Let this truly be the celebration of a new year… Let us remember the past, yet not dwell in it. Let us fully use the present, yet not waste it. Let us live for the future, yet not count on it
14th January 2020
Matthew Stepanek was a truly unique individual who probably achieved more in his short thirteen years of life than many of us will do in a whole lifetime and wanted to be remembered as “a poet, a peacemaker, and a philosopher who played”. He also seemed to have what we might say was an old soul in a young body – wise beyond his years and an inspiration to many. I have to confess his was not a name with which I was familiar, until Mr Humphreys selected this quotation and I found myself researching his story.
Mattie was born in Washington DC on 17 July, 1990. He was the youngest of four children, each of whom inherited a rare and fatal neuromuscular disease called Dysautonomic Mitochondrial Myopathy. Despite this disability, Mattie went on to become both a well-respected poet and an award winning peace activist. He ultimately published six collections of his Heartsongs poetry books and one collection of Just Peace all of which became New York Times bestsellers. Mattie believed that we are each born with a “Heartsong” — or a reason for being and a purpose in life. He envisioned a world at peace, and saw humanity as a “mosaic of gifts, to nurture, to offer, to accept”. Following his death at the age of 13 on 22nd June 2004 a foundation was set up as a lasting memorial, its purpose to encourage peace-making as a deliberate choice and to foster an understanding of Mattie’s ‘Heartsongs and our ‘reason for being’.
Such a life as this should give us pause for thought as we enter a new year and new decade. Let us celebrate the things for which we can be grateful, remember the past but not dwell on it and seek to use the present that we have, as fully as possible. Mattie knew he could not count on a long future but was mindful of building for the future for others through peace-making and helping people find their reason for being. What could be more important than we do just that? A very happy new year to you all.