Tuesday, July 15, 2014

MY FEET IN THE SAND: My Visit With Mattie And The Gift Of ASSIGNMENT

For about ten days Mattie was to come to Los Angeles to take care of me during and after my second chemo treatment.  She did but what she left me with was a lesson far greater than the physical service she imparted.  Assignment.

Mattie and Me

I've talked to you about my friend Wincey.  Fellow Griot,

playwright, musician, publisher, minister, God-fanatic, wise counselor and the list goes on.  I spoke of Mattie's visit and explained how Mattie had been relentless about her service to and of me.  Mattie is Injeel's oldest sister.  She sent her three adult children to L.A. a little over a month prior, for her brother's graduation from law school.  She passed on the visit because her purpose was to come a short time later to help care for me.  Mattie is a 29 year Breast Cancer survivor.

After I explained to Wincey how amazing the interaction with Mattie was, Wincey spoke one word in that smoky Preacher's cadence: "Assignment.  I love when people understand Assignment, Thank you Jesus!"  That word and statement immediately pinged me.

Wincey's Album Time To Say
#WinceyCo Music

A few days later, a near and dear friend of mine was by the house.  She tried over and over to convince Mattie to accompany her to their favorite store, Kohl's.  Earlier, my friend had had a mishap.  A can from a grocery store crash landed upon her big toe.  The bruising, swelling and discoloration was immediate.  We tried for hours to convince my friend to go to Urgent Care opposed to Kohl's.  My friend didn't budge.  She was on assignment, so the toe could wait.  (I'm just getting at this writing, that she too was on assignment and I secretly condemned her for not tending to her medical needs.  For, now, I understand that today I'm All medical needs first.) 

But in my friend's assignment, she intently sought to pull Mattie into her assignment.  Mattie didn't budge.  My friend knew I wasn't going to Kohl's.  She knows I rarely shop with adult women for clothes or general item shopping with the exception of food--I love food shopping--but shopping for anything other than food; the experience rarely moves me.  I volunteered to go with my friend and sit in Urgent Care--my assignment--but shopping was out.  So for another hour my friend sought to pull Mattie into her assignment.  Again, Mattie didn't budge.  And Mattie was quietly truthful about why.  Just as she'd told her brother on several occasions throughout the week, "....I'm not here for you/that, I'm here for Toni..."  I even volunteered Mattie on a couple of occasions and she swiftly reminded me how she's not here for that.

You see Mattie was on her ASSIGNMENT.  And her assignment was from GOD.  Mattie didn't veer left or right.  Mattie understood that her assignment was service and devotion to God, I just happen to be on the receiving end of that Blessing.  I would come to understand that it had less to do with me and more to do with God and Assignment.

One of the most valuable lessons that will stick with me long after Mattie's first visit is to be mindful and purposeful with assignment.  I am to see it through no matter what distractions--and they will come--are laid before your feet.

This wouldn't be the first time for me to get this lesson.  Marva Collins, a famed Chicago Teacher once told the story of the little girl at the bathroom sink.  Collins and the kids had traveled to a not so far school for an academia project.  When the Black girl reached the sink to wash her hands, a White girl approached from behind and taunted her.  The White girl called the Black girl infamous names and prodded the girl to hurry up and get out of the way.  Collins had been looking from afar to observe how her student would handle the situation.  The White girl continued to scream obscenities but the Black girl continued to wash her hands.  When the Black girl finished, in her rhythm, she turned to grab a paper towel, dried her hands and discarded the paper towel in the trash.  Finally, as the Black girl passed, the White girl screamed another expletive.  The Black girl stopped and calmly exclaimed, "A wise man would never insult me, A fool never could...." and walked off. 

As I'm writing, I think it was about a water fountain, not sure--this was in the 80's or 90's.  The point is the following: whether at a sink washing her hands or at the water fountain to get a drink of water, it wasn't about the expletives, insults or even the retort.  This was about the assignment.  The Black girl was on assignment and no distractions thrown her way, would she allow to veer her off of her trajectory.  ASSIGNMENT.

Are you on assignment or marred in the distraction?


  1. Toni this so powerful ... what a sister Mattie is & what a blessing to have her & you as our nieces. Love you both to life.

  2. My sweet dear Toni. I'm not sure all of your writing skills have not been meant for this moment. You are in my daily prayers. Thank you so much for sharing yourself with us.

  3. Praise GOD !!!!

  4. Thank u so much my sister remember God requires availability not ability. Much love, Mattie