A Wedding

It was sundown at the beach. There was a small group gathered at the public beach access, dressed in wedding attire. The bride wore flowers in her hair and carried a bouquet. The groom wore slacks and a nice shirt. Everyone was barefoot.

I sort of grew up barefoot. In fact, I grew up on this very beach. I remember working as a beach attendant/lifeguard one summer, after getting my heart broken by a young woman who shall remain nameless.

One morning I showed up before work, when this beach was empty, I waded into the cool water and I asked God to notice me. Pathetic, I know. But that’s all I wanted, was to be seen. A body can go a whole lifetime without feeling like anyone sees them.

I remember I was in chest-deep water when a seagull immediately landed beside me. He dunked himself in the Gulf, then shook his feathers violently so that it looked like he had a little mohawk. I laughed, then dunked myself beneath the saltwater, reemerged, just like my new friend.

And the seagull stayed put, floating alongside yours truly, just staring at me. At the time I didn’t know what this mini experience meant, but it seemed to mean something.

“Is everybody ready?” shouted the groom. “Let’s get started before the sun sets!”

So the wedding party plodded across the beach in our bare feet, moving into position.

“Why’re you carrying that big book?” a kid asked me on our walk. “Are you the one marrying them?”

“Yes,” I said.

“You a preacher?”

I almost choked on my own spittle. “No.”

The story goes: I was legally ordained about a decade ago because a friend asked me to do their wedding. So I sent a certified check to a strange mail-order ordination company that charged me $150 to be a man of the cloth. In return, they sent me a little wallet-sized card that read: “Certificate of ordination.” I also got a name tag that said “CLERGY.”

Keep in mind, this was the same prestigious organization that ordained both Bob Newhart and Conan O’Brian.

I forgot all about my ordination for a few years until I was asked to perform a funeral. Although being ordained has nothing to do with funerals. The young man who died was named Roger. He was a father of three, and he did not like organized religion because he had been raised by a preacher who was abusive.

One night, Roger took me to a sports bar where we watched a Braves game and, over an ice-cold Shiner Bock, Roger told me he was dying of pancreatic cancer. He asked me to do his funeral because he wanted a non-preacher to perform his service.

I refused. But he pleaded. So one afternoon, I stood before 120 funeral attendees and basically made an idiot of myself by crying while I recited the 23rd Psalm.

That was a long time ago

“Everyone ready?” said the groom. “We’re about to do this!”

The wedding party found a place near the water’s edge. There were lots of tourists on the beach, sipping from insulated cups. The tourists figured out what was happening and sort of congregated around us to listen to the ceremony. They edged inward to hear over the crashing breakers.

I took a deep breath.

“Dearly beloved…” I began.

The bride and groom exchanged vows. We did the ring ceremony. I sang “Amazing Grace.” Then, I presented the happy couple to their friends and family.

And that’s when the whole beach erupted in spontaneous applause. Strangers, eavesdroppers and wedding goers alike.

There was a family of redheads nearby, clapping wildly. An old Latino man kissed his wife on the lips and held her close. There were onlookers wearing sweat-laden workout attire, cheering. A 91-year-old man in a Hawaiian shirt even brought a gift.

And as the happy newlyweds rushed away, I walked toward the water’s edge to remember a heartbroken young man who once worked on this same beach. A kid who had no confidence in himself. It seems like my life happened in another era.

I was lost in my thoughts when a small seagull landed next to my bare feet. The gull stood beside me, the same way it did years ago.

And I think I get it now. Although I wish I would have realized back then that asking heaven to notice you is unnecessary. For everyone is seen. Every living thing on this earth is seen. People. Newlyweds. Seagulls. And even sparrows like you and me.


  1. Linda Knight - May 6, 2022 9:08 am

    Your writing leaves me breathless, in a good way! A God breathing in me, spirit to spirit, soul to soul way. Thanks Sean.

    • Audrey - May 6, 2022 4:43 pm

      Awe! That warmed my heart.

  2. Debbie - May 6, 2022 9:23 am

    I forget how closely God watches. When I remember, I am in awe of His sweet, tender love. Constantly watching over His treasures, even me! What an amazing God! Thank you for the reminder that I so desperately need.

  3. Lily - May 6, 2022 9:45 am

    This is precious. Many times, your columns pull my heartstrings more than my daily devotions. Thank you.

  4. Emily - May 6, 2022 9:52 am

    Sean, I hope everyone below (and, aw heck, even above) the Mason-Dixon Line reads your post today and knows it to be true…”for His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watched me.”

