Monday, May 29, 2006

Just peace

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.
Just 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 or 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.

Sometimes the most important messages come from the most unlikely places. Mattie J.T. Stepanek, a 13-year-old boy, made a difference before he died with his Heartsongs poetry. He continues to impact the world through Just Peace. This poet, best-selling author, peace activist, and prominent voice for the Muscular Dystrophy Association fervently believed in and promoted world peace not just as a concept, but as a reality.

Mattie was working on Just Peace with Jimmy Carter when he died in June 2004. His mother, Jeni, who edited the material and wrote a preface for the book is publishing it at her son's request. Just Peace explores Mattie's concept of the world and all people as a unique mosaic of gifts. War and injustice shatter the mosaic, which can only be made whole again by planning and actively pursuing peace. The young visionary's essays, poetry, and photographs appear throughout the book. Jimmy Carter has written a special foreword and forthword for the book.

Just as important to the book and enlightening to the reader are Mattie's many correspondences. Central to these are his personal e-mails to and from former president Jimmy Carter, Mattie's peace "hero" and role model. The Nobel Peace Prize winner met Mattie, considered him an angel, messenger, and hero in his own right, and was genuinely affected by Mattie's passion and drive. Just Peace is an intimate portrait of a president, a young man of hope, and peace itself.

A portion of the proceeds from Just Peace will be donated to the MDA Mattie Fund designated for medical research to help find treatments and cures for childhood neuromuscular diseases.

In his eulogy, Former President Jimmy Carter told the congregation that throughout his long and varied public life, which has included shaking millions of hands, traveling to more than 120 countries and knowing "kings and queens, presidents and prime ministers," Mattie was "the most extraordinary person" he has ever known.

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