Stop, Wait and Go
St Julianís Day is on 8 or 13 May
by Kirstine Davis
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To use the traffic light colours and St Julian’s body prayer to consider the importance of stopping, waiting and acting.
Preparation and materials
- You will need to be familiar with the movements used by St Julian of Norwich for her body prayer.
- Await: hands open in front of the body at waist level.
- Allow: hands lifted above the head with palms upwards.
- Accept: hands pulled down towards the heart with palms facing inwards and head bowed.
- Attend: hands open in front of the body at waist level (the same position as ‘Await’, but with the hands wider apart).
- Have available an image of traffic lights and the means to display it during the assembly. An example is available at: https://tinyurl.com/yxjm3s9g
- Ask the children, ‘If I say the words “Stop, wait and go”, what do you think I am talking about?’
Listen to a range of responses.
Hopefully, the children will mention traffic lights!
- Show the image of traffic lights.
Ask the children what each colour represents. (Red means ‘stop’, amber means ‘wait’ and green means ‘go’.)
- Ask the children if any of them have ever heard of someone called St Julian or Juliana of Norwich. Explain that St Julian was the first woman we know of to write a book. She was born in 1342 and died around 1416. From about the age of 30, St Julian lived in a church in Norwich, where she spent most of her time praying to God and helping others. Her special day is celebrated on 8 or 13 May.
- One of the things that St Julian is known for is her body prayer, which uses special hand and arm movements.
Show the children the movements used by St Julian for her body prayer.
- Await: hands open in front of the body at waist level
- Allow: hands lifted above the head with palms upwards
- Accept: hands pulled down towards the heart with palms facing inwards and head bowed
- Attend: hands open in front of the body at waist level (the same position as ‘Await’, but with the hands wider apart)
- Explain that this assembly is going to use traffic lights to help us to pray.
Ask the children if they remember what the red light means. Explain that it means ‘stop’.
Ask the children to hold their hands in front of them with their palms open.
Explain that we should pause in our busy lives and open our hands to let go of the things that worry us.
Ask the children to look at their hands.
Remind them that their hands can be used for good things such as helping others and showing kindness. Sometimes, we can be so busy doing things that we fail to see the beautiful world around us or the needs of others. Sometimes, we can be so worried about things that we become closed-up and unwilling to let people into our lives.
Remind the children that it is important to open ourselves up to others, to talk about our problems and to ask for help when we need to. It is also important to be available to listen to and help other people.
- Ask the children if they remember what the amber light means. Explain that it means ‘wait’.
Ask the children to hold their hands above their heads to make a Y shape, with their palms open.
Explain that this movement reminds us that sometimes, we need to wait. It might involve waiting patiently for something to happen or waiting for God to speak to us or to answer our prayers. It might simply involve taking time to be still and to reflect upon our lives.
Encourage the children to sit quietly for a while and listen to the sounds around them.
Encourage them to take the time later in the day to sit quietly outside and listen to the world and the birds. Alternatively, if the weather won’t allow it, encourage them to pause at home and listen to the sounds that are special to them, such as the hum of the heating, the sound of food being made in the kitchen, or even a brother or sister playing.
Remind the children how important it is to take the time to consider the things that really matter in our lives.
- Ask the children if they remember what the green light means. Explain that the green light means ‘go’.
Ask the children to hold their hands slightly out to the sides with their palms upwards and then to move them slowly forwards as if they were giving a present.
Explain that this movement reminds us to reflect on our lives, realizing how fortunate we are so that we will want to use what we have to help others.
Time for reflection
Suggest that the next time the children see a traffic light, they remember the importance of stopping . . . waiting . . . and going.
Perform the following actions as you say the following words.
- Red (hold your hands out and then let go): STOP worrying.
- Amber (hold up your arms to the sky): WAIT and remember how fortunate we are.
- Green (hold out an imaginary gift): GO and help others.
You may wish the children to repeat the words and actions.
Use the following questions to allow the children time to reflect.
- What do we need to do?
- Do we need to stop worrying?
- Do we need to spend time listening to others?
- Do we need to spend time listening to God?
- How can we go out and help others today?
Help us to STOP worrying.
Help us to WAIT and appreciate the many things that we have.
Help us to GO out and help others.