In the Hour: A Meditation in Four Elements

by Laura E. Creel

You were the flame that swallowed me whole, back when I stood, joy rising in my throat for a grace I didn’t understand. I was young then, and You were indisputable, before the ache of a brain awash in neurotransmitters gone wrong.

Burning with a holy fire, it was easy to find You. You rested upon me; You dwelt within me. It was easy, then, to hold onto a faith without nuance.

God of the fire that consumed my youth, be with me now and in the hour of my death.


I waited with my knees on this ground. I heard You were holy, so when I was ripped by the blackness of panic and fear, I left my shoes and bent my knees and dropped my head.

I waited with my hands on this earth to know I was alive, that I was held by something solid and whole. I waited to feel the weight of the world pushing back on me.

I waited for You to cut time and space with healing, for signs and wonders that never came. My lips are dry kissing this dust, asking You to show Yourself.

God of the earth that will swallow me whole, be with me now and in the hour of my death.


I run, feet slapping the pavement, towards an end that I don’t yet know.

As I run, I gasp for air, and I whisper these prayers, willing the breath in my lungs to rekindle the tongues of fire that once rested on my head. The whispers from my mouth speak the ache of being human and knowing my death. And so, with the finite, unknown number of breaths that remain in me, I pray for the dead, and for those who will die.

I breathe out these prayers to the God with whom my mind grapples but for which my heart reaches, the God for whom I am desperate.

God of the air that will one day cease to fill my lungs, be with me now and in the hour of my death.


You are the rain that I look for now, blurry eyes through a window. Clouds of water roll in and tree branches begin to sway. I wait for the gray to envelope me—hand pressing against the glass to feel the hit of the drops on the pane—to feel the force that is bigger than me, the thing that I cannot control. You are this rain, because I want You and I wait for You, and I cannot make You what I want You to be.

I will not know You as You fully are, and You rarely let Yourself be found by me, but I find You here in the rain. I move and change in space and time, and You change for me too in ways I don’t understand. But You remain beautiful, overwhelming, like the rain.

O great God of the water—out of my reach and out of my control—be with us now and in the hour of our death.