A service with prayers, scripture, and divine time of quiet in nature: On this day of equal light and dark, night and day, we quietly watch the sunset together.
Where we are
We are in the Texas Hill Country, Barton Creek & Colorado River watersheds, above the Trinity Aquifer, the ancestral land of the Tonkawa people.
Today, the Spring Equinox, is one of the two days of the year in which the light and dark, day and night, are equal. Since the winter solstice, the axis of the earth has tipped the northern hemisphere toward the sun, incrementally, causing the days to lengthen by a few minutes each day. Tomorrow night will be just a few minutes shorter than the day, the balance will tip us toward summer.
As an outdoor church, we are deepening into the way we mark the seasons and pay attention to nature, to God’s good creation. At this time of year, and again in the Fall, it is good to think about balance. The equinoxes can be for us a time to take stock of balance, of harmony, of the weight and heft of our lives, and the rhythms of our days. Are we getting enough time with others and enough solitude? Enough movement and enough stillness? Enough work and enough rest? Enough time outdoors to balance the hours inside? As we move from winter to summer, are we opening, blooming, planting new seeds in our lives?
Almost all ancient and indigenous cultures marked points in the sun’s cycle, as they did monthly with the moon. The sun’s longer cycles also correspond with the seasons, and the times of plantings, harvest, gathering, fishing and hunting. Christians, too, mark the seasons and give thanks. In the Christian church, the festival marked at near the Spring Equinox is the feast of the Annunciation, March 25. It is interesting that this time of balance between night and day is, like Michaelmas in Fall, another connection with angels - those mysterious beings between human and God, between earthly and divine. This time it is Gabriel, announcing to Mary that she will bear a holy child. It is a feast of fertility, in keeping with Spring - pregnancy, hope, expectation. The announcement of Gabriel is met by Mary’s strong and certain “yes.” “Here am I. Let it be with me according to your word.”
Also close to this equinox day is the feast day of 5th century evangelist and bishop, Patrick, who lived and worked in Ireland. He is celebrated on what is believed to be the day of his death, March 17, possibly in the year 493. Since this was before the split of the Eastern and Western church, Patrick is one of the saints celebrated in both.
Patrick's Lorica - The Deer`s Cry - modern (abbreviated) version
I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun, Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning, Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea, Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.
I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me, God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me, Afar and anear,
Alone or in a mulitude.
Christ shield me today
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of creation.
modern Irish song setting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGHWiAGpIP0
Scriptural invitation to quiet: Psalm 46:10:
“Be still and know that I am God.” [pause for a few breaths]
“Be still and know that I am.” [pause]
“Be still and know.” [pause]
“Be still.” [pause]
Luke 1:28-31, 38
1:28 And the angel came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you."
1:29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
1:30 The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
1:31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.
1:38 Then Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.
“You are invited to walk into nature and notice what you notice, pray what comes to you. Listen, touch, smell - use your senses. Be in nature in silence”
Here, the weather is getting warmer at this moment of the equinox. The wildflowers are beginning to bloom. The vegetable gardens are growing and producing again.
Part of our equinox/solstice celebrations and prayers here are to notice.
Traditional Irish Blessing p. 204 Earth Prayers ed. Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon
Receive this traditional Irish blessing of light, rain and earth - and go in silence and in peace.
May the blessing of Light be on you
Light without and light within,
May the blessed sunlight shine on you
And warm your heart till it glows like
A great peat fire, so that the stranger
May come and warm himself at it,
And also a friend.
And may the light shine out of the two eyes of you,
Like a candle set in two windows of a house,
Bidding the wanderer to come in out of the storm.
And may the blessing of the Rain be on you
The soft sweet rain. May it fall upon your spirit
So that all the little flowers may spring up,
And shed their sweetness on the air.
And may the blessing of the Great Rains be on
You, may they beat upon your spirit
And wash it fair and clean,
And leave there many a shining pool
Where the blue of heaven shines,
And sometimes a star.
And may the blessing of the Earth be on you
The great round earth; may you ever have
A kindly greeting for them you pass
As you're going along the roads.
May the earth be soft under you when you rest upon it,
Tired at the end of the day,
And may it rest easy over you when,
At the last, you lay out under it;
May it rest so lightly over you,
That your soul may be out from under it quickly,
And up, and off, and on its way to God.