Sandra M. Levy-Achtemeier, Ph.D.

Flourishing Life Review: Julian's Window

Julian's Window, December 2012


In her 2006 book, Imagination and the Journey of Faith, the author investigated at length the need for imagination to help us approach the Transcendent. She brought before the reader works of scholarship as well as of culture which can give both reason and sustenance for such a journey. Flourishing Life is a shorter book about self-perception, happiness and psychology in their Christian aspects. But that is to make the book seem small and dry — and it is most definitely not that. Not only is it about the necessary means for making one’s life “flourish” (and calling to mind all the items of the nurturing imagination from the earlier book), it is also very much about “flourishing life” — that is, waving life in a joyful, triumphant way so as to call attention to it! Why bother? Because (citing Teilhard de Chardin’s The Divine Milieu — an important work for flourishing!) “Creation itself is being drawn toward a final destination, equipped with embodied minds or souls to respond to God’s impingement in our lives” (p. 12). We carefully need to tell ourselves the stories of our lives. So, in addition to her own story, the author tells us the stories of three of her friends which serve as links throughout the book. Having drawn our stories out of our lives, we then need to tell them “in conversation”. “Our flourishing is always flourishing-in-community” (p. 112). Levy-Achtemeier draws on very interesting data from The Emerging Church movement, to call attention to its frequently more embodied responses to God’s processes; but recognizes that any communities which “embrace orthodox and ancient beliefs and traditions without rigidly clinging to dogmatic claims to absolute knowledge can be welcoming places" (p. 116).

Sr. Cornelia, Order of Julian of Norwich