In a one week span during my time as a hospital chaplain I met two families who each had a loved one die on the day of their wedding. Both were unexpected. Much of that week was spent helping those families begin to deal with the grief of death and the grief of changed plans. It was a bizarre week, one that I forgot about until I found myself laying on my side at an urgent care clinic in Wilmington, NC last Saturday.

The fine folks of Providence Preparatory Academy flew me and the family out for a week so that I could speak at their annual teacher training and meet with several of their faculty and board members. Viv and I have been counting down to this trip; it was our first chance to go to the beach with our kids.

The first day of our trip involved two painful flights, a two hour drive, and leading a three hour talk and Q&A session. As I walked to the car to drive home late that night, the pain caught up with me. The next morning I had a very minor procedure done in a very uncomfortable part of my body. (Let’s just say that recovery involved not sitting for the next few days…)

As the doctor shared that this procedure meant that I won’t be able to get near water, I immediately thought of those two families from the hospital. Immediately, there was a change in perspective. It was disappointing news for us to hear, but I don’t think it was as devastating as it could have been if I had never spent time as a chaplain.

Viv was a champion, taking care of essentially three kids that week. We had the time of our life. The teachers responded really well to our time together, and our kids still ate up their time at the beach.

Next time I hope to have a chance to get in the ocean past my knees…