I love this time of year. Martinmas is nearly upon us, and it brings an entire season of warmth, light, and protection that extends all the way through Candlemas and the very first inklings of spring.
St. Martin was (and is) an exceedingly popular Saint – the patron Saint of vine-growers, winemakers, beggars, tavern keepers. It was traditionally a time of great harvesting – the wine was ready from the summer harvest, grains and vegetables were ready to be made into porridges, the larger animals were slaughtered for winter food, and the community came together and reminded themselves what we all know: that to dwell in community and unity is protection through the long, cold, hard winter nights. This was actually a time that perhaps we in America more associate with Thanksgiving, where the fruits of the harvest were showed off (goose was the traditional meal, and in the United States this extended to turkeys), there were games and dances and parades. Barns and larders were filled, and the people were thankful.
Today, we recount the story of St. Martin. St. Martin, a Roman solider, who saw a shivering beggar outside the city gates. He cut his cloak in two and used half to cover the beggar. Later that night, in a dream it was revealed to him that the beggar had been Christ himself. This experience, and experience is one way that we learn about faith, became transformative and set St. Martin’s life on a course of compassion and light toward the most down trodden and poor. We carry lanterns in a meditative walk to remind us of the light we all possess inside. And we carry lanterns in community as we shine our collective light out into humanity.
Over the next few weeks, I will be writing about warmth, light, and protection as we shore ourselves not only against winter, but against division, fear, coldness and uncaring. Instead, we will be talking about ways to nourish ourselves and our families toward warmth, unity, joy and openness, and caring.
Many blessings to you,