Author Archives: Wayne Gersen

Dana Donation

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Minutes from Tuesday All Sangha Meeting

In attendance:  Linda Clark, Wayne Gersen, Corlan Johnson, Karen Wynkoop, Gail Kuhl, Pat Maher, Richard Neugass, Bineke Oort, Bram Oort, Sami Saydjari, Joyce Solomon. 

Mindful Meeting Vow: read by Bineke

Joyce went over the guidelines of the meeting, and introduced the time-keeper (Karen) and note taker (Linda). 

Governance of the Sangha, overview: Board of Directors, Facilitator Committee, and Care Council.   Joyce reviewed the hand out on our sangha’s governance.  She emphasized that all three governing bodies are responsible for ensuring that we follow the Plum Village tradition and for keeping the sangha informed of practice opportunities and new ideas for deepening the spiritual growth of members.

The Board usually meets once a year in an open meeting, and focuses primarily on finances and major decisions such as moving our meeting place. The Facilitators meet quarterly. The Care Council has not met since Covid but will be re-activated. We read the mission statement on our own. 

See governance diagram attached for more details.  Further info is available upon request.

2. Details on the Care Council. New members? Wayne explained the Care Council began quite a few years ago. (Actually, in 2014) This Council addresses the “health of this organization.” Examples of the events the Council organized: New Years Eve gatherings; a guided walk (led by Ginger); a writing group (led by Jeff); picnics. The plan is to reconvene the group by the end of the calendar year or close to it. Ideas and members are welcomed; contact Wayne. 

3. Facilitator interest? Gail offered if anyone is interested in being a facilitator to please contact her or Joyce. 

4. Alternatives to Walking Meditation: mindful movements, qigong, yoga stretches. Any preferences? Ideas were presented to fit into this 20 minute time frame including singing. There seemed to be a preference for “mindful movements” as developed by Plum Village. Good advice to the facilitators. 

5. Optional activities on 5th Tuesday of the month meetings: Deep Relaxation; Touching the Earth; Sutra readings; other? Many activities are available. The Plum Village app yes a great resource. Lots of discussion about Deep Relaxation and how to make it work followed. A 5th Tuesday only happens about 3 times a year. A count of 7 out of 11 attendees would like to pursue optional activities. 

6. Feedback on Mail Chimps—what do you read? Want more or less? Videos? The majority attending really enjoy these weekly mailings. If the video is short, it is more likely watched. It was decided that the video should remain in this one mailing and not sent separately. Wayne shared a formatting idea from ListServe. 

7. Shorter readings so everyone will have the opportunity to read? No one minded not reading. A helpful idea was to start the reading at different parts of the circle. 

8. Time before/after the sit for new member orientation, other? A good discussion followed. The idea settled on: a facilitator to talk with the “newbie” at mindful chatting time, to offer a booklet to provide more information, and to answer questions. The process is often started via correspondence with Joyce when people first express an interest in attending and being put on the mailing list. (FYI, we have 244 people on the mailing list.)

9. Tutoring English with monastics. Gail explained their involvement with a nun from Blue Cliff. They converse with her about once a week, and explained it is a conversation or a chat. It’s casual, and a way for the monastic and lay person to get to know one another and, of course, to help the nun learn English. See Gail if you’re interested. 

10. How are we doing? Anything we’ve forgotten? Misc. comments? A lengthy discussion followed. A question asked was how did people find out about the Heart of the Valley Mindfulness Practice Center? How can we get the word out more so that people know about our sangha and that we welcome new people? 

Currently, we are listed weekly in the “Valley News,” and we are included on the Plum Village international sangha directory and a special directory for on-line sanghas.  Also, our MPC web site comes up when people do a google search for words like “mindfulness” and “meditation” in and around the UV. All listings note where and when the Sangha meets. 

It was noted that students are struggling with mental health issues, and the Plum Village tradition may be helpful to them. Sami is going to look into the meditation offerings at Dartmouth, and contact Nancy Vogel.

