Last night we went on our lantern walk to celebrate Martinmas-- bringing light into the darkness, lifting our voices in song, and trying not to get caught in the forecasted downpour.
This was our fourth Martinmas celebration-- just our little family. I don't know what it's like to walk en masse with a group of torch bearers, but there's something about the symbolism of this celebration that's deep, even with the light of one lantern lighting a path through the darkness. We've walked in the woods. We've walked in our neighborhood. And for the last two years, we've walked through the twisting, dimly-lit, forest paths of a university campus, singing our songs and bringing smiles to those who cross our paths. There's something about that... bringing this ethereal image to touch the lives of unsuspecting others that made our last two walks the most rewarding of all.
We carry very simple folded-paper lanterns that we painted with watercolors. For the lanterns below we used medium-weight drawing paper that measured 30x40 cm. After folding, cutting, and gluing (see pattern,) we attach pipe cleaner handles with a hole puncher and tape tea lights in the bottom. They turn out fairly sturdy.
There are many variations on the story of St. Martin and how he shared his cloak with a beggar. We tell a similar version, though not quite, to this one. The story itself is just one example of choosing kindness. By celebrating this day we're also recognizing the light within ourselves, our own goodness, and releasing it into the world. The light of our lanterns on this night seems to sustain us, carry us, through the long dark nights that lead up to the solstice. It keeps us mindful that there's something deeper, brighter, and more meaningful at play here.