Once upon a time, there lived a little boy named Anthony. He lived in a small house by the sea, with his mother, father and two older brothers. His home was just outside a tiny village named Amalfi in a land called Italy.
Every child has something special about the day on which they were born. Anthony was born on November 11, the same day as Saint Martin. And so, as they shared the same birthday, Saint Martin was always very special to Anthony.Every year, on the eve of his birthday, his parents would tell him the story of Saint Martin, of how he was a soldier in the Roman army hundreds of years ago and how he rode a magnificent white horse.He carried a sword by his side and wore a great cloak made of velvet. Anthony loved to hear of how Martin entered the gates of a great city in northern France one cold, autumn evening.When Martin saw a hungry and cold beggar at the gates, he was deeply moved with compassion.He wanted to help the poor man. He swiftly jumped off his horse, removed his cloak, and with one swift stroke, cut his cloak in two and lovingly shared his coat with the beggar. Some people made fun of him, but Martin paid them no heed.
Anthony especially liked the next part of the story where Martin was visited by his angel that night, commending him on his deed of kindness for others.. After that, Martin left the Roman army and became a man who wanted to work for peace and do kind deeds for others.
On the night before his seventh birthday, Anthony laid in bed, thinking about good Martin and his kind heart. "I want to be like him!" Anthony exclaimed. "I want to share something that I have with others too. But what do I have? I don't have a big horse or a fancy cape. I am only a little boy, with my silver dog, Gypsy." As he drifted off to sleep, he left his question deep in the wings of his angel, hoping for an answer to come the next morning.
That night, Anthony was visited by his angel.The radiance of the light filled his whole room and he felt warmed through and through. The angel spoke softly to Anthony. "You too have a gift to share with others " said the angel. "You have the gift of music. Your task in life will be to play your violin for people. The joy with which you play will open the hearts of those who hear your music. All kinds of people will love your music, but especially the children. When you play, the children will come to you and will love you.Go out into the darkness of the world and shine forth the light of your music. You will never be alone. I will be with you always and the stars will forever shine down and smile upon you."
The old people of the village know of a wise saying that goes..."the morning is wiser than the night." That morning, the day of his seventh birthday, Anthony awoke with the answer to his question and a determined will. "I know just what to do!" he said to himself. He made a little round lantern out of paper and glue. It was deep blue, like the sky at night. Then, he cut little windows for the light to shine through. The windows were the shape of stars. He glued shiny golden paper behind each window. After it dried, he carefully placed a little candle inside. It was as warm as a sunbeam in there! Anthony smiled to himself as he thought of laughing stars. Out of the leftover golden paper, he even made a collar for his dog, Gypsy and he lovingly wrapped it around his neck.Gypsy licked his hand as if to say "thank you!"
That night, when the sky turned dark, and the stars came out to play, Anthony walked out to the town square with his lantern, his violin and his faithful companion, Gypsy. He was not afraid, as he remembered the words of his angel "I will be with you always." He lit his lantern and opened his violin case. Gypsy admired his own starry collar and then watched Anthony play his violin. He played every song he knew and he played his very best. He played with a purity that made the angels smile down in admiration. His favorite song of all was Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.He knew so many different ways to play this song that he never tired of it. The more he played, the more brightly his little lantern would glow.
Suddenly, the people in the village heard this wondrous music and they opened their windows to listen. They asked "who is playing this beautiful music?" They all left their homes, the young and the old, and slowly entered the square. One by one, they smiled to see a little boy, playing violin to his heart's content, with his dog at his side. Just as the light of the angel filled his room the night before, the joy of the music filled the hearts of all the towns' people that very night. Some people tapped their feet, some danced and twirled while others just sat and listened. Many children exclaimed "I want to play music like that too!"
Anthony returned home that night with Gypsy, content and satisfied. "Now I know what I am here to do" he said to himself. From that day on, he played his little violin each and every day. And just as he grew bigger over time, so did his violin, and so did the capacity of his heart.
when he grew up, he continued to share his love of music with others. He played by himself and he played in groups. He played at festivals, on street corners and in the quiet beauty of nature. He played in temples and in schools. Little children came to him and he loved to teach the children how to play the violin. Later on in his life, he even had a teacher by the name of Mr. Starr. Anthony smiled as he remembered the collar of stars around his boyhood dog, Gypsy.
Then one day, Anthony had so many students, he started his own little school. He called it the Star School and he shared his love of music with children all the days of his life. People everywhere came to experience his open heart and joyful smile as he played his beloved violin.Like good Martin, he too had found a way to shine his light into the darkness of the world. And his favorite song to this very day is still Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
written by Christine Summerfield- November 2017