The recent snowfall reminds us of the legend of St. Martin of Tours, who lived in the 4th century. As a young Roman soldier, St. Martin rode on his horse into a city during a snowstorm, and approached a beggar huddled in the cold against the city gates who had no coat. Out of empathy, the young Martin stopped, removed his warm military cloak from his shoulders, tore it half, and covered the man to warm him. The following night, an angel appeared to St. Martin in a dream wearing the torn cloak, showing him the importance of caring for all people, no matter their station in life.
Considered the patron saint of beggars and outcasts, St. Martin died in November, 397, and November 11th is now celebrated in many parts of the world as Martinmas or St. Martin’s Day.
November offers us opportunities for compassion, empathy, and generosity. The autumn plant life surrounding us has already produced its bounty and is now largely dormant as the nights lengthen and the temperatures cool. At Martinmas, we celebrate the autumn harvest as well as the spirit of kindness and generosity that St. Martin is remembered for. Offering kindness, compassion, and generosity requires us to kindle a warm light within our hearts even when the outer circumstances may be cold and dark. Lighting a lantern and shining it into the dark as we walk forward is symbolic of this inner gesture.
We invite our youngest children at Mountain Song to Martinmas walks in early November to enact this gesture. Teachers in grades K-2 will be communicating with their families the details of the Martinmas Lantern walks, with the 7th grade kindly helping some of the classes.
May we all shine our lights into the darkness as we move forward in the cycle of the year.
–Teresa M. Woods, Principal