Martinmas





On November 11th we celebrated Martinmas at home with Naiya. This is the holiday for which the Lantern Walk is usually celebrated. I believe that the children in the grades at PWS had their walk on this day. (The smaller children celebrated just before Hallowe'en I think to acknowledge that more culturally recognized holiday and give them a wholesome way to enjoy it.) At home on the actual day of Martinmas we told stories of giving and sharing and one of the more well-known stories of Saint Martin himself. Naiya wanted to hear it over and over and also set up her dolls to act out the events. It was a sweet day even thought the weather was quite dreary and we couldn't get her to go outside to walk the neighborhood with her lantern. I thought you might enjoy reading the stories (and, of course, a few photos :) There are many famous works of art of this tale of Saint Martin that we had copies of around the house.

Long ago, there lived a good young man named Martin. Even as a boy, he knew that one day he would be expected to serve in the military. His father was an important military officer. And, though he desired a peaceful life outside of the military, he knew that it would be his duty to follow the life of his father. So, Martin joined the military, became an officer, and was eventually assigned to garrison duty in the town of Amiens.

One bitterly cold winter evening, the young Martin rode through the gates of Amiens on his fine proud horse. He was dressed in the regalia of his military unit: gleaming armor, a bright helmet, and a beautiful red cloak, lined with lambs wool. It was nearly freezing outside, but his thick cloak kept him warm. He was hardly aware of the cold. But then, as he approached the gates of the town, he saw a poor man, a beggar, dressed with clothes so ragged that he was practically bare. The man was shaking and blue with cold, but no one reached out to help him. People would pass through the gates, looking straight ahead, so their eyes would not meet with those of the poor, desperate man.

Martin, seeing this, was overcome with compassion. He rode straight to the poor man and took off his red cloak. And with one stroke of his sword he tore the lovely mantle in two. He wrapped half of the cloak around the freezing man and the other half around his own shoulders.

The people nearby watched in amazement. To see a fine military officer do such a thing was a ridiculous sight to many, but others were touched by the goodness that Martin showed.

That night, as Martin slept, he had a dream. A man appeared to him who looked so familiar, and he was wearing the half of the cloak Martin had given to the poor beggar. And then, Martin saw in the eyes of this man, and the light of the Divine which we carry within us.

From that day on, Martin’s life was changed forever. He knew that he could no longer fight and harm other men as part of the military, for his true desire was to live a life of kindness, forgiveness, compassion and goodness.

Golden light is turning grey,
Mists begin to rule the day.
Bare the trees, their branches lift;
Clouds of dead leaves earthward drift.

Through the field the farmer goes,
Seeds of ripened corn he sows’
Trusts the earth will hold it warm,
Shelter it from cold and harm.

For he knows that warmth and light
Live there, hidden from our sight;
And beneath a sheltering wing,
Deep below, new life will spring!






We also told her this tale of The Lantern:

There was once a girl called Naiya who had been outside in the garden all through the Summer running after the butterflies, jumping like a grasshopper, singing like a bird, and trying to catch the sunlight. One day when she was lying on her back in the meadow gazing up into the sun-filled sky, she said, “Dear Brother Sun, soon the Autumn winds will blow and wail, and Jack Frost will come and make us all freeze, and the nights will be long and cold.”

Brother Sun pushed the clouds aside and said, “Yes, it will be dark and cold. In the deep midwinter, warmth and light live deep within, hidden from sight. In the time of dark and cold, you will tend the Light Within.”

“But,” said Naiya, “How will I tend this Light when it’s dark everywhere around me?” “I will give you a spark of my last Autumn rays once you have made a little house for it, for this spark must be guarded well. It will light the way for you to tend the Light Within throughout the time of dark and cold.”

And then Brother Sun once hid again behind a cloud. Naiya went home and wondered how best she could make a little house for the spark of the sun. She took some tissue paper and some beautiful Autumn leaves and with glue pressed them onto the outside of a glass jar. Then she bound the top with a handle and formed it into a lantern. She took a candle and put it into the middle of her lantern. And, as it was growing dark, she went outside with it.

Naiya held the lantern up above her and said, “Brother Sun, I have made a little home for one of your golden sparks. Please may I have one? I will guard it well.”

Then Brother Sun looked out from behind a cloud and said, “You have made a beautiful home. I shall give you one of my golden sparks.”

And suddenly, Naiya saw how the sides of her lantern were lit up, and as she looked into the lantern, she saw a spark happily dancing on top of the candle. Oh, how happy the light was in her lovely lantern! It shone and shone so brightly.

“Thank you, Brother Sun,” Naiya called out, “Thank you.” And she took her lantern and carried it carefully home singing:

The sunlight fast is dwindling,
My little lamp needs kindling.
Its beam shines far in darkest night,
Dear Lantern, guard me with your light.

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