Aristotle’s Fourth

Aristotle assumed all substances to be compounds of four elements: earth, water, air and fire, and each of these to be a combination of two of four opposites, hot and cold, and wet and dry. (Actually, the words he used for wet and dry also have the connotation of softness and hardness). Retrieved from Oct 11 2013

We are earth, and the Trinity of wind and fire and water needs us.  I wonder at how easily we use the Three to describe our relational God while leaving out Aristotle’s fourth.  Jung and Hildegard – and so many of the mystics – proclaim God’s need for us – us whom God created to house, to incarnate, to bear the fruit of divine creative love. If there is a God-shaped hole in me, is there not a me-shaped part of God that needs to fill that hole?

Just as earth can be fruitful only when nourished by wind and fire and water,
     Just as we can be fruitful only by clinging to, and feeding on, our Source,
          So God can be fruitful in us, our lives, our world, and our history
                    only when we accept our human condition
and open our earthy selves in total surrender to God’s Spirit and loving will.  Amen.


© 1998

About Nancy Smith

Nancy Smith has 20 years’ experience in technical writing and management in software companies. She also has more than 20 years in Christian ministry as an educator, course designer, retreat leader, spiritual director, pastor, and coach. A United Methodist Deacon, Smith has her M.Div. from Boston University. She is a graduate of the Guild for Spiritual Guidance, and is certified in Spiritual Direction and Retreat Leadership from Boston College.
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2 Responses to Aristotle’s Fourth

  1. Frank Ober says:

    If there is a God-shaped hole in me, is there not a me-shaped part of God that needs to fill that hole? Interesting question. If God is within me, how does she manifest himself? Is that not our mission, to find out who we are and maybe what part of us is God? Frank

  2. You might be familiar with Australian theologian Sr Veronica Brady’s work – if not here is a link to it You may also like to view my blog

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