For our world

Recently my good friend Hugh Wilfong recommended this wonderful poem to me. I think you will enjoy it as much as I did.

“We need to stop.
Just stop.
Stop for a moment . . .
Before anybody
Says or does anything
That may hurt anyone else.
We need to be silent.
Silent for a moment . . .
Before we forever lose
The blessing of songs
That grow in our hearts.
We need to notice.
Just notice.
Notice for a moment . . .
Before the future slips away
Into ashes and dust of humility.
Stop, be silent, and notice . . .
In so many ways, we are the same.
Our differences are unique treasures.
We have, we are, a mosaic of gifts
To nurture, to offer, to accept.
We need to be.
Just be.
Be for a moment . . .
Kind and gentle, innocent and trusting
Like children and lambs,
Never judging and vengeful
Like the judging and vengeful.
And now, let us pray,
Differently, yet together,
Before there is no earth, no life,
No chance for peace.”

~ Mattie Stepanek

Mattie J.T. Stepanek, a well-respected poet and peace activist, lived a life that was brief in length but powerfully blessed with depth. Born on July 17, 1990, Mattie began creating and sharing Heartsongs at the young age of 3. He explained that Heartsongs are “gifts that reflect each person’s unique reason for being.”

Mattie ultimately published six collections of his Heartsongs poetry books and one collection of Just Peace essays and e-mail correspondence between Mattie and Former President Jimmy Carter. All seven of Mattie’s books became New York Times Bestsellers and touched millions of lives around the world.

He died on June 22, 2004 due to complications of Dysautonomic Mitochondrial Myopathy.

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Consolation

“How agreeable it is not to be touring Italy this summer,
wandering her cities and ascending her torrid hilltowns.
How much better to cruise these local, familiar streets,
fully grasping the meaning of every roadsign and billboard
and all the sudden hand gestures of my compatriots.

There are no abbeys here, no crumbling frescoes or famous
domes and there is no need to memorize a succession
of kings or tour the dripping corners of a dungeon.
No need to stand around a sarcophagus, see Napoleon’s
little bed on Elba, or view the bones of a saint under glass.

How much better to command the simple precinct of home
than be dwarfed by pillar, arch, and basilica.
Why hide my head in phrase books and wrinkled maps?
Why feed scenery into a hungry, one-eyes camera
eager to eat the world one monument at a time?

Instead of slouching in a café ignorant of the word for ice,
I will head down to the coffee shop and the waitress
known as Dot. I will slide into the flow of the morning
paper, all language barriers down,
rivers of idiom running freely, eggs over easy on the way.

And after breakfast, I will not have to find someone
willing to photograph me with my arm around the owner.
I will not puzzle over the bill or record in a journal
what I had to eat and how the sun came in the window.
It is enough to climb back into the car

as if it were the great car of English itself
and sounding my loud vernacular horn, speed off
down a road that will never lead to Rome, not even Bologna.”
~ Billy Collins

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Thank you

After a long and arduous journey a young Japanese man arrived deep in a forest where the teacher of his choice was living in a small house he had made. When the student arrived, the teacher was sweeping up fallen leaves.  Greeting his master, the young man received no greeting in return.  And to all his questions, there were no replies.  Realizing there was nothing he could do to get the teacher’s attention, the student went to another part of the same forest and built himself a house.  Years later, when he was sweeping up fallen leaves, he was enlightened.  He dropped everything, ran through the forest to his teacher, and said, “Thank you.”

– John Cage sharing an old Zen story in his book Silence

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We live in an extraordinary age

“We live in an extraordinary age. These are times of stunning changes in social organization, economic well-being, moral and ethical precepts, philosophical and religious perspectives, and human self-knowledge, as well as in our understanding of that vast universe in which we are embedded like a grain of sand in a cosmic ocean. (…)

As long as there have been human beings, we have posed the deep and fundamental questions, which evoke wonder and stir us into at least a tentative and trembling awareness, questions on the origins of consciousness; life on our planet; the beginnings of the Earth; the formation of the Sun; the possibility of intelligent beings somewhere up there in the depths of the sky; as well as, the grandest inquiry of all – on the advent, nature and ultimate destiny of the universe. For all but the last instant of human history these issues have been the exclusive province of philosophers and poets, shamans and theologians.

The diverse and mutually contradictory answers offered demonstrate that few of the proposed solutions have been correct. But today, as a result of knowledge painfully extracted from nature, through generations of careful thinking, observing, and experimenting, we are on the verge of glimpsing at least preliminary answers to many of these questions. (…)

If we do not destroy ourselves, most of us will be around for the answers. Had we been born fifty years earlier, we could have wondered, pondered, speculated about these issues, but we could have done nothing about them. Had we been born fifty years later, the answers would, I think, already have been in. Our children will have been taught the answers before most of them will have had the opportunity to even formulate the questions.

By far the most exciting, satisfying and exhilarating time to be alive is the time in which we pass from ignorance to knowledge on these fundamental issues; the age where we begin in wonder and end in understanding. In all of the four-billion-year history of the human family, there is only one generation privileged to live through that unique transitional moment: that generation is ours.” ~ Carl Sagan in Broca’s Brain

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