What does the word ‘family’ mean to you? Does it conjure up images of the proverbial mom and dad with their offspring, or do you have a more elastic sense of what family is all about? On this we would all agree: Family is an essential cornerstone in our lives. In his early twentieth-century masterpiece, The Life of Reason, the philosopher and poet George Santayana said, "The family is one of nature's masterpieces." And as we hear from 12-year-old Matt Lannon, what matters ultimately is how each of us understands what family means in our own unique lives.
Matthew Lannon is a 12 year old sixth-grader at the Wheeler School in Providence. He recently testified in favor of same-sex marriage before the House and Senate Judiciary Committees in Rhode Island in support of his family. The legislation was signed by Rhode Island’s governor on May 2, 2013.
Renowned author Anne Lamott once wrote, “It's funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools.” And doesn’t it often happen that we have to depend on the simplest, most primitive things in our lives when times are tough? That’s exactly what happened with this 13-year old Jeremiah Matos.
Jeremiah Matos is an eighth grade student at TAPA: Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts. He is a visual artist, dancer, and filmmaker. Jeremiah loves exploring the root of his artistic side, and appreciating how a simple pencil changed his outlook on the world.
Madame Marie Curie, the renowned chemist and physicist who was the first female Nobel prize recipient, once said, “Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.” And isn’t it true that perseverance in the face of daunting odds is what helps us get through life’s challenging moments? That’s what we hear from Jennifer Bristol.
Jennifer Bristol is the Executive Director of Mount Hope Farm in, of all places, Bristol, Rhode Island. She reports having two amazing daughters, and lives in Pawtuxet Village with her best guy Jim and their best dog Rocket.
I imagine every single one of us has been deeply moved by a particular song or two that takes us right back to pivotal moments in our lives. It’s almost like imprinting – a certain melody or lyrics can connect us instantly to an earlier moment that was transformative. As the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen said in the 19th century, “Where words fail, music speaks.” And that’s what we hear from 13-year old Jania Brown.
Jania Brown is an eighth grade student at TAPA: Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts. She is a dancer, musician, and cheerleader. For Jania, a voice from beyond the grave changed her whole vision about music.
What life doesn’t have its share of struggles? Some are bigger than others, of course, but surely we’ve all known some measure of disappointment, loss, and sorrow. As the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus said, “You don't develop courage by being happy in your relationships every day. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.” For Francisco Oller, what matters most in life is how we cope with the challenges that come our way.
Francisco Oller is 19 years old and was born with a rare genetic disease called Pelizaeus Merzbacher. Oller was born in Puerto Rico and lived there until enrolling at Providence College, where he is currently a student. Oller says that his disability has made him a determined, courageous, and very resilient person.
This is a truism in all our lives: We grow up filled with dreams about where life will take us or, better yet, where we will take life. Some of our dreams come to fruition yet, sadly, others are dashed in painful ways. Henry David Thoreau says in the conclusion of his book Walden, in which he details his two-year experience living in his cabin near Walden Pond, "I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours." Rabbi Elan Babchuck reflects on his own dashed dreams and how they have taught him how to live a life with real meaning.
Rabbi Elan Babchuck decided to follow his passion and is now a rabbi at Temple Emanu-El in Providence. These days he drives a sensible, family sedan and loves nothing more than hitting the road and exploring the world with his wife Lizzie and their son Micah, who, significantly, is named after his late grandfather, Michael.
There are ten words none of us ever wants to hear about a loved one: "I have some very difficult news to share with you." What comes next can't possibly be good; we hope, and perhaps pray, that we have the strength to cope with whatever we are about to hear. In this encore essay, Audrey Kupchan tells us what sustained her after she received bad news about the person who is at the center of her world.
Dr. Audrey Kupchan is a transplanted New Yorker who has been practicing Primary Care Internal Medicine in Rhode Island since 1984. She is a physician with Coastal Medical in East Providence. She lives with her family in Barrington.
Imagine the excitement when you get an electronically breathless Twitter message from a dear friend announcing that she just posted a link on Facebook to a stunningly engaging novel she just listened to wirelessly on her electronic tablet. Does this make you feel warm and fuzzy all over, and just desperate to curl up all nice and cozy with your Kindle? Or, as we hear in Eileen Landay's encore essay, does this all-too-common scenario lead you to wonder where we're headed as a literate society?
Women over 40 come into motherhood in several different ways. What they share is a fierceness of spirit, perseverance and a host of other qualities. Cyma Shapiro, in her work with midlife mothers, aims to dispel myths about this group; redefine women and middle age; and provide these mothers with a voice, face and forum. Her essay about her own midlife-motherhood journey also speaks to this group’s singular truths about the breakdown of all relational obstacles, and love and life choices.