A suggestion was made to dedicate a week once or twice a year to putting out more info than usual, and to offer several educational sessions. Our expectation is that people will feel less intimidated attending an educational session before coming to a regular sangha sit.  These are questions, discussions and decisions that the Care Council can explore. 

The meeting ended at 11am with 11 people attending. We bowed to each other, our ancestors and Mother Earth. 

MPC Treasurer’s Report for 2022

Heart of the Valley Mindfulness Practice Center 2022 Financial Overview

CURRENT YEAR EXPENDITURES AND REVENUES: An overview of the spending and revenue for for the Heart of the Valley Mindfulness Practice Center (MPC) for 2022 is provided in chart form below and in pie charts on the next page. As you can see, the MPC spent roughly $100 less than it took in, an improvement over last year when we spent roughly $2,700 more than we received in donations. Two factors contributed to this improvement in our cash flow for the past year: donations TO the sangha increased from $5,204 to $6,583 and donations FROM our sangha dropped from $3,500 to $2,133. This past year our donations included $925 to seed the sangha discretionary fund, $538 for trees to be planted at Blue Cliff Monastery, $550 for Loving Work, and $120 for Morning Sun. We also realized savings in our rental rates since we pay only St. Barnabas $250/month for rent the use of their facility, their internet if we need it, and space for storage, the same amount we previously paid St. Francis. This resulted in a net savings of $480 for 2021. Our operating expenses include monthly zoom fees, annual post office and web page fees, and a fee to renew our non-profit status. 

CHANGE IN BANK ACCOUNT – DECEMBER 31, 2021 VS. DECEMBER 31, 2022: At the conclusion of 2021 the MPC had a balance of $9,239. At the conclusion of 2022 the MPC checking account balance was $9,320 and the balance of the MPC Sangha Discretionary Fund is $415. The MPC also has a CD valued at $4,670 that has not been drawn against for over a decade giving the organization a net balance of $14,405. Here is the summary for the expenditures and revenues for 2022: 

Rent – St. Barnabas$3,000.00
Donations by MPC$2,133.00
Operating Expenses$743.35
Dana for Kirtan$50.00
Scholarships, Books$67.55
Check, Bank Contributions $ 5,355.00 
Cash Donations from Sits $ 1,228.00 
Sangha Fund Seed Donation $   640.00 

NOTE: Contributions are lump sum donations made by check or monthly bank deductions that are placed in our bank account. The Cash Donations are those funds collected at the sits in donation baskets in the form of cash or checks made out to MPC. Counting the collection of seed money for the Sangha Discretionary Fund These donations increased by $1,324 in 2022, in large measure because of the increase in the number of in-person meetings where much of the cash donations were received. 

RECOMMENDATION: Assuming the increase in donations in 2022 is sustained and not expecting any increase in expenditures in 2023, MPC will consider higher donation levels in September, 2023. 

