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Water, Wind, Earth & Fire: The Christian Practice of Praying with the Elements Paperback – March 1, 2010
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Some readers may wonder if this is a crypto-Wiccan book, and indeed anyone interested in creative cross-fertilization between Neopaganism and Christian spirituality will find much to explore in this book. But let's be clear: the four elements (air, fire, water and earth) are universal energies, since they are grounded not only in the nature of the earth, but indeed in our very bodies (think of it: your skeleton and flesh are earth, your blood is water, your lungs and breath bring you air, and the very heat your body generates is the fire within you). Historically speaking, knowledge of the four elements and exploration of their spiritual meaning can be traced back to Greece, where Plato speaks of the elements, following the earlier Sicilian philosopher Empedocles. In other words, our earliest knowledge of the elements is not occult or magical, but rather philosophical and scientific, in scope.Read more ›
Often, we forget the richness of our own traditions, even the specific Christian tradition that most Americans share. Often, helpful guides can emerge to reconnect us with themes and creative ideas that can wake up our prayer life--and can connect us with parts of the world we often overlook. Right now, millions of Americans are waking up to their deep connection with the natural world. For a long time, American evangelical movements were so focused on the "next" world that this one was almost an afterthought.
Where does our faith connect with "Creation care"? That's a two-word phrase now popular among religious environmental activists. For thousands of years, this wasn't even a question. Religion and environment always intertwined. Remember that the roots of our spiritual traditions lie in ancient lands where life depended on the weather, the fertility of fields--and the overall balance of non-human life on Earth. In the past 500 years, in particular, the Western Christian world seems to have lost track of this connection.
That's why this book is so fresh and so important. Just like me, you can find hundreds of books on prayer. Why choose this slim paperback volume? Because, in 150 pages, Christine Valters Paintner helps to reconnect Christians with our own centuries-old traditions of praying with "the elements"--the connective tissue between our faith and true Creation care.
This charming and breezy book invites the pray-er to incorporate each of these elements into his or her spiritual life. These four elements aid the mystic in the journey to deeper experiences of God. They each reflect a dimension of God, and yet are the simple stuff of our earthly existence.
In addition to Paintner's insights and experiences, Ralph Waldo Emerson, St. Francis of Assisi, Chet Raymond, Hildegard of Bingen, and other mystics, poets and writers share their wisdom. Each brings their own voice to the wonders of God expressed through creation.
Water, wind, earth and fire present themselves to us in many different forms. Whether solid, liquid, gas or some combination influenced by temperature or light, each offer a poignant theological lesson. Each invites us to surrender to God's magnificent power and to know at the core of our being that we are uniquely created and loved by Him.
Hence, this book is primarily about learning to see. Within its pages we are offered new ways of looking at the world. Instead of seeing only the superficial and obvious, Paintner teaches us to look lovingly into the depths of a shimmering world which is constantly shifting and changing. The rhythms and cycles of nature are a recurring theme throughout this book. Indeed, a major component of the contemplative work in which Paintner engages incorporates a deep resonance and response to these ever-changing rhythms--the cycles of our days and nights, weeks and months, seasons, and even our very breaths. In this way, the author shares her understanding of a world filled with the rising and falling of a never-ending, eternal dance of love and loss, pain and pleasure, desire and absence--both poles pointing to the dynamic tensions which underlie our daily existence, including that between our inner spiritual journey and the outer landscapes we inhabit.
She teaches us to read the natural world as a sacred text which, if we learn to discern its subtle movements, may reveal itself to us as the source of Divine Mystery. While her interpretive lens is primarily Christian based, its roots lie deeper than any single tradition.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A great book for anyone seeking to go deeper in their spiritual life through an encounter with God in nature. Beautiful, poetic and artistic approach.Published 12 days ago by Jane Book Lover
I purchased a kindle version to read on upcoming flight...but I know this author ! She has been teaching, nourishing my path for years .!Published 7 months ago by pat thrasher
This is a great book to read slowly with highlighter and sticky notes near by. Don't plan to just sit and read as there are so many great questions to think about. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Tina Porter
So many of these devotional books are Christian, but as a eclectic pagan I enjoyed this book very much. If you like to work with the elements it is quite useful.Published 12 months ago by nk/NIN
If you are searching for new dynamics to strengthen your prayerful side, this book introduces the natural world and its elements into your life. Read morePublished on December 22, 2013 by Carol