A guest post by my wife, Sarah K-J:
For the third time, I handed my two-year-old son his homemade lantern and hoped the wind would allow a few minutes more of light. We were on our first “lantern walk.”
Guided by another young family with experience in this ancient tradition honoring St. Martin of Tours, we stepped out into the dark. Each young child bore a homemade lantern and eagerly watched the wind catch and play with the flame. We periodically stopped to relight each one. In the darkening dusk we walked along the beach, flickering orbs bobbing in front of young, expectant faces.
I was amazed at how gentle the wind was, how perfect the setting. The stars began to gain strength, and distantly echoed the scattered constellation of lanterned children. The waves stood back and gave us firm ground to walk on.
Our lights were small and inconsistent in the north Atlantic wind, but their hope a meaningful tribute to St. Martin. A Roman solider, Martin met a starving beggar at the city gates of Amiens. Moved with compassion, he tore his cloak in two, giving half to the beggar. That night in his sleep, Christ appeared to him dressed in the half-cloak. He was soon baptized and later became a bishop in the Church.
I’m unsure how much of the beauty and meaning the children were able to absorb, but the excitement and courage with which they carried their fragile paper lanterns in the wind of the North Atlantic gives me hope.
Their small lights were extinguished several times, but they kept asking for their lanterns to be lit again. Whenever their light withstood the wind, they joyfully announced it to all around, and fixed their eyes upon its hopeful, persistent light.