HEARTSONGS: The Story of Matti Stepanek Will Knock Your Socks Off

Requiem in Sea

Oh, to call the conch my home . . .

Stormy-smoothed tunnels of


pe walls spiraling into

Pearl-shimmered dyes,

Ever-changing with the light

Of the sun, of the moon,

Of the tide, and the gloaming,

And surging, and sighing,

Of the sea . . .

Of that space

That calls to me

Beyond the Polished Pier,

Beyond the now, and here.

Echo of ocean breath,

Silhouette of Light,

Indescribable description

Passing, mortal fathoming.

Passion, ebbing into solace,

Upon realizing the sanctum

Of our perpetual Home

Along the shores of paradise,

No longer a distant horizon.

Oh, to call the conch my home . . .

Such a lovely dwelling space

For the here, and the now.

Or perhaps,

A dove, an ark, a whelk, or

Any some-other lovely shell,

To be left on the shore

Like the hollows of driftwood

Or the gentle leavings of flower petal


When requiem passage calls.

–Mattie Stepanek, age 13

Today I write to tell you that you MUST read this book.

Jeni Stepanek, a mother who is herself afflicted with the genetic disease which took her four children, wrote Messenger: The Legacy of Mattie J.T. Stepanek and Heartsongs as a tribute to her beloved son, who died just before his fourteenth birthday.

Perhaps you saw Mattie on television during his all too brief fourteen years, or heard him speak or recite his poetry.

Mattie, and his three siblings before him, died of a rare disease called dysautonomic mitochondrial myopathy. But Mattie Stepanek was more than a sick child. Mattie J.T. Stepanek was a bestselling author who publishing six collections of his Heartsong poetry and one collection of peace essays that all became New York Times bestsellers and eventually sold more than 2 million copies. But his legacy lives strongest in his choice—his decision to celebrate life and perceive it as a blessing even during the most painful moments.

Oprah Winfrey called him “an inspiration”; Maya Angelou saw him as a kindred spirit and fellow poet; and Jimmy Carter described Mattie Stepanek as “the most remarkable person I have ever known.”

I’d like to add one more accolade: Mattie Stepanek is a saint. It is the miracle of this young boy’s cheerful holiness in the face of grave illness that stands out on the pages of this book.

Messenger is a story to make you laugh and make you cry, and then make you want to be somehow bigger, more alive, more fully present than you are today.

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3 Responses to “HEARTSONGS: The Story of Matti Stepanek Will Knock Your Socks Off”

  1. Thank you for such a lovely review of the Messenger book, and my son’s life. You really got ‘the message’ and the key word for Mattie’s life: CHOICE! Thank you! May you know hope and peace during the upcoming holiday season, and may 2011 bring more reasons to smile than to sigh.
    In appreciation,
    Jeni Stepanek (“Mattie’s mom”).

  2. Kathy Schiffer says:

    No, Jeni, it is YOU who deserve the thanks for writing this beautiful and faith-filled book! I preordered my copy, so I know it’s just hitting bookstore shelves, and I’m sure it will be a great success. Mattie’s story lives on in my heart, and I know that others will be as touched as I was.

    I’m so sorry for your loss!


  3. […] the events unfold on September 11, 2001.  You may remember Mattie—I’ve written about him before, and his inspiring story has been told on countless television shows and news broadcasts.  […]

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