From our discussion of ‘The Dwelling Place of God’, on February 19
Barry Turner contributes suggestions for prayer from Christine Valters Paintner’s
Water, Wind, Earth and Fire: The Christian Practice of Praying with the Elements
We highly recommend this book for meditations this Lent *
Organized around “The Canticle of the Creatures” by St. Francis of Assisi, Water, Wind, Earth, and Fire explores the ways in which praying with the natural elements can enliven Christian spiritual life. In this brilliant book, Benedictine Oblate Christine Valters Paintner synthesizes concrete ideas, simple prayers, and a wealth of thought-provoking quotations on the spiritual significance of the four elements.
For example, Praying With Fire:
Explore the impact of fire on your own prayer and spiritual life:
The Fire of Illumination: “You are the light of the world…let your light shine before others.” Mt. 5:14-16
What radiance awaits you today if you only take time to really look and see? How might you receive the inspiration of fire burning through all of creation?
The Fire of Purification: “See, I have refined you, but not like silver; I have tested you in the furnace of adversity.” Is. 48:10
What have been the desert experiences of your life? Where do you experience resistance to the purifying dimension of fire?
The invitation to Become Fire: A story from the desert fathers: Abba Lot came to Abba Joseph and said: “Father, according as I am able, I keep my little rule, and my little fast, my prayer, meditation and contemplative silence; and, according as I am able, I strive to cleanse my heart of thoughts: now what more should I do?” The elder rose up in reply and stretched out his hands to heaven, and his fingers became like ten lamps of fire. He said: “Why not become fire?”
What kindles your heart? What makes your soul alive? Pray for courage to live into what sets your heart on fire.
The living Flame of Love that burns within us: “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road; while he was opening the scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32
Reflect on the places in your life where your heart had been burning but you did not take notice.
Contemplate the Fire in the Sky of the sun, moon and stars: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars.” Luke 21:25
Can I imagine myself as a shining star or brilliant sun? What are the gifts I have to offer when I take on this form?
* from Christine Valters Paintner, Water, Wind, Earth and Fire: The Christian Practice of Praying with the Elements, Sorin Books, 2010.