To Thrive

To Thrive

Market Street Market in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia.    Photo:   Nathan F. Elmore.

Market Street Market in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia.

Photo: Nathan F. Elmore.

Every story of every person contains a bit of ruin.

I believe that also goes for nations, religious traditions, cultures, and political visions.

And then, from wherever it comes, the ruin fragments into shame.


Maybe the ruin came by way of injustice. Or an unexpected, inexplicable pain. Either way, the suffering.

Or perhaps the ruin came like a trickle of disappointment(s) or failure(s). And then, the sadness. The accumulation.

Suddenly a waterfall of anger splashes into a river of bitterness and runs down the ruined/shamed soul.

Of individuals, communities, countries.


For me, personally, bits of ruin and fragments of shame have come by way of vocational struggle. Job setbacks. Close. Almost. Not quite. The subsequent professional languishing over the last few years.

I've told select friends that my 40s (I'm now 44) have seemed like unexpectedly entering one helluva emotional/spiritual vortex. Disappointment. Sadness. Anger. Anxiety.

In this vortexadmittedly, thankfully, stubbornlyI've become more conscious and more aware of very specific aspects of my life, my self, that sit in ruins. Fragmented. Dis-integrated. 

I've seen shame disconnect me from familial relationships and significant friendships. Not to mention, my familial relationshipmy friendshipwith the One who is my God.


All of this (and more) is why I found myself very drawn to and compelled by this description of thriving.

Shouldn't thriving be the fullest aspiration of people and nations, of religions and cultures, and, yes, God help us, of political visions?

To thrive is the question.

Thriving cannot be accomplished alone. From cradle to grave, we rely upon countless others—people and institutions—in order to flourish. Thriving is...impossible outside relationships of reciprocity and interdependence.


This definition was taken from the website of Thriving Cities, an initiative of the University of Virginia and the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture.

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