MPC President’s Annual Report for 2022

HEART OF THE VALLEY MINDFULNESS PRACTICE CENTER, PRESIDENT’S REPORT, 2022 Excerpt from Thay’s book Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet “Communities of Resistance A New Way of Being Together “ “You have your bodhicitta: the mind of love, the will to transform, the desire to serve. You have woken up and you realize you want to live differently. Bodhicitta is like rocket fuel: it’s so powerful it could send a rocket to the moon. But, in order to help the energy of bodhicitta be strong and sustainable, we all need a sangha, a place of refuge. We need a community to support us in our practice. … As soon as we wake up and we give rise to the aspiration to live differently, our healing and transformation begins right away, but, if we want to continue to heal, we need an environment that is conducive to healing. … As soon as we have found our path and a community, we have peace already. Simply to be on the path, we can have peace, and steadily that peace will develop and grow. … Entrusting ourselves to our community, allowing our friends to carry us, we feel at peace. The main task of a community of mindful living is not to organize events—whether they are events for mindfulness practice, or social justice, or engaged action. The main purpose of a sangha is to cultivate …[siblinghood], and harmony. And, with a sangha like that to take refuge in, everything is possible. We are nourished and we don’t lose our hope. That is why mindful communication, deep listening, and loving speech are so important: we need to find ways to keep communication open, share views, and come easily to collective insight and consensus. That is real sangha-building, and it takes time and energy. We need a lot of patience. We need time to sit together, eat together, talk together, and work together, and to cultivate a collective energy of mindfulness, peace, happiness, and compassion.” The year 2022 was momentous, indeed. On January 22, our beloved teacher Thich Nhat Hanh passed. People all over the world watched the days-long funeral rites carried out by the monastics of Thay’s root temple in Hue, Vietnam. Individually and collectively, we, too, watched, and both mourned Thay’s passing and celebrated his life and teachings. Our entire sangha, both sits, have been reading Thay’s book The Art of Living, taken from the last 21 Day Retreat that our beloved teacher offered, in 2014, the summer before his stroke. The retreat was entitled, “What Happens When We Die, What Happens When We Are Alive.” It was fortuitous that we chose this book. From many readings, we know that Thay lives on in each of us: we experience his presence in our sangha meetings, and his teachings illuminate our gatherings. We know that we are continuations of Thay, our ancestors and truly, of each other. Our sangha is fortunate to offer two sittings a week, Tuesday mornings, now in person, and Wednesday evenings, on zoom. We maintained the zoom sangha so that those who live beyond the Upper Valley of Vermont and New Hampshire could continue “to help the energy of bodhicitta be strong and sustainable” within our community. The sangha sustains us and we sustain the sangha. Both groups are thriving, and cultivating sibling hood and harmony. We began the year meeting entirely on zoom, always watching the covid numbers in our region for a time in which we all felt comfortable meeting in person. We changed from all zoom to in-person Tuesday mornings mid June, and have remained in person, on Tuesday mornings, ever since. To assist folks in our community who are experiencing difficult times, the Board decided to create a special Sangha Discretionary Fund, separate from our current accounts. The Fund is made up of contributions specifically for the purpose of helping those in need. A “no questions asked” system was established. Our community also has funds to help with the purchase of our current study book and with attendance at retreats or courses, both in person and on line. In April, several sangha members attended the Order of Interbeing retreat, at Blue Cliff Monastery. This retreat is held annually, and this was the first well-attended one since 2019. Happily, a past and sometime attendee at our sangha, Ginger Wallis, as well as friends from other sanghas, ordained into the Order. That is a cause for great celebration! Our Sangha also experienced great sadnesses this year. Notably, Bineke and Bram’s granddaughter Mieke Oort lost her life. The sangha donated a tree at Blue Cliff Monastery in her memory. Sangha members hope to visit the Monastery for a memorial service, during 2023. Many also donated toward a tree or two to be planted at Blue Cliff in the name of our sangha. The trees are largely planted next to the Buddha Grove, just outside of the meditation hall. The sangha continued the wonderful Second Body Practice, throughout the year, with both the Tuesday morning and Wednesday evening members participating. From June through early October, guest facilitators lead the Wednesday evening sessions, once a month. The “guests” included members of our own sangha – Wayne and Ginger – as well as other friends of our community, including Coni Richards from Putney, Theodate Lawlor from Maine, and Fern Dorrestyn and Michael Ciborski from MorningSun Community. The timing for Fern and Michael’s leading the Wednesday session was fortuitous: practitioners unfamiliar with them had a wonderful introduction to their teachings. In November, Fern and Michael offered an introductory course on the Five Mindfulness Trainings. The Wednesday evening group was happy to offer that evening’s time slot for the course. Many in our Wednesday group attended, with Suzanne Hinman and Kathryn Kennedy “taking” the Trainings in an on-line Transmission Ceremony, and two members, Jeff Nielsen and Christine Wallace, renewing their transmissions. People joined the course from across the US and from outside the country, as well. Jeff also spent time in Vietnam and continues putting his wonderful energy into the Loving Work Foundation. Sangha members came together for several events outside our usual meeting times. In August, Jeff hosted a sangha picnic at his home in Norwich. Many attended, bringing delicious food and a variety of musical instruments. Don Glasgo, with his trombone, lead us in a New Orleans parade with song. The wonderful musicians in our sangha added their own unique gifts and styles to the day, opening our hearts to Mother Earth. In December, two Solstice Ceremonies were held – in person and on line. (Illness prevented us from holding a hybrid gathering.) Both included Tea Ceremonies: meditative tea serving and drinking, and personal offerings from the heart, often musical or poetic. Each ended in a candle lighting ceremony, bringing light into the darkest day of the year. With this report goes deep gratitude to all the practitioners who have joined us in person and/or on line. We have come together at different times and in different configurations, but we are one Sangha, one community, practicing mindfulness, understanding and love. The greater the numbers we are, and the more we practice together, the stronger our mindfulness becomes, and the deeper the energy of love and peace that we can bring to the world. Thanks to everyone for your presence and for your continued support of the Heart of the Valley Mindfulness Practice Center. 

