Teilhard de Chardin, the zest for life, and human flourishing

For the past two weeks my attention has been focused on writing a response to the Shared Conversations paper prepared for General Synod, to the legal status of lesbian and gay clergy who marry, and the temptations of taking part in a Channel 4 programme. All this activity intrudes on my need for reflective space, stillness and silence – and can impact on my energy and zest for life.

I’m reading From Teilhard to Omega at the moment, a book edited by Ilia Delio who spoke at the event in The Tapestry, St Agnes’ Church, North Reddish two weeks ago. Ursula King has contributed a chapter titled The Zest for Life, and this is what was centring, energising and inspiring me this morning.

Meanings associated with zest include “great enthusiasm and energy”, “quality of excitement and piquancy”, “eagerness, keenness and drive. Ursula King says:

“All these words express a certain dynamic energy and movement, an aliveness that spurs us on, nourishes and sustains human attitudes, inspiring further action, growth, and development, or it is simply understood as the flow of life. The zest for life is a drive that keeps us alive, engaged, committed to be involved with what is going on around us. It relates to an awakening to the fullness of life with all its joys and pains, its growth, diminishments, and sufferings.

“We have to ask what it means to be truly human, to be fully alive in the twenty-first century. Experiencing the fullness of life is sometimes described as ‘a sense of plenitude,’ a sense of being fully awake and aware, of savouring, enjoying, and appreciating a rich spectrum if life’s experiences within oneself, and in others, and in one’s environment. It is most important to nourish the zest of life throughout all stages of human development.

“Growing into the fullness of life must be understood in the largest possible context today, that of evolutionary becoming. This now requires a strong ecological awareness, and a new ecological Earth-consciousness and responsibility. The sense of a fullness of life is related to a primal trust in life, a zest for life, an openness to the future, and a search for the necessary energy resources to feed this zest.

“It refers to a dynamic drive rooted in a continuing source of energy which nurtures people’s attitudes, motivation, and action. This very positive concept of flourishing is immensely attractive as it implies that we can go from strength to strength, even when the going may get difficult at times.”

A zest for life and the creative, transforming energy of God is what inspires the work and vision of Changing Attitude. Thank goodness we have people around us who are unafraid to act with integrity, live into their divine energy, and model their lives in ways that reveal God’s transcendence and immanence and show the fearful how to transform hate and fear into love and courage.

From Teilhard to Omega – Co-creating an Unfinished Universe
Ed. Ilia Delio, 2014, ISBN 978-1-62698-069-3

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