Stones of Remembrance by Elaine Allessio
However, one of the most exciting aspects of humanity has been all people’s ability to follow the annual seasons-the matter of life- and create “holes in time”; holidays. Many of our holidays have their origin in the earth’s transitions which have in turn led to a higher spiritual order. For example, the fact of the winter solstice which begins a lightening of our days in small increments has been the basis of many of our December light filled holidays. Is it a coincidence that inspiring lives of famous personages are at the apex of these “holes in time”, holy days, holidays?
On Veterans Day, our Lower Elementary class honored this holiday albeit a somber one. We walked to the Northfield Cemetery to place little stones of remembrance on the graves displaying the American flag, our soldiers. The children do not understand the historical background of this day but it felt so satisfying for them to place these stones in gratitude to our soldiers. Before our walk, I told them the story of Martin of Tours whose special day is on November 11.
Martin of Tours was a soldier in the Middle Ages in France who one day noticed a shivering, nearly naked beggar. Martin gave him his cloak and gave up soldiering to help the poor. He became a patron of the outcasts and homeless. He brought light to the world that November and forever. Hundreds of years later as World War I ended on November 11, 1918, peace albeit fleeting was restored to the world. Light returned. A coincidence in the dates? I’m not sure….
We are in danger today of losing our traditions. It seems that businesses and commercial interest are dictating what our holidays will become. Move Halloween? Halloween has a definite spiritual reason for being the date it is. Move this “hole in time” so more candy can be sold for a weekend outing? Would this feel satisfying?
We don’t necessarily need to know the story of Martin of Tours (although it would be nice) but we can honor a day that brought such relief to people in 1918 as well as give thanks for sacrifices made then and now. Let our children experience a higher order value-gratitude.