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Water, earth, fire and air-part 1

By Rod Mitchell in Articles

we need to explore the elements as part of a whole but equally appreciate each in its own right as we aim for "fullness of life"

Why do we need to explore the elements of water, earth, Fire, and air? Brian Swimme in his wonderful little book “The universe is a green dragon – A Cosmic Creation Story” states, ‘If we are to be truly human we need to become the gifts that these elements have to offer us as human beings’. So in this article I will give a brief overview of his argument and may well follow up in future articles a little more detail and practical steps we need to take to embrace his suggestion. Each of these elements has a unique power and gift which helps humans
appreciate who and what they are required to be as creatures in this unfolding drama.
“To become fully mature as human persons,” writes Swimme, “we must bring to life within ourselves the dynamics that fashioned the cosmos. We must become these dynamics and primordial powers in new human form. That is our task: to create the human form of the power of the cosmos. The same dynamics that created the galaxies created the stars and the oceans. The power that build the universe are ultimately mysterious, issuing forth from and operating out of mystery. They are the most awesome and numinous reality in the universe. Humans are these dynamics, brought into self-awareness, becoming now fully aware of our creative work. We already have these powers in the form of stars, mountains, atoms, and elephants, but we do not yet have them in human form. Having only just arrived on this planet, we are still learning what it means to become fully human.”
But we do know as Christians, this is important for us; we remember Jesus’ claim that he came to give us life in all its fullness.
Fullness is a difficult concept for us western science focused people. As Swimme reports, “We western educated people tend to define something in terms of the parts it can be broken down into. But that’s only half the story. Mineral water can be broken down into its parts, and we can learn something from that. But mineral water as an entity shows itself in ways that its parts cannot. Breaking water itself into its parts of hydrogen and oxygen gives us some knowledge of water, but water as an integral entity reveals things about itself that its parts do not. Learning by analysis has been emphasized over the last two centuries, but we also learn by examining things as wholes.” In their fullness.

Yes we need to explore the elements of water, air, fire, and earth as parts of a whole but equally appreciate each in its own right as a significant part of who we are as human beings. This would be my hope of what a new lectionary could offer our faith journey as we creatively move forward to face the challenges of our evolving universe.
Rod Mitchell