Article by Jinryu Janna Allgood
Remember the last time you received a hand written Thank You note in the mail? Maybe it was from a friend or relative, or possibly a four-year old, learning to write but thanking you nonetheless for a birthday gift. How did that expression of appreciation and gratitude feel?
That feeling strikes at the heart of the first strategy of Bright Way Zen’s new Strategic Plan. It’s a spirit of love and appreciation for each other that can be conveyed in so many ways: a quick announcement on Sunday morning, a short “Thank You” in the weekly newsletter, a social event centered on gratitude, or a Dharma talk investigating the meaning of danaparamita, the perfection of generosity.
Generosity isn’t strictly financial donations. Time freely given, work performed with love in the spirit of helping, and even presence – all of these can be received with gratitude and appreciation.
Building this kind of culture opens up our sangha to welcoming and appreciating attendees from all walks of life even if they don’t look like us or think like us. People who feel seen, welcomed and appreciated ultimately become members. They may bring their children some day. People who feel cared for in this way make pledges and donations. Notice how the first strategy links to everything else Bright Way Zen intends to do as outlined in the Strategic Plan.
Over the next few months I will be thinking of ways we can execute this strategy. But I can’t do this by myself. Success will involve the whole sangha. I am open to any ideas and suggestions you may have as well as your offers of help to follow through on them.