Photo of a section of the plywood barrier erected around Ground Zero, NYC

It could be argued whether our country is a safer place, whether we have grown stronger or weaker, whether we have learned any lessons at all since 9/11.

Eleven years ago today, Matthew Joseph Thaddeus Stepanek (July 17, 1990 – June 22, 2004) wrote a poem.  It wasn’t his first work of poetry and it wouldn’t be his last.  During his life, Mattie authored seven books of poetry and essays.  He died of a rare form of muscular dystrophy a month before his 14th birthday.


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.


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One Comment

  1. Roberta September 14, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    What a beautiful thought and from such a young sensitive boy. I do indeed believe he had a great faith and was ready to meet the Lord.