Wednesday, November 11, 2009

St. Martin's Day

Today is St. Martin's Day, when we celebrate the kindness of St. Martin, a soldier who came upon a beggar in a snowstorm. Martin cut his cloak in half to prevent the man from freezing.

It's a lovely thing to celebrate: kindness. There's simply not enough of it in this world. We have plenty of days to honor the outcome of violence, to celebrate victory, to honor those who died, but too few of our celebrations focus on the truly positive. The beauty of celebrating kindness is that it reminds us of the power we hold, simply by listening to and helping one another.

In Germany, St. Martin's Day is celebrated in a beautiful way, with lantern festivals to light the long night. Darkness comes early this time of year (already!). For the past few weeks, children have been making lanterns, which they illuminate and carry during a lantern festival. Throughout the neighborhoods are lantern parades, songs, and often a bonfire.

We attended a Laternenfest last night with our children. This year, it came on the heels of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It has been an extraordinary week, filled with excitement and festivities. Now we need to carry some of that optimism over to our daily lives, to help us remember what really matters.

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