Life in the Balance
Imagine with me for a moment, things that you love about life, things that you love about being alive. What do you love about life, and about being alive in it? [Pause a few moments to allow reflection time.] And now, if some of you sitting here up front are comfortable sharing, tell us what you love, some things you love about life. [Take a bunch of responses and repeat for all to hear.]
There’s so much to love about life, so much in what you just said, and so much more that we didn’t get to hear… and just by your saying these things, you are feeding and strengthening the spirit of life. The spirit of life, which enlivens and infuses everything that is, everything that’s part of the interdependent web of all existence, of which we are a part! We love so much that’s in this web, this web enlivened by the spirit of life.
The spirit of life is, to me, like a force, like a power. There’s something strong about it. But there’s also something delicate and fragile, because everything in this great, wide web of existence is balanced there, just so, along with everything else. There’s a fragile balancing quality to that spirit too. And that’s what I want your help exploring today.
So, children who wish, I invite you to come up onto the high chancel and choose one of the sticks, branches, and interesting pieces of wood I’ve brought with me today. And what I’d like you to do, is to try to balance it on the end of your finger. [As they pick their pieces and begin to try, talk to the rest of the children and congregation.] Now, let’s watch how they do this. What do you observe? What do you notice about how they are doing this? [Take and repeat what you hear. Add your own observations, so that the result includes things like: concentration, patience, trying again, focus, calm, they are looking, feeling, paying attention, quiet, moving slowly, carefully, etc. And then turn your instructions back to the children with the sticks.] If you are having trouble with one finger, see if you can balance it on two [We want to keep it fun, and not end in frustration for someone!]. Now, when you have gotten it balanced, I want you to try one more thing: see how close to each other you can get, while keeping your piece balanced. [Give them a moment to cluster tighter and then continue.] It’s a little trickier to keep the balance with everyone else so close. Now you have to pay attention not only to your piece, but you have to be more aware of everyone else too. This is like that amazing interdependent web of all existence, infused with the spirit of life. Everything is closely intertwined and balanced in the web with everything else.
And we are fortunate to be able to choose to live and act in ways that strengthen that spirit, and that keep us mindful of that delicate balance. That precious balance of which we are a part.
Props required. You’ll need a variety of sticks, branches, and other pieces of wood, most with some length to them. Try to have a variety of sizes and shapes. You can add wooden dowels of various lengths, if you like, but branches are better since it takes a little time for a child to find the balancing point on an irregularly-shaped branch. Having a few chunkier pieces adds to the exercise, since these are much harder to balance, but may attract children who want a challenge!