Sangha Sister Lisa Burke’s Travels to Peru

Hello Dear Sangha Friends, 

I am writing to update you on my stay in Lima and to share some of that richness with you.

I have been in Lima, Peru for 14 weeks now.  I return to Vermont in a month.  Our household is strictly vegan.  I have been given an opportunity to learn how to eat a plant-only diet that provides all the nutrients necessary and have availed myself to the compelling correlations between eating plant-based and those of climate change, the suffering of animals and the global demand for meat, fish and dairy.  The Hamje’s who have lived here for 35 years, are part of an organization called Climate Healers who champion this lifestyle, knowing it is the way forward to restore planetary health.  I have learned that the negative impact of animal agriculture, turning forests into grazing areas, and wanton trolling of the oceans, easily surpass fossil fuels in terms of effects of climate change! These are the biggest threat to the planet right now, not fossil fuel extraction and use, as is widely touted. 

The animal agriculture industry has to all but cease in order for the planet to recover and for climate warming to reverse.  Unfortunately, the industry is protected by laws that make it illegal to expose the deplorable conditions inherent in so many facets of the business.  It is covert. The truth of this backdrop of suffering, disease and destruction is the force that will destroy our very existence.  We are in the midst of a mass extinction of terrible proportions.  I am not an early adopter of these ideas, by any means, so keep asking myself, “Where have I been?”  

Lima is a sprawling city of 10 Million.  It is an easy going culture with many aspects of the city infrastructure appearing conscious and sane to me.  People walk more slowly, touch more readily and are friendly and excited to meet people from “Estados Unidos” (United States).  Teenagers are well represented and integrated as opposed to young people who often are treated like “the other” in the U.S.  Here, teenagers appear purposeful as they pass by with the same conduct as everyone else.  I surmise that since most families are intact and upward mobility is less of a value here, there is a basis for a calm, secure demeanor in people of all ages.  Suicide, overdosing and gun violence are all but non-existent here.  I often think of how many of our young people in the U.S. are hurting themselves and hurting others.  BTW:  The unrest here that has been world news, has had almost no impact on life in the city.  The demonstrations were tolerated by the government and eventually quelled. I believe there is still some effort on the part of the demonstrators to keep the tourist industries disrupted in well-known areas like Cusco, where Machu Pichu is located.  

I’ve been to the outskirts of the city on many excursions with a group of young vegans.  They have organized their efforts, among several other projects, around educating women to cook vegan in their pre-existing Community Kitchens.  The concept of Community Kitchens is well established here as a traditional means of sharing the wealth, if you will.  They are partially government subsidized.  Woman actually display a license in these extremely basic kitchens.  The hardscrabble communities in the surrounding hills are a result of a mass migration out of the highlands where a communist gorilla group was terrorizing the people about 20 years ago.  The poverty is indescribable.  Yet, life has a normal feel.  It is a privilege to be included and graciously welcomed.  I am attaching a poem that I wrote about my experience in the Ollas Communes Veganes (Community Vegan Pots), and some photos.

