Middlebury’s Community Living Room: GATHER


What’s Gather, you ask? 

Gather is a comfortable, welcoming, and free-of-charge gathering place that serves the neighborhood. Gather is a comfort zone for everyone, but especially those who deal with isolation, loneliness, or who could just use a listening friend. It is a hub of healing community. At Gather, people will find caring friends and neighbors.

While not a church or temple, Gather is based on some important Buddhist principles, because it is a project created by Bread Loaf Mountain Zen Community. Here are the principles that guide it:

  • There are no insiders and outsiders. Everyone, regardless of what they bring or need is welcomed in the same way.  There is no distinction between giver and receiver, helper and helped, server and served. We won’t slip into labels that separate us. Instead we’ll appreciate our similarities and differences.
  • Everyone is welcomed to give and receive and be the gift. Come as you are, bring your whole self. Nothing else is needed. It is totally free. We aren’t selling anything or getting you to join anything. Gather is for everyone regardless of what you believe, care about, how you identify, or what you think about the world. Our only belief is that everyone deserves respect, kindness, care, and attention.
  • Love all beings. This starts with being interested in each other, growing in empathy, seeing with compassion, and experiencing what it is to be with each other in ways that give life to our lives. Expanding the circle of belonging, bonding with neighbors, we experience the interconnectedness of life right here, close to home.

Gather is located in the town center of Middlebury, on the Green. Each day it simply opens its doors with care, and is open to whoever shows up, accepting what is offered, what is received, what is requested, and allow actions to arise.  Gather offers opportunities for each of us to meet new people, welcome everyone right where they are, and engage in  mutual hospitality. Additionally, Gather offers …

  • daily midday mindfulness (12-12:20)
  • music jams each Saturday morning (11-1:30)
  • a circle of joys and concerns each Sunday (9-10 am)
  • ongoing conversations over coffee, cake and healthy snacks, all day
  • weekly or bi-weekly card game events, grief groups, community celebrations, recovery meetings, community acupuncture, hand reflexology, art and quilting activities, knitting and rock painting classes, and so much more.

And, yes, all is free.

Please stop by, and if you would like to get involved or schedule an event, contact Colleen Brown at her BLMZC email address: jishu@breadloafmountainzen.org. You can also talk with fellow CVUUS-ers who serve as Gather hosts and/or offer activities there. That group includes  Dinah Smith, Margy Levine Young, Jordan Young, Abi Sessions, Tom Morgan, Rosalie Cryan and Barnaby Feder.

See the wonderful story about their efforts in the Addison Independent here.