By Norris Burkes  June 28 2020

As June concludes, my guess is you’ve likely found yourself among the millions of worldwide folks forced to postpone a meaningful family event like school graduation, a Father’s Day gathering or a wedding.

As a chaplain who has done scores of weddings, I remain especially conscious of the disappointment caused by their postponement.

In a recent USA Today article, Jessica Menton found several engaged couples who were lucky enough to get refunds on their deposits. They are using those reimbursements in some refreshingly innovative ways to rediscover their values. 

One couple made the investor’s choice to buy a house instead of a wedding. Others took the safe option and postponed the party by getting legally married now with a church wedding later.

But the couple I admire most is Emily Whalen, 29, and Joe Duschinsky, 30. They used their wedding refund to buy a school bus.

Whalen and her fiancé have redirected their $50K wedding budget to buy a 1990 school bus for $4,500. They will use the remaining monies to convert their bus to a solar powered Skoolie home on wheels and live the nomadic road life. 

They aren’t alone. There is an entire network of people called Skoolies. (Read more about the movement at 

The USAT reporter captures a quote from Whalen reciting the exact thing I’ve been telling premarital counselees for years “The wedding would have just been one day versus a life with experience and adventure.”

The couple’s yellow bus decision spawns a question I hope we are all asking in this pandemic: Is money most important for what it buys, or is it more helpful for the life experiences it allows?

My practice as a minister tells me that clearly the latter is more valuable. That’s because real life, like a marriage, can’t be reduced to a single day.  

It will always be our days that count – plural days, not singular. That means that in the case of our pandemic, the days of 2020 are only temporary. These months do not have to define our lives. 

Dr. Robert Redfield gave a stark reminder of that in Tuesday’s House hearing, where the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Covid-19 has “brought this nation to its knees.”

I know that to be true, doctor. Some of us are on our knees praying for employment. Some of us are pleading just for a break from all of this. A few of us are prostrate, ripped on the inside, praying for a loved one to recover. Certainly, all of us are praying for a cure.

But most of all, I hope we are all on our knees confessing that money can’t buy everything. From our prone position, I hope we hear divine guidance telling us to invest our future time and money into the lives of people, life experiences and health. Not fancier homes, bigger cars and pompous gatherings.

The Jewish Carpenter from Nazareth summarized the heartbeat of the matter when he encouraged his followers not to “…store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven….  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

I pray for that heartbeat to take over our nation.


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