About Nature & Grace Journal

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About Nature & Grace Journal… Hello! This blog began as a quarterly print journal made on my home computer in 1996. Nature and Grace Journal was 4 pages, then 8, in small print with sidebars for the season’s worth of thoughts on the ‘God and us’ situation. I’d make a hundred copies at Kinko’s and plant them in the back of the church I belonged to then. By the third issue I had 35 paying subscribers, Continue Reading →

Making peace with my imperfection

Perfectionism: Give it up and get creative!

Like most of us, I fret about what’s ‘good enough’ far too often, and it costs me confidence and creativity. I can get rigidly addicted to the idea of how my efforts should turn out. Then I fail to give something deep and rich and from my heart and mind. I still can be fearful of giving a talk (even when I was invited by a warm, eager audience!) lest I forget my speech, make Continue Reading →

Searching for God: Yearning to be Seen, Known and Loved

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We seek God for two reasons: to escape or transcend our limited selves, and to receive within ourselves that which we would reach out and touch. We want to know God/ the Sacred/Peace.  We also yearn for a God Who would know us. We want to be seen, known, and loved. The Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament, to Christians) claim this clearly in the Psalms:

“It was You who created my inmost self, and put me together in my mother’s womb…You know me through and through, from having watched my bones take shape when I was being formed in secret, knitted together in the limbo of the womb.”  (from Psalm 139)

A baby forms its initial self-image by looking into the smile of its mother’s face. A loved child sees a parents’  love mirrored back. When the child smiles back, she inspires her parents’ delight:  she learns she is delightful.

Imagine making God laugh in delight. 

As the baby grows, she begins to build a self, to co-create Selfhood. With this young selfhood, we approach spirituality and religion with a sense of being seen, known and loved. Because we feel loved by our parents, we feel loved by God. We feel safety in being seen by God and, as we become ourselves, we feel safe in being known. We have permission to be authentically ourselves.

In adulthood, we yearn for this authenticity as we seek to reveal ourselves in our lover’s gaze. We marry seeking to be known so deeply and wordlessly that simply sitting together fills us with peace.  That’s how we describe a soulmate.

Imagine how a mystic feels, basking in God’s embrace.

 

Mary Oliver: Contemporary Mystic, On Forgiving Yourself

Repenting “You do not have to be good. You do to have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.” These words open Mary Oliver’s profound declaration about self-forgiveness, choosing your life, moving on and forward despite regret, sorrow, guilt, having done harm or simply not having done enough to do good. What can this mean when my religious learning says I must repent? What can she mean? I don’t Continue Reading →

Three Miracles in One Day

It’s not easy to accept the possibility of miracles. Often we can barely trust God intervenes at all. Where does that leave the notion of providence? And of course, the big question: Why pray? No, it’s not good enough, to me, that prayer changes the one who prays, although I have experienced this many times. I ask God for more: more love, more help, more inner peace, sure. These seem easy. But recently I beseeched Continue Reading →

Christmas, Alone

By happenstance, I’m alone today and tomorrow, Christmas Eve and Day. Last time this happened was half my lifetime ago, when I was just 24 and enduring a rough patch. That holiday was spent in unwelcome solitude, in a Minnesota winter with its usual awful cold. But it was not, in the end, an awful time. By grace (God’s) and grit (mine) I managed to make it a rich time. Even though loneliness could have Continue Reading →