Last Friday was the St. Martin's Lantern Walk at the school where I am working this term. It is a popular festival in continental Europe but little known in the English speaking world. The saint's day is 11th November so is often overshadowed by Armistice and Veterans' Day. Martin was a Roman soldier to begin with, before sharing his cloak with a beggar one stormy November day and realising that he was called to a Christian way of life. Martin's commanding officer accused him of cowardice when he asked to leave the army and made him face the enemy alone and naked. Martin was not afraid and when everyone saw his courage they left him alone. He made his way to France to become a monk and eventually Bishop of Tours.
Martin always reminds me that it takes courage to live your convictions when the way of the world is so different. Martin shows us how to shine a light into a dark world, just as the children shine a light with their lanterns in to the dark, November evening. The message of the festival is one of hope and sharing what we have, so that all are better off. I think that this is a good message to remember. Just like Martin we always have something we can share, even if it is just a smile !