I invite you, my friends, to join me as dialogue partners in considering this question: What do we need to live a good life? And what I mean by “goodness” here isn’t being morally righteous, but thriving, flourishing, living out the fullness of one’s humanity
- I think of these as some of the ingredients:
- Enough to eat. A place to live.
- Opportunities to love and be loved in the fullest sense, which is so much more than the passion of romantic love or fondness for family and friends; “Justice is what love looks like in action,” as Cornel West once said, and there’s still more to the word than that.
- Meaningful work.
- A degree of autonomy, but also a place in community.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs might come to mind for any of you who have taken those classes, but I think I mean both more and less than the spectrum he laid out, and I’d prefer to converse in plain English, not the jargon of psychology.
What I’m putting on my list are ingredients, but I won’t try to write out a complete recipe. Perhaps in some cases a little more of this can make up for a little less than that; I don’t know.
I’ve been thinking about these things as I struggle to balance my own feelings of gratitude and loss in this time of pandemic. This is not the life I’d hoped to be living in retirement, either personally or vocationally. I can’t be with most of my family or my friends as I’d like. The pilgrimage to Assisi I’d so been looking forward to was canceled, with no other opportunities for travel anywhere in sight. I’d intended to continue to live my ordination even in retirement from parish ministry, but the possibilities for that have vanished. In a kind of symbolic moment, I had a supply gig I was eagerly looking forward to the first Sunday that all the churches shut down, and there that went.
Anyway, those losses really hurt. And yet there have been other opportunities: to go deeper in my photography, to work on writing poetry, to read, to ride my bike 5-6 miles every day, to cook, to spend a special kind of time with my family and especially my two little granddaughters.
This is definitely not the life I’d intended to be living right now. And yet.So what about you: are you thriving these days, and if not, what is it that you still need?