What is flourishing?
In the introduction to St Teresa of Avila's book The Interior Castle, translator Mirabai Starr writes this:
Listen. Softly, the One you love is calling. Listen... Be brave and walk through the country of your own wild heart. Be gentle and know that you know nothing. Be mindful and remember that every moment can be a prayer. Melting butter, scrambling eggs, lifting fork to mouth, praising God... Losing your temper and your dignity with someone you love, praising God. Balancing ecstasy with clear thinking, self-control with abandon. Be still. Listen. Keep walking.
This is a picture of flourishing in the everyday.
Flourishing is participation and openness in a continually unfolding process, no matter where you are or what you are doing. It involves the overlap of deep rootedness and a profound becoming all at the same time. It is not dialectical; that is, it can accept, hold, and observe many seemingly contradictory realities while releasing internal and external narratives that tend to draw us to stasis.
Flourishing acknowledges and validates experiences of suffering, division, fear, prejudice, injustice, and fragmentation, and prompts those who benefit from the systems of this world to move toward those who are diminished and exploited by such powers. Flourishing does not permit any individual to escape from reality, but bestows dignity and invites refuge in the midst of reality. Soren Kierkegaard long ago described faith as being the practice of peace and rootedness which enables individuals and communities to stand firmly in rich, nourishing soil, even in the very eye of chaos. (This, in fact, is what the title of this website—Life in the Whirlwind—is all about!)
Flourishing is not the elevation of the individual, but the whole. Independent (one person) flourishing that does not cultivate interdependent (for-the-whole) flourishing may be what we call the American Dream, but it's not part of God's blueprint and will therefore ultimately not work. We are all made to embody and enjoy both individual and communal wholeness. Just as a mother is only as happy as her least happy child, so an individual can only flourish as much as the least-allowed-to-flourish member of that community (local or global). Flourishing always embodies the truth that God's image is to be recognized and honored in all.