Four Elements (Day 2)

June 04, 2021, By: Crossroads Church

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: Strength of heaven

Scripture Reading: Psalm 65

Optional Read-along: Water, Wind, Earth and Fire pp. 3b-5a (Introduction section: The Four Elements: Wind, Water, Fire Earth)

Spiritual Direction:

This poem of praise is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. As you read it through, take note of the four elements of the universe:

All praise be Yours, my God, through Brothers Wind and Air, And fair and stormy, all the weather’s moods, By which You cherish all that You have made. 

All praise be Yours, my God, through Sister Water, So useful, humble, precious, and pure. 

All praise be Yours, my God, through Brother Fire, Through whom You brighten up the night. How beautiful he is, how gay! Full of power and strength. 

All praise be Yours, my God, through Sister Earth, our mother, Who feeds us in her sovereignty and produces Various fruits and colored flowers and herbs. 

An element is the basic or essential constituent of something. Interest in the four elements of the universe goes back to Greek Philosophy where air, water, fire and earth were honored as symbols, expressing the nature of the universe.

Christine Valters Paintner explains: Christianity inherited the Greek worldview, including the four elements, and integrated these ideas into its own theological system. Both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures are filled with images of God rooted in the elements of the natural world. The Psalms especially use the language of earth, water, fire, and wind to describe God, to give insight into the multiplicity of God’s qualities, and to celebrate a God who can be found within the matrix of creation. In the Christian scriptures, we find the four elements represented in multiple ways. The Spirit is represented as both wind and fire. The living water of baptism is a central symbol for our self-understanding as members of the Christian community. The communion feast springs from the gifts of bread and wine, earth’s nourishment.

During this journey, we will learn Christian prayer practices that are inspired by the four elements. My hope is that you will carry some of these practices with you for years to come.

Today, venture outdoors to a place you enjoy— a patio, the river, a park, a tree– and allow yourself to savor the silence and healing solitude. Each of us has a personal idea of nature as sacred space. For me, a moving stream or grove of aspen trees transports me into timeless wonder. Allow yourself some sacred space in nature, today.

Now meditate on the poem of praise by St. Francis. Which element has captured your attention today? Is it warmth of the sun (fire), a breeze, water? Or is it something of the earth– rock, soil, flowers, trees? Return to the Starter Prayer. Can you sense the strength of heaven in your own life?

This evening, repeat the exercise. If it’s inconvenient or impossible to return to your sacred space, step out in the yard or sit by an open window. End your day with the Starter Prayer and look forward to rising tomorrow morning in the strength of heaven.

Be encouraged in your practice,

Katie Martinez

Endnotes

  • For daily texts with the Focus Word, Starter Prayer and link to these daily posts, text the word “journey” to 970-500-0970.
  • Are you receiving the weekly guide every Sunday via email? Register here.
  • Join the Orange Dots of Hope Facebook Group for spiritual conversations on the journey.

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].