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 →

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 →

Theology & Science Are Friends: Pope Francis on the Nature of God

Many of my clients, whether Catholic, other Christian or Jewish, are people of faith, and they want to be “good.” We want to follow the teachings of our various religious traditions, but we need these doctrines to make spiritual sense, especially if they require a big commitment and personal sacrifice. I, as a pastoral therapist and lay theologian, am vitally interested in how religious leaders form the moral doctrines they do. I’m thrilled whenever someone Continue Reading →

Suicide and the Funeral: Facing and Naming It

My 21-year-old younger sister Julie suicided nearly 30 years ago.  Looking back, it was the 1980s’ relative lack of understanding of suicide’s causes, and resulting stigma, that left our family utterly flummoxed as we prepared ourselves for her funeral. Each family member had conflicting needs and concerns due to our separate roles during in this crisis. Inadequate personal theologies about the disposition of her soul disrupted our ability to plan the funeral and the (dreaded) luncheon Continue Reading →