I still don't have my voice back, at least, not at full strength. I've gotten by at work and at home, even managing to read stories aloud. Every evening, I start coughing around 6:30 pm, which makes bedtime for the small son a rather cough-filled affair. He's still fit as a fiddle, though he has a red ring of chapping around his mouth from the cold air outside and his little pink tongue. It's been okay, though not pleasant, being a little sick. I accept it as part of the changing seasons around here.
Tonight was the Lantern Walk for my son's class. There's a tradition in Germany and the Netherlands, and possibly in some other European countries, of children going out in the streets on St. Martin's feast day, carrying colorful lanterns and singing about them. An old legend has it that Martin, unwilling to take the post of Bishop of Tours to which he was called, took refuge in a goose pen. The townsfolk sought him by lantern light until a goose honked and gave away his hiding place. Hence, a lantern walk (also hence, the eating of geese on Martinmas, and the source of Mårten Goosy-Gander's name in The Marvelous Adventures of Nils). Waldorf schools have their roots in Germany, and so Waldorf classes around the world take to the streets and the parks and the seashores on an evening near to November 11, to walk and sing and light the night. For older children, the theme of St. Martin's generosity and compassion for the poor is emphasized. For little ones, it is a chance to embrace the changing seasons and the growing necessity of a shining our own inner light as the outer world grows darker and colder.
Son and I drove to the Peace Garden with our lanterns, his made of wool and glass, mine of paper. We gathered with his classmates in the icy cold twilight. We lit the lanterns, and the singing began.
I have been going on Lantern Walks for 13 years as a teacher, and for three as a parent. I have always sung. Tonight, I could not sing. Always, it has been through singing the songs, strongly and confidently, that I have tried to keep the children focused on the walk and on the songs, to keep the parents from dissolving into chatter about the weather and car repairs and chicken pox and dessert, to be helpful and useful. And tonight, I couldn't sing. I tried -- over and over, I tried, and I was ashamed by the croaks and squeaks that came forth.
So I stopped singing. I gave up on helping to "hold" the children, the parents, the walk. I let go, and I held my lantern in the cold, and I walked behind and beside my child. I watched my step on the paths through the woods near the cemetery fence, and I admired the luminaries along the way. Tonight, I let go and participated. Tonight was my first lantern walk as just a parent.
And it was magic.
eta: I have noticed that mobile browsers are cutting off the last line of my posts. I am going to see what happens now.
Sara is a storyteller, writer, artist, teacher, wife, mother, and singer living in Minnesota. I write about storytelling, and about living a life with stories.