Some of my excursions require me to be in a series of vans, buses and taxis for several hours.  Peruvians drive like maniacs!  However, the crazy, swift, and tight movements required to drive in city traffic is remarkably ordered.  Though no one uses air-conditioning in their vehicles and it is hot and congested, I have very rarely observed upset on the part of any driver.  I have not seen one accident since I have been here but have witnessed hundreds of vehicles come within inches of each other while vying for position in moving traffic.  There is aggression and skill but no road rage!  

One of the impressive social organizations here is the implementation of a gentle policing that takes place called Serenazgo.  The root word being serene.  This uniformed, unarmed force is visible throughout the city.  Their very purpose is to maintain serenity in the city.  They are primarily on foot.  In each district of the city the Serenazgos can be found sitting in small, white buildings that have expansive glass windows and are clearly marked with a phone number.  Otherwise they make themselves available and visible by walking around their area. These light-weight police are called if a barking dog is disturbing the peace, their presence is needed in a neighborhood park, or to deal with minor issues with vagrants and so on.  My host relayed a story of being visited by a pair of Serenazgo when their neighbor was unhappy about a tree that was dropping leaves over a shared wall.  A couple of Serenazgo showed up at their door to sit down with my hosts and make up a contract that was to be followed once agreed upon by both parties.  Their visit was reportedly pleasant and the execution of the contract skillfully done. 

I had the opportunity to see the Serenazgo in action one afternoon while sitting at a chocolate shop enjoying some cocoa with my hosts.  A beggar was approaching the tables at the shops.  When he approached our table, three Serenazgo calmly ambled over, with their arms folded behind their backs.  One was a woman.  Moving very slowly, they slipped between the man and our table, calmly asking him to move along with their backs to us and their front to the beggar.  He continued to verbally object, but they were unimpressed.  As a unit they helped him change direction toward the street.  They followed him as he repeated his attempt to beg at another outside establishment.  They calmly repeated their approach encouraging him move along.  The man then entered into a shop, where the Serenazgo did the same thing.  Eventually, with zero anger nor upset, the slightly unruly man was ushered toward the curb where he reluctantly crossed the street, presumably to start all over again in the domain of another district of Serenazgo.

It was brilliant!  I could only wish that we in the United States possess the cultural trust in authorities to do no harm, enough so that such a system were possible!

In contrast to my outings to the Community Kitchens, I am living in a gorgeous, 10 bedroom casa in the city of Magdalena which is a district of Lima.  Long story there, but the house was purchased for 35K USD about 35 years ago!  My housemates are the couple who own the house (Wisdomhaus) and right now a young woman who helps with cooking from NJ.  Several people from the U.S. have come and gone since I’ve been here-all with similar objectives as my own.  Which is to understand more deeply this model of community living and to embody the ethic of a vegan lifestyle.   A couple from the Netherlands will be here soon and a man from the Philippines is coming to have dental work done, as there is a fully equipped dental office in the house!  

On a final note, the work of Donella Meadows, whom some of you may have known, is folded into the Climate Healers literature.  My return seems synchronistic, knowing that such a great mind and contributor to the urgent message about the warming of the planet was the neighbor of Brahm and Bineke in Hartland!  I ask myself, “Where have I been?” as I delve into the books and documentaries and discussions on the subject.  And where have I been that I failed to integrate Thay’s teachings on the need to be vegan as a response to climate change?  Where was I when he so clearly stated this in his letter to his community in the year 2007?

Livestock grazing now consumes somewhere in the range of 70% of crop lands, while 80% of the total sales of pharmaceuticals are to abate disease in animal agriculture.  The over use of antibiotics is jeopardizing the life saving capacity of this type of medicine.  I remember this warning when my children were young.  That was 40 years ago!  I had no idea that animal agriculture and fisheries are dependent on this proportion of antibiotics to mitigate the inherently unhealthy practices in the industry.   

