Long ago, there lived a good young man named Martin. Even as a boy, he knew that one day he would be expected to serve in the military. His father was an important military officer. And, though he desired a peaceful life outside of the military, he knew that it would be his duty to follow the life of his father. So, Martin joined the military, became an officer, and was eventually assigned to garrison duty in the town of Amiens.
One bitterly cold winter evening, the young Martin rode through the gates of Amiens on his fine proud horse. He was dressed in the regalia of his military unit: gleaming armor, a bright helmet, and a beautiful red cloak, lined with lambs wool. It was nearly freezing outside, but his thick cloak kept him warm. He was hardly aware of the cold. But then, as he approached the gates of the town, he saw a poor man, a beggar, dressed with clothes so ragged that he was practically bare. The man was shaking and blue with cold, but no one reached out to help him. People would pass through the gates, looking straight ahead, so their eyes would not meet with those of the poor, desperate man.
Martin, seeing this, was overcome with compassion. He rode straight to the poor man and took off his red cloak. With one stroke of his sword he tore the lovely mantle in two. He wrapped half of the cloak around the freezing man and the other half around his own shoulders.
The people nearby watched in amazement. To see a fine military officer do such a thing was a ridiculous sight to many, but others were touched by the goodness that Martin showed.
That night, as Martin slept, he had a dream. A man appeared to him who looked so familiar, and he was wearing the half of the cloak Martin had given to the poor beggar. And then, Martin saw in the eyes of this man, and the light of the Divine which we all carry within us.
From that day on, Martin’s life was changed forever. He knew that he could no longer fight and harm other men as part of the military, for his true desire was to live a life of kindness, forgiveness, compassion and goodness.
Golden light is turning grey,
Mists begin to rule the day.
Bare the trees, their branches lift;
Clouds of dead leaves earthward drift.
Through the field the farmer goes,
Seeds of ripened corn he sows’
Trusts the earth will hold it warm,
Shelter it from cold and harm.
For he knows that warmth and light
Live there, hidden from our sight;
And beneath a sheltering wing,
Deep below, new life will spring!
(adapted from a story by Cerdiwen Anya Coit posted at www.herbnites.tripod.com/waldorfinspiredschool )