The spring equinox is on Friday 20 March 2020
by Brian Radcliffe
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To encourage us to develop a balanced lifestyle.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a leader and two readers.
- Have available the following image and the means to display it during the assembly:
- a woman balancing on a slackline, available at: https://tinyurl.com/u7gwe5e
- In the ‘Time for reflection’ part of the assembly, Jesus’ comment is adapted from Matthew 6.19-21 and St Paul’s comment is found in Philippians 4.11-13.
As the students enter the room, show the image of a woman balancing on a slackline.
Leader: One of the latest fads in leisure pursuits is slacklining. You may have seen people trying to balance on a rope tied between two trees in the park. Slacklines have also been installed alongside some climbing walls.
In fact, a slackline is a length of webbing a few centimetres wide, which is tightened by using a ratchet. It’s not a tightrope. The slackline has an element of bounce that the participants have to work with, just like a rider works with the bounce of a horse’s gait. Slacklining is all about balance. It’s easier than walking across a tightrope because the webbing is flat, but it still takes a lot of practice.
Slacklines have been erected on many sites. Some are only a few centimetres from the ground, but extreme lines can be hundreds of metres high, stretching from cliff face to cliff face.
Pause to allow time for thought.
Today is the day when the earth is in balance. Friday 20 March is the day of the spring equinox, or vernal equinox. The word ‘equinox’ comes from Latin and means ‘equal night’. That’s because today, all over the world, daytime and night-time are of almost the same duration. Also, the sun has risen exactly in the east and will set exactly in the west. On Tuesday 22 September, the autumn equinox, there will be a similar occurrence.
For the northern hemisphere, the spring equinox is a good sign. It’s counted as the first day of spring, so lighter, warmer days are on the way. For the southern hemisphere, it’s the opposite. For people living there, it indicates that autumn is beginning and winter is on its way.
Time for reflection
Leader: Balance, that’s today’s theme. We’re often encouraged to develop a balanced life, but it’s not easy. Just as our bodies lurch one way and another on the slackline, so we can find ourselves lurching from crisis to crisis, never quite in control, sometimes landing with a bump. We discover that we’ve forgotten some important task, missed a deadline, offended a friend, failed to achieve an ambition. So, how might we become controlled, progress smoothly and be totally balanced in our life and in our relationships? Here are a few tips.
Reader 1: Why not learn to say no to a good thing so that you can do the best thing? There are often many options presented to us of what to do with friends, family, sleep, exercise, work and entertainment, and many of them can appear so attractive. Some are considerably more attractive than others. What might be the very best things, though? What will benefit us the most or take pressure off if we complete them? Those will probably be the best things to do.
Reader 2: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Pride can be a dreadful thing if it results in a final panic, and so can shyness or not wishing to pester others. Often, when we do seek help, most people are very glad to give assistance.
Reader 1: Try listening as much as speaking. It may help to clarify exactly what needs doing. It will certainly earn us deeper friendships, which in turn often help us to remain in balance.
Reader 2: Reduce the clutter. We’re constantly being encouraged to get more stuff. Jesus made the sensible comment that it’s pointless to gather stuff all the time because it wears out or we feel pressured to update it. It can also get pinched. Instead, Jesus advised that we should build up a store of what really matters and lasts. He called it ‘treasures in heaven’. What do you think is most valuable? Maybe we could all discuss it later.
Leader: St Paul explained what helped him to keep his life in balance, too. It involved learning to be content in whatever situation he found himself in. He might be hungry or well-fed, rich or poor, but he accepted it and was content.
Maybe we can learn something from that. Maybe a balanced lifestyle is about looking first for the positives in our present situation and working from that, rather than being envious of what we don’t have. That would take a lot of pressure off!
Of course, nothing stays in balance forever. It’s usually a still point that has been reached from a start and will be left behind as we progress towards our destination, just like the slackliner. However, today, I hope that we can all get a little more in balance in our lives.
Thank you for the freedom that we have to make the choices that will keep us in balance.
Remind us of this when we feel like we’re out of control, hurtling towards a crisis.
May we be able to stop, regain our balance and move on.