Spending 8 days playing hooky on a British island isn't usually what you'll find on 'Top 10 Places to Travel This Summer', but boy it's the stuff of dreams, let me tell you. Before shooting Jon + Vicki's wedding on the weekend, our days were filled with the most delightful stuff imagined. One morning, Jon (honorable groom and fabulous island host) popped over to his sister Jen's house (where we stayed) early and made us authentic English breakfast - holy moly the British know what they're about when it comes to breakfast (traveler's note: if you haven't had thick cut bacon you are missing out on one of God's greatest gifts)! He took both Liz and I into the town of Douglas for the day to caffeinate, peruse side stores and florist shops (I bought one of my favorite dresses in a tiny T.K. Maxx...yes, T.K... :) ), people watch, and avoid getting run over.
Several days into your stay on the Isle of Man, you'll start to feel some tiny roots inside of you planting into the ground, the cliffs, the roar and whirr of sea and gulls. I think it's something about the island air, the quiet, frankness of living and laughing and just being. It's a powerful thing to feel no pressure other than to be. Here in the states (or maybe just the city?...I make wide assumptions when my speculation cap is on) sometimes there is a strange layer of pressure, expectation, to do, do, do, create, create, create, progress, progress, make something of yourself, hurry, hurry. I feel it weigh against my chest, a flimsy film, but so heavy. On the island, it is none. No place to be, career to chase, butt to kick, American career-chasing frenzy to embody.
Don't get me wrong, I love to hustle, to fight, to break barriers, fire-cracker off a spring-board and plunge headlong into icy water. But there's something about taking a breath once in awhile from hustling. Wake, take in the sun and the bright, deep blue of ocean crashing on land outside your window. Wash a dish, or leave it in the sink. Buy a dress, take a wrong turn, stand on a street corner, squint at the sun. Every piece, a breath of grateful solace.
Just a trot-walk down from Jen & Mark's house was a lovely cliff-side ocean view that Liz & I walked down to almost every evening - listen to the sunset, see the waves and feel the gulls crying through our bones. Our first night we discovered it we nearly got washed away by high tide and laughed and gasped and scrambled and scraped knees racing back up to higher ground. And then, glory what an evening, how long the light held grips with the sky, how my heart pounded in my chest as Wonder by Amanda Cook rang in my ears and Jesus filled that eternity of other-worldly reality.
Two days before the wedding, Jon and his best man Simon took us to the Sound & Calf of Man, a stunning view on the southern-most tip of the island. Jon and Simon wrote their wedding speeches for the big day, while Liz and I snapped a bajillion photos and watched seals that swam by and gave us funny looks and I slipped on seaweed and bruised an elbow and my favorite lens and we looked like a bunch of idiots, but how glad I am for idiocy and busting-laughter and seals.
Jon & Vicki opted to have their rehearsal 2 days before the wedding and save the day before to relax, breathe, and enjoy a good 24 hours of rest. We took a picnic down to the shore and barbecued and blew the wind in our faces and threw rocks into the sea. Jon and Vicki would be joining hands and hearts in the nearly a few hours and all was setting into place - dinner on the beach with friends, dreaming of tomorrow. This is the moment they'd remember on the cusp of the rest of their lives.