I am eager to engage with you all around the question of how we should live in the face of the dire consequences of our current, world-killing paradigm. My entry point into veganism was my concern for the natural environment.  For some, veganism is found for health related reasons.  Most of the young vegans I have met in Peru are vegan out of their love and empathy for animals.  By watching some excellent documentaries and being privy to the discussions and motivations of the young vegans here, I have had bit of an epiphany.  It is the reality of a disturbing backdrop to every day life that has put my convictions into a new perspective.  I do not want to live in a world that tolerates the secret mass killings of animals every hour of every day.  It is no different than having a concentration camp behind a tall hedge in the neighborhood!  Somehow, in me, the heart space for the enormous collective suffering inflicted through animal agriculture on land and at sea, has been opened.  It is a relief to declare this.  It is a more honest way of being and gives voice to a fundamental sense of right and wrong that energizes me and gives me hope.  Going vegan is a joyful movement of joyful people!

I believe that human’s ability to disconnect from reality is a by-product of the way we must kill to eat.  As a philosopher friend of mine put it, “Civilization began when humans started practicing “Totalitarian Agriculture”, which was the practice of killing anything that competes with one’s crops…insect, plant, animal, or even human.  It seems to me that we have been living in a totalitarian culture, competing with and killing anything and anyone that gets in the way of our national, and largely economic interests.”  J Lorenzen.  It is a complex subject.  But, I have decided that I don’t want to live in a world that secretly carries out a holocaust on non-human animals when it is not necessary for our survival.  One of the questions that has been asked here is, “Would you deliberately hurt an innocent animal?”  I don’t know anyone who would answer yes to this question.  Yet we participate in just that when we eat animals raised for slaughter or use nets the size of football fields to dredge the oceans killing whole ecosystems.  The oceans are in the process of dying themselves.  And we need them to breathe.   

How did we convince ourselves that our emotions and capacity for suffering is somehow more real or impactful to ourselves than for other animals?  Are we, in fact, eating the equivalent of our beloved pets when we eat animals?  If so, how can we reconcile this type of hypocrisy within ourselves?  Wild animals, farm animals and creatures from the sea feel pain, joy, equanimity and sadness.  If we fail to have sensitivity to this, what is it that will finally wake us up? We are the holders of the power.  We can make real choices that lead to justice, repair and to joy in the world.

I know that the greater Upper Valley community is home to thousands of people who consider themselves as responsible and informed citizens.  I look forward to figuring out ways to speak about the possibility that we can abandon the destructive killing machine of animal agriculture and over fishing and live in the confidence that is to be found in having made that decision.  I believe that we are capable of creating something greater in its positivity than the world has ever known before.  The fog of consumerism that we have all participated in is being lifted person by person.  We must reject what is being sold to us when cruelty, ignorance and greed are the driving force behind any given product. I am looking for the strength to look the truth of what is happening to our environment, square in the face.  We need to support each other as we engage in creating a society that is capable of making critical correlations, then abiding them by changing our habits.  My intention is for my daily life to reflect the discovery of these correlations as best as I can.

I have joined a group called 1 Million Vegan Grandmothers.  Its mission is to harness the loving energy of grandmothers, grandfathers and others to shepherd our animal, plant and mineral family to safety using our earned wisdom, and in preparation for our departures from this physical world.  

Should you be interested, I have included links related to these subjects below.  There are links to documentaries on the Climate Healers site.  Climate Healers, A Million Vegan Grandmothers, and T. Colin Campbell’s (author of The China Study) site is are below.

I know that one of my challenges is to stay heartened and inspired as I find my voice in a new developing epoch.  I don’t want to preach, yet feel so young in my passion and desire for change that I may be doing just that!  May I find my way with that challenge!  Understanding we can no longer afford to believe that we are separate from nature, many things come into focus.  As scary as theses times are, I am clear that the changes that are coming bring potential for a world of new communities with values more aligned with my own.  May we learn to share, to consume less, and to listen more so that we can attune ourselves to what the planet herself is telling us she needs.  I hold that vision for myself and for future generations as I know you all do as well. 

 I very much look forward to my return and to being with you again.



