Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Little Frankie

When I was a little boy, my Godfather lived on a hill above my home. "Little Frankie," as everyone called him, was a small, 80-year-old, first generation, Italian immigrant. He had worked for the railroads his entire life and had saved a lot of money. Still, he lived a 19th-century life in a 20th-century world.

He lived in three rooms of a slowly crumbling, 100-year-old house. He didn't have electricity or running water. He cooked his meals and heated his rooms with an ancient, cast iron, coal stove. His clothes were old, patched, and worn.

A lot of people saw all of this and looked down on him, but I never did. When I went up the hill to visit him, I always felt at home. Little Frankie had a simple joy and peace about him that touched my heart. We could sit and talk for hours. He was a loving soul, and even though he died when I was still very young, he had an influence on my life that lasts to this day.

Little Frankie taught me that enlightenment isn't being free of work, problems and pains. It comes from facing them all with a peaceful spirit and a loving heart. He taught me that having more things doesn't bring you more happiness. He took more pleasure out of a meal of fried potatoes than a billionaire could get dining on Champaign and caviar. He taught me, most of all, that the greatest joy comes from the quiet time you spend with God.

I have had few moments as joyful as the ones I spent with Little Frankie, just silently sitting on a rock and listening to the stream that ran by his home. He was one of the greatest men I have ever known.

The 21st century may be full of things that help us to connect with each other, but to have real love, joy and oneness with God, we need to connect with the quiet in our own hearts and souls.

In honor of Little Frankie, I am going to turn off my television, cell phone and computer for awhile today. I am going to go sit by a stream, remember him and spend some time with God...

Little Frankie - By Joseph J. Mazzella

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