Story by Joseph J. Mazzella (Author)
I was eleven years old standing outside in just my underwear while I watched the house that I grew up in rapidly burn to the ground. A few minutes earlier I had been sound asleep in my nice, warm bed when a scream woke me up. My Nana’s bedroom was just next to mine and my brother’s. A fire had broken out there and awakened her. Hearing her my older brother had sprung into action. While I stumbled around in the smoke and darkness he ran from room to room quickly waking everyone in the house. The house, however, was over 50 years old and made of wood. Before we could do anything the fire consumed it. We all barely made it outside before the flames engulfed every room.
I stood there shivering while the fire destroyed my books, clothes, and toys. I watched helplessly while my Mom cried and my Dad swore. I wondered what was going to happen to us now that we had lost all of our things. As I looked around, though, I realized something for the first time: The things that matter, aren’t things. I saw my older brother running across the swinging bridge by our house to get help. I saw my oldest brother who was on crutches from an earlier accident standing unsteadily on one leg. I saw my Nana and Dad huddled together and my Mom holding our little dog in her arms. I realized at that moment that we were all alive. Everything that was essential had survived the fire. Our lives would continue. We would survive without the “stuff” that was burning. We would all be around to love each other for many years to come. And that was all that mattered.
I still think of that fire in the night that helped me to become who I am today. It showed me for the very first time what is truly essential in this life. It helped me to see God’s love and protection for us in this often difficult world. It helped me to learn that the love we share is far more important than the things we possess.
Live your life then for the things that matter, not for the things you own. Love others. Help everyone. Let the fire inside of you make this world a warmer place. Let your soul shine so bright that Heaven sings and God smiles.