  5. Lynn Poling - May 6, 2022 10:06 am

    Beautiful start to this Friday. Thank you.

  6. Theresa - May 6, 2022 11:05 am

    Excellent as always, so touching!

  7. Janellen - May 6, 2022 11:13 am

    Never a doubt just how close He is to us, “be still and know.” Today is 81 years since he breathed life into my body. Thank you Lord.

    • Debbie g - May 6, 2022 12:09 pm

      Happy birthday Janellen. From one sparrow to another and to my favorite
      Sparrow Sean. Thanks for encouraging
      Us !!!! Love to all

    • Patricia Dianne Gibson - May 6, 2022 4:18 pm

      Happy Birthday 🎈

  8. Ellen t. read - May 6, 2022 11:24 am

    ……stunned. you got me again. Right through the heart. Thank you

  9. Joy Jacobs - May 6, 2022 11:26 am

    Sweet. ❤️

  10. Grace Foxwell Murdock - May 6, 2022 11:32 am

    Dear story. I am also ordained. One wedding. An honor.

  11. susieklein - May 6, 2022 11:56 am

    I love this so much! I asked a similar question last year in my backyard and a bird landed on a tree near by. I stared and thanked God and then watched the bird poop on my pool.
    I wrote about it too, but not nearly as beautifully as you.

  12. Ann Thompson - May 6, 2022 11:57 am

    ❤️is grand.

  13. crowsfeetchronicles - May 6, 2022 12:09 pm

    I love you. (Don’t tell your wife, altho I doubt if she’d feel threatened by a 75 year old woman well past her prime.) I’ve often said, “we all want to be seen and heard.” Thank you for capturing us all in your stories.

  14. Janet W. - May 6, 2022 12:10 pm

    You may be a “non-preacher”, but boy, you touch my heart with your thoughts!

  15. pmb1956 - May 6, 2022 12:11 pm

    I write a Sunday article for our Daily Iberian here in New Iberia, Louisiana. I’m one of three. So many of your articles wind up being a prompt for me and my lil no-more-than-whatever words article. It’s called Across the Bayou because the old-timers here called the other side that no matter what side they’re on, and they pronounced “bayou,” “baya.” Anywho, your article today brought tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat as I worked at swallowing my Community Coffee. That’s all I got! Thanks for writing.

  16. kenneth michael somerset - May 6, 2022 12:17 pm

    even you and me. thank you Lord. amen, amen

  17. Gwen - May 6, 2022 12:31 pm

    His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches over me …and you.

  18. Fran Willard - May 6, 2022 12:31 pm


  19. Jan - May 6, 2022 12:33 pm

    You are one of His children and He watches over you always!

  20. Lonnie - May 6, 2022 12:37 pm

    I’m heading to the crescent beach for a wedding tomorrow. This was perfect. I’ll] ay special attention to the seagulls. Thank you.

  21. Teresa Girton - May 6, 2022 12:42 pm

    Sean, I’m watching you grow every day.
    I’m so proud of the man, the writer you are becoming.

  22. Pam - May 6, 2022 1:01 pm

    God wants so badly for us to also see Him. He waits for us to seek Him. To want to see Him. He loves us so….but He waits for us to choose Him.

  23. Lisa - May 6, 2022 1:09 pm

    Beautiful! 💕

  24. Lewis - May 6, 2022 1:20 pm

    Thanks for sharing.
    I’d rather be a sparrow than a snail . . .

  25. Maggie Priestaf - May 6, 2022 1:22 pm

    Yup! <3

  26. Gordon - May 6, 2022 1:46 pm

    Oh yes. “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me”. I’ve sung those text many times as a solo during my 50 years of music ministry in the local church. Thanks for the reminder that I must do it again soon.

  27. Judy - May 6, 2022 1:59 pm

    Amen. 🌻

  28. beachdreamer - May 6, 2022 2:01 pm

    After reading all the comments, what’s left to say? Your readers have said it all. Especially Teresa and Pam. I’ve gotten more inspiration at the beach than anywhere in God’s beautiful Creation. I seemed to have a connection with the pelicans mostly…inspiring me to write my first childrens book. Sadly I doubt if I’ll be able to go again, but have such fond memories. Yes, God would like to be noticed too! He’s definitely watching over us…He Will never leave or forsake us. God bless you for sharing your stories with us. A bright spot in my day ❤️

  29. Shelton A. - May 6, 2022 2:07 pm

    God does see and loves us all. Love your neighbor (as Jesus said it, that means everyone) as yourself. Blessings and peace

  30. Shelton A. - May 6, 2022 2:10 pm

    God sees and loves us all. Love your neighbor as yourself. Blessings and peace

  31. Delesa Schumacher - May 6, 2022 2:18 pm

    Thank you for the reminder. ❤️

  32. PgP - May 6, 2022 2:22 pm

    Thank you,
    I can almost feel the sand between my toes. You give us hope and turn us back towards the light. I’m struggling as this juncture in my life and you’re words are a lifeline.
    Anyway you can post you singing amazing grace on your Instagram? It’s my very favorite ( everyone’s) I’m sure the Holy Spirit just comes right through you…God Bless you & your sweet wife. Like you bless so many.