Before I Celebrate

If I were to back up 

from the sight of the young woman

bending over a heap of torn bags 

from where she picked through garbage 

I might have thought I’d found 

the deepest poverty of my lifetime.  

But I can no longer find it.  

Her willingness to focus

on the details before her 

is not unlike my own as I travel 

with anticipation to the hardscrabble 

hillsides outside of Lima.  

It does not come with the hungry stray cat 

that meows at my knees as I eat. 

It does not come with the blind boy 

whose sister feeds him by the open door 

nor when neighbors bring their dented pots 

and plastic containers to be filled 

with a meal without shame.

It does not come as the children skillfully 

break the fall of the football with their forearms. 

It does not come when the older child calmly

escorts the toddler away from where she stands 

in the middle of the goal.  It does not come 

with the sight of the one who watches

among the tattered trash.

In the open air are those who know 

these children well.  A chicken pecks, 

slime clings to a puddle, the haze 

never lifts.  Millions live in the scant shadows 

of their sheen-bereft shacks.  A sea 

of sepia scales dropped from the backs 

of dragon shaped mountains, rooftops 

overlap one atop the other 

as far as the faint horizon 

where further mountains 

contain the same.

The dusty corrugated roofs,

the rocky roads, the dull stone stairs 

do not strive.  The people 

climb up the roads, move slowly 

down the steep steps from their homes, 

where collarless dogs are free 

from interventions of social order,

there seems to be no eagerness, 

no new ideas, no engineering, 

no trajectory.  

I cannot compete 

with the untroubled acknowledgement 

from the women cooking

in their Community Kitchens, 

when I do not speak their language. 

The warmth of their smiles, 

the fully blossomed humor, 

curiosity unimpeded by what has arrived 

on their doorsteps, a nimble presence 

is offered as I accept in helping

to chop onions, slice potatoes 

or to stir a giant pot.  

Though I stand alone 

as I might stand anywhere

I am here, as ordinary conversations

place me on this particular piece 

of dusty ground, a chance meeting 

commences. My new companion, 

the insight there is nowhere else to go.

A Million Vegan Grandmothers

Climate Healers website.

Care Council Role and Responsibilities

Heart of the Valley MPC Care Council


  • Nurtures and protects the harmony of the Sangha
  • Facilitates the deepening practice and spiritual growth of Sangha members. 
  • Monitors and supports the attainment of the goals established at the full Sangha meeting
  • Explores solutions and approaches to issues raised by individuals and committees within the sangha. This protects the time and spirit of other groups. 
  • Provides a safe place and process for conflict resolution


  • The Care Council consists of no fewer than four individuals who volunteer at the all Sangha meeting, though all sangha members are welcome to attend meetings. If possible, at least one individual on the council will have previous service. No individual should serve more than four consecutive years. 
  • The Care Council meets quarterly or more often if deemed necessary by the Board.
  • Care Council meetings and agenda topics will be announced verbally and via email at least two weeks in advance.  
  • The Care Council Operates by consensus of the members in attendance at each meeting using the model described in Joyfully Together by Thich Nhat Hanh. All in attendance at the meeting will reach harmony of views by embodying loving speech and deep listening. 
  • The Care Council places the welfare of the Sangha above personal preference. 

Role and Responsibilities

  • Limited to making those decisions regarding the functioning of the Sangha that are delegated by the board
  • In response to issues raised by individuals or committees, develops options or policy suggestions for consideration by the Sangha
  • Serves as an umbrella for Sangha members who may want to propose special events, like a retreat, Day of Mindfulness, or Sangha outing. 
  • Keeps the Sangha informed of opportunities for deepening of the practice through attendance at events sponsored by other Sanghas and/or meditation groups. 

The over-arching goal of the Care Committee is to protect the harmony of the Sangha by addressing issues that drain positive energy and by identifying and helping with the implementation of actions that increase positive energy. It allows an informed decision and/or a set of thoughtful solutions to be reached by those who care to attend Care Committee meetings and protects the time and spirit of regularly scheduled Sangha activities.