I walked outside and braved the cold weather. I turned towards the sun to shed some light on my numb face. With a lighter in my right hand and tinder in my left, I knelt down to the earth and examined my materials. With a flick of my thumb, the lighter would ignite, spreading wild blue and orange flames across yesterday’s business section and I would have created fire. But as the flickers of indigo and red danced in the wind, a voice called to me and said….

Brooke, this is stupid. Get your ass in the house. If you need a picture of fire, go turn on the damn stove. You’ll burn down the house, you idiot.

And so I did. The literal ways the elements present themselves to me are:

My stove – In my life, fire allows me to eat. It heats the pot in which I cook my Kraft Mac and Cheese. It also scorches the marshmallow for my s’mores.

Plants – My mother loves plants. Our home is full of plants. We grow flowers, aloe vera, basil, and parsley. In the summer, we grow peppers.

Indoors – I work full time and take 15 credits. I leave the house before sunrise and get home after sunset. I don’t get to glance at the sky and appreciate the air. I was, however, able to spin around in my kitchen quickly and press the capture button on my camera. Hey, whatever works.

Plumbing – Like I said, I’m a busy bee. Sinks and showers are my saviors. Brushing my teeth, rinsing out my tooth whitening trays, grabbing a sip of water on my out and enjoying the 15 minutes of mindless bathing in the shower. That’s the life.


In addition to literal elements, these four factors of the world show themselves to me metaphorically as well, especially in recent days.

A lot of Americans are angry and scared and I am one of them. I have been reflecting on the refugee predicament that the world is in and have been able to conceptualize these four elements as they relate to it.

Fire – Fire is warmth. Although, Syrian temperatures can rise in the 100’s during the day, it can be bitterly cold at night.

Earth – I lost my uncle and g-d father last year. I miss him every day. If I want to see him, it’s a 25 minute drive and I can speak to him or pray in the cemetery where he’s buried. Immigrants from the countries on the Muslim Ban list can’t attend a funeral back home. They can, they just can’t come back. An Iraqi immigrant with a green card cannot visit the cemetery pictured below if they ever want to be allowed back in the United States.

Air – We are on the brink of WWIII. We’ve been saying it for years but it’s finally happening. Russia is bombing Isis. Using air space to their advantage. Looking up at the sky, at the air, I see clouds and rainbows. I pray for the children who look up at the sky and see smoke and bomber planes in the air.

Water –  From sea to shining sea…if they’ll let you in. A picture is worth 1,000 words but the sight of a family making their way to freedom on a small boat, freezing cold…leaves me speechless. metaphor-elements