  33. Wendy - May 6, 2022 2:50 pm

    Beautiful! Reading this was a great way to start my day!

  34. imcdbw - May 6, 2022 2:51 pm

    You know, it is rare when I don’t cry over your columns. Oft times at some place in the middle, but pretty much a guarantee at the last line, my eyes will flood and my heart will be laid bare. The Holy Spirit can then minister to my tender and contrite heart. You may not feel ordained, but Brother Sean, you sure can preach.

  35. Beth Moore - May 6, 2022 2:55 pm

    Thank you for having such a precious soul and sharing it with us each day. Thinking about you and your sweet wife (and dogs) as you settle into your new town.

  36. elliemac3 - May 6, 2022 3:27 pm

    One of your most beautiful posts yet — and that is saying a lot!! Thank you Sean Dietrich.

  37. Larry Wall - May 6, 2022 3:54 pm

    Just a brief note on this one, Sean, from this old man who reads you every day. Beautiful! And a true lesson for all, especially those who have, or does, felt alone or neglected at one time.

  38. AlaRedClayGirl - May 6, 2022 3:56 pm

    He even knows the number of hairs on our head. Now that is being noticed!

  39. Jody - May 6, 2022 3:58 pm


  40. Patricia Gibson - May 6, 2022 4:14 pm

    That was beautiful, Sean❤️ Thank you

  41. Anne Arthur - May 6, 2022 4:39 pm

    Yes, we all count in God’s eyes, even those who have doubts.
    This is a lovely story. I like the imagery and the deep meaning between your lines.

  42. Elizabeth LeDuc - May 6, 2022 5:16 pm

    No words for this except beautiful.

  43. Betty Kelly your friendly beard puller - May 6, 2022 5:45 pm

    You are wonderful Sean! Love your writings. So meaningful and true. God loves us all, sees us all, and wants us all to go to Heaven when this earthly life is over. Tell others about Jesus people and what He did for you. There’s only one way to Heaven and that is through the blood of Jesus Christ who gave His ALL on Calvary. Only Believe.

  44. Becky Souders - May 6, 2022 6:52 pm

    Thanks, Sean.

  45. Linda Moon - May 6, 2022 7:54 pm

    I just mailed a gift to an engaged couple who won’t be barefoot at their wedding. I’m barefoot right now. Aren’t newlyweds just about the happiest people on the planet! I “see” and notice you, Sean, with these #6667 Reader Glasses but am expecting an upgrade from the Eye Doctor so soon I’ll notice you even more, I hope!

  46. Marcey - May 6, 2022 7:55 pm

    Feeling alone without the man who I thought would be with me as I face cancer, I do understand the feeling of not being seen. Thank you for this message of hope that God does see me and His visit might be from a seagull.

    • Debbie - May 6, 2022 8:16 pm

      To Marcey. 🙏.

  47. MAM - May 6, 2022 8:14 pm

    God speaks to us in interesting ways. I knew when you first talked bout the seagull that it was God telling you that you and everyone is noticed by Him. But thank you for the daily reminder in your beautifully written stories, Sean!

  48. Dianne - May 6, 2022 11:49 pm

    Sean, a beautiful story to remind so many who don’t consider themselves memorable or important that we’re all important in God’s grand scheme of things. Thank you!!

  49. John blakey - May 7, 2022 4:00 am

    Wonderful !

  50. Christina - May 7, 2022 4:28 am

    You have a gift of reminding us these precious truths everyday

  51. CHARALEEN WRIGHT - May 8, 2022 1:20 am

  52. Dan - May 8, 2022 11:18 pm

    Thanks, Janice!

  53. Dale Parsons - May 9, 2022 3:28 pm

    Thank you. Again.

  54. Chasity Davis Ritter - May 12, 2022 1:19 am

    I cannot even begin to tell you how glad I’ve been that HIS eye has always been upon the sparrow.


Leave a Comment