I will be blessed next week to see an area of my life come full circle.
Many years ago while working for Eckerd Youth Alternatives, I had the chance to work with a young man that I came to admire a great deal. I think I was especially fond of him because the longer I worked with him, the more I saw images of my own teenage years. He also taught me a valuable lesson that would equip me to be a better mentor to other young people I would work with over the years: that I wasn't dealing with troubled kids as much as I was dealing with kids just like me that had for one reason or another missed out on some of the many breaks I had received.
Many years would pass before I would talk to this young man again. I was sitting in my office one day when I received a letter from the Samoan Islands where this young man was running a small surf shop. He had heard that Katie and I were expecting a baby. In his letter he told me that he was excited to hear that I was going to be a father. He said that the baby was a lucky baby because he knew he was going to have a wonderful father. Words can never express what that meant to me.
Fast forward past several phone calls and letters and annual Christmas cards to earlier this year. I got an invitation in the mail to attend this young man's wedding in the Virgin Islands where, coincidentally, Katie and I were married. Now I'm not a huge fan of flying. I mean it ranks right up there with contracting the Swine Flu (does that still exist?). But I knew this was a wedding I couldn't miss. So next week we'll be going to St. John in the Virgin Islands to be a part of this wonderful occasion.
This young man called me a few weeks back and asked if I would be willing to speak at the wedding. I said sure, like what do you want me to talk about. He said I thought you could be the guy that says "do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?' I said I thought that sounded like something the preacher would say. He said, yea, something like that. He said he would do some thinking about it and get back with me in a couple of days. The next day I received a link to a website where I sent my name and email address. In less than five minutes they responded to me as Reverend Cartwright. I was officially ready to officiate he and his wonderful fiance's wedding. The irony, coincidence, or whatever you want to call it - I am now ordained through the same church as Reverend Speight who married Katie and I. I always wondered why this IBM executive left California to go to the Virgin Islands to be a minister to couples like me and Katie. Now I know it was probably in response to an email.
We are looking forward to the trip. It will be nice to go back to where Katie and I started our lives together. I pray that our presence will help Ashley and Tyler start a life together that will be filled with as much love and joy as my marriage has brought me. I also look forward to telling Tyler that my boys may be lucky to have me as a father, but not nearly as lucky as I'll be if they grow up to be young men who pursue life with the passion and joy that he does.
Please keep us in your prayers next week as we travel. Also, keep both sets of grandparents in your prayers as they keep up with these two guys below:
Also, if you would like to see one small tidbit of what Tyler is up to these days, he is the first guy to open a door and catch a tossed NFL jersey (Dolphins) in the commercial below: