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Walt Lawrence was (and is) a handsome, personable, motivated, athletically gifted Canadian. But in one adolescent instant, his dreams of a hockey career dissolved and his life was drastically changed when a diving accident left him quadriplegic. For many years, Walt did not want to live and deeply questioned the Christian faith of his childhood. It was one of those tragedies that immediately sparks the haunting question: “How does a good God let such awful things happen?” Walt grieved this query in his unconscious mind.
That was many years ago, and Walt has been on a pilgrimage ever since that has transformed this tragedy into an affirmation of life. Walt is disabled and cannot use his limbs. Yet this remarkable man is making a difference in the world. And because of this Carey Theological College bestowed on him a Doctor of Divinity (Honoris Causa) degree at our 2013 convocation to the great celebration of many friends and faculty members.
I met Walter at church over 25 years ago as he pirouetted around the sanctuary in his motor-driven wheel chair, hands firmly velcroed to the armrests, his coffee sitting close to his direction straws that pointed him where he intended. He enrolled in a 2-year counsellor training program that I led and I watched as he masterfully engineered the most attractive women to get his coffee and adjust the cusions of his chair.
And I had the privilege of leading Walt and Wendy in their wedding where Walt asked me to place the ring on Wendy’s finger for him. The Lawrences have been married for 20+ years and have 2 spectacular teenaged girls. As well as being a mom, Wendy is a nurse and Walt is peer counsellor at G.F Strong Rehabilitation Centre in Vancouver when not fathering.
Working alongside lots of medical specialists, Walt Lawrence is now Dr. Walter Lawrence.