Sandra M. Levy-Achtemeier, Ph.D.

Flourishing Life Review: The Virginia Episcopalian

The Virginia Episcopalian, Winter 2012

As I read this book, I felt that I was watching a weaver who was blending many colors, textures and levels of experience into a unique view of how one can experience life now and in the future. Blending science, poetry, theology, storytelling and her own life story, author Sandra M. Levy-Achtemeier rejoices in the many ways that challenges, disappointments and unexpected turns of events can be the basis for the strengths shown in gratitude, joy and hope in our lives. Her background in scientific, psychological research, academia and as a priest in the Episcopal Church–she is priest associate and theologian-in-residence at St. John’s, Richmond–has given her a perspective that combines the human experience, the intersection of the cultural and community experience, and the spiritual experience.

Citing the stories of three people who have experienced life changing medical diagnoses or life changing events, we are inspired by their acceptance of the challenges they have faced and their choice to positively approach the adjustments in their own and their families’ lives. As we face the changes that aging, illness, job loss, divorce, death of loved ones or other situations may bring, this book is an inspiration. Levy-Achtemeier shows how our upbringing, role models, attitudes, experiences and our places in communities of faith blend to make us who we are and show us how we can flourish. The value of life in community is critical to how we integrate change into our lives. How we seek community, how it shapes us and where we find it may surprise us.

The theology of resurrection is the capstone chapter of the book and will no doubt be a good basis for many conversations on the topic. Levy-Achtemeier continues to weave the biblical, scientific, cultural, artistic and theological approaches to resurrection into this chapter and ends it with a series of images drawn from her own life and stories form others. To continue the opportunities for reflection, a list of resources for integrating various practices–prayer, meditation, and worship–furthers the experience and deepens them.

– Lindsay Ryland