Do you remember Mattie? Born as Matthew Joseph Thaddeus Stepanek, this sweet child was an American poet (who began writing at age 3) with six books of poetry and a collection of “Just Peace” essays, all which became New York Times bestsellers. How cool is that?
Mattie was born with a rare disorder now known as Dysautonomic Mitcochondrial Myopathy, that took him heavenward just one month before his 14th birthday.
I thought I would write about Mattie, because I, too, had a medically fragile son that gave me 15 1/2 years of pure joy and gave me such delight, as I know Mattie brought to his mother also. Jeni Stepanek, his mother, has also been diagnosed with the same disorder and has lost three other children to the neuromuscular disease. Despite their loss and tragedy, this is a family that knows about love and grace.
Jeni is a woman filled with courage and inspiration to not only mothers, but to everyone all over the world. She and Mattie are beautiful examples of God’s love and how we are to respond with love. Mattie once told his mom that his job was to ” give words, and to give a voice to God’s message.” I imagine that when little Mattie spoke these words it made his mother smile.
What message are you giving? What message is heard in your tone, or your attitude…..or even your silence? As God’s messengers, we are to give hope to the hopeless and help to those in need. We are the eyes, ears, hands and feet of Christ and our message is clear – love one another. Mattie did this even as a little boy and now his mother continues to carry his message and offer hope and peace to those in need.
Since this is the Love Month, I thought I would share a poem he wrote from his book, “Heartsongs“…
PINCH OF PEACE
Tonight my prayers are for the world.
We have to stop this fighting.
We have to stop the wars.
People need to lay down their weapons,
And find peace in their hearts.
People need to stop arguing and hating.
People need to notice the good things.
People need to remember You, God.
Maybe You could come and
Shoot a little bow-and-arrow pinch
Into all the angry peoples’ hearts, God.
Then they would feel You again.
And then they would realize what
They are doing and how horrible the
Killing and hating and fighting is,
And they might even begin to pray.
Then, they could reach in, and
Pull the little bow-and-arrow pinch
Out of their hearts and feel good
And be loving and living people again.
The world would be at peace, and
The children would be safe, and
The people would be happy, and
We could all say “thank You” together.
by: Mattie J.T. Stepanek (used with permission from Journey Through Heartsongs, Hyperion 2002)