July, in-person meditation will be held each morning, Wednesday through Sunday at 7:00 am at Otter Creek Yoga Studio at Marbleworks (thank you to sangha friend, Joanna Colwell!)
  • We are in conversations for a venue for our annual  Rohatsu Sesshin, with registration opening soon.
  • Gather Rohatsu (service-based sesshin) will be held at Gather, with registration opening soon.

We’ll announce everything on our website and in the newsletter. You can always email us at info@breadloafmountainzen.org

Expression of Gratitude
This next step on the path would never have been possible without the courageous and generous first benefactors of Bread Loaf Mountain Zen Community. With trusting hearts and a desire to see good things happen, they gave us our first beloved building and practice home. Our new home is being born from this original generosity, and we will carry with us all of the warmth, care, friendship and trust that went into creating what we have today. A deep and endless bow of gratitude to all the original “friendly schemers,” the partners and benefactors who gave rise to this unique expression of love and dharma.

I feel moved to end this long note with a dedication of merit.  I am profoundly aware of the privilege and fortune that make opportunities like this possible. The reasons behind them are vast, complex, and somewhat mysterious. We must not squander them. Let’s put good and healing actions in motion for the many people who are hurting today and for future generations of community-minded people who will seek to do good for others. As we take these next steps, I invite the sangha to dedicate our work, lives, and resources to building the beloved community across all realms, here, there, and everywhere.  May it be so.

Heart to heart,

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