Starter Prayer: I arise today through the strength of heaven; Light of the sun, splendor of fire, speed of lightning, swiftness of the wind, depth of the sea, stability of the earth, firmness of the rock. —St. Patrick
Focus Phrase: Four Directions
Scripture Reading: Psalm 16:5-11
Optional Read-along: Water, Wind, Earth and Fire pp. 5b-7a (Introduction section: Connections to the Four Directions.)
Yesterday, I was viewing the high peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park from a balcony near Granby, Colorado. I had a map in my hand and was trying to identify various mountains by name. I began telling Dave and his brother, Al, what I was seeing. Al listened for a moment, then slipped away and returned with a compass. When I corrected the orientation of my map, I saw a truer picture of the mountain range. A map is not much use without a compass. North matters!
Throughout this spiritual journey we will draw on connections between the four directions of north, south, east and west and the four elements of water, wind, earth and fire.
Christine Valters Paintner writes: The Cherokee peoples link air with the direction of the east, fire with the south, water with the west, and earth with the north… We find this directional awareness rooted in Christianity as well… The Christian cross itself symbolized the four directions and the desire to spread the Word to the four corners of the earth. The direction of the east became associated with the resurrection. Many churches are built with their altars facing east…
I use the four directions in an oft-repeated spiritual exercise. I hope you will try it today. This is a pleasant and revealing way to listen to the movement of God in your life.
- Face eastward and imagine the sunrise. Ask: What is arising in my life? What new thing is happening in me or is capturing my attention these days?
- Face southward and become aware of the heat and warmth of southern exposure. Ask: What warms my heart and brings me JOY? What restores my soul? How could I bring more en-JOY-ment into my life this week?!
- Face westward and imagine the setting sun. Ask: What is gently ending in my life? What might I gracefully let go of to make space for new things rising? What needs to end?
- Face northward and become aware of the gravity and strength of the earth. Ask: What matters most to me? What are one or two values I hold that root me in my True Self and God’s Truth?
Take a piece of paper and draw a large circle. Label it like a compass with north, south, east and west. Illustrate each direction with words or pictures you received while listening to God during this exercise.
There is more to come on the wisdom and power of the four directions during the course of this journey.
Be encouraged in your practice,
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This daily devotion is part of the Summer Growth Journey: Learning to Pray with Nature with Crossroads Church. Many of us are also reading through Water, Wind, Earth & Fire: The Christian Practice of Praying with the Elements by Christine Valters Paintner. To purchase a copy, or for more information, email us at [email protected].