A Warm Hello in Iceland

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about
with so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us lay aside every weight,
and the sin which doth so easily beset us,
and let us run with patience
the race that is set before us. . . .

— Hebrews 12:1


The wedding was saturated in loving touches from family and friends from near and far. The bride wore jewelry from both grandmothers, including one who had just passed away and had dearly wanted to be there. In the special pins on the bouquet and the lustrous pearl bracelet on the bride’s wrist, she was.


The bride and groom wanted antique wood for the head table, so a 12-foot fabric runner was made out of beaded lace from the train of the bride’s mother’s wedding gown and veil.


Of course the bride’s great-grandfather’s red 1948 Farm-All Cub tractor served as the welcome wagon. Maudie symbolizes that side of our family. It was really touching to see the bride and groom’s friends from grade school, high school, college and beyond crawl on her and pose for pictures – a blending of family and friends for this great event.


The bride’s mother’s cousin made the seven adorable wooden benches out of headboards she scrounged at farm sales, and they served as unique and charming seating for the outdoor reception.


At the last minute, the bride realized she didn’t have a handkerchief, although she had promised the groom she would have one, since they both thought they would cry. A Kleenex wouldn’t do; might mess up the makeup. Presto! The bride’s grandmother opened her purse, in which she had not one but two handkerchiefs, and gave the one with the giant embroidered “T” to the bride. This made everyone smile and sigh, as the “T” stands for “Tillie.” That beloved great-grandmother was everybody’s favorite — a person the bride resembles, well, to a “T.”


One sister organized the quilt pieces that would serve as the guestbook. Another made a darling fabric garland and string of tin cans, and wrote “just married” on the back of the getaway car. The third sister lovingly fashioned the ribbons from the bridal showers into a bouquet for the rehearsal.


The groom’s family got into the act, transporting their side of the family’s traditional ball and chain for a dancing game to rival the fun of the dollar dance for the bride.


The aunts served as hostesses and made sure everybody had a good time. The uncles directed parking. A swan basket that the bride’s grandfather had cussed all the way home from a trip to Mexico, but of course dearly loved, served as the gift basket. The favors were little jars of sweet jam – strawberry and black raspberry – from berries grown by the bride’s mother, cooked and canned. They were topped off with colorful fabric circles and butcher’s twine by the bride’s long-suffering but super-crafty grandmother and her church buddies.


The family friends brainstormed and loaned things and commiserated and supported. A neighbor mentioned how, whenever she would drive by our house during the bride’s younger years, the bride and her dad would be out in the yard throwing a softball, and dad and daughter were constantly out of town at softball tournaments. That neighbor concluded that that girl was going to make someone a very good wife, someday, because a girl whose father invests a lot of time and love into her life is going to be a girl glowing with love for, and trust in, men.


So they were surrounded by familiar faces, wishes and memorabilia from loved ones. These familiar people virtually surfed them into matrimony, and onward to what everyone hoped would be a long and happy married life.


But for the honeymoon, they chose the unfamiliar, exotic and unexpected: Iceland!


It was so different from any place they had ever been before! The hot springs! The furry ponies! Sea kayaking. Snorkeling. Sightseeing. Hiking. Unusual foods. They tried to speak Icelandic. They loved their immersion into that unique island’s extremely foreign culture.


One day, they were in a small hotel in the small town of Vik, which is about as different from the U.S.A. as can be. Another tourist at the hotel was wearing a shirt from the University of Michigan. The groom is a Michigan native and a fan of that football team. Of all places! So naturally, he approached the man. They visited.


The man’s travel companions were from Michigan, too. They came over to chat.


It turns out that the woman he met there is a co-worker of the groom’s aunt at an auto auction in Michigan!


The wife had talked with the aunt about “the wedding in Omaha.” But she had no idea that SHE would wind up on the honeymoon itinerary!


What are the odds?!?


It’s a small world. Ain’t it great?


That’s what the Bible means about living your life with “a great cloud of witnesses.” That means the ones who’ve gone before us into glory. The ones who only catch a glimpse of us from time to time. The ones we spend the most time with and are the most dear to our hearts. And so many others. They are the “witnesses” to our lives, cheering us on, wishing us the best, wanting to share in our joys, and sorrows, too.


Just as this wedding blended two families forever, it wove together lots of friends and co-workers and neighbors and others. All of them are on record now of exhorting these two to live up to their vows. And live on, in the light of Christ.


That’s our God: He goes to the ends of the earth to let You know He is with you, even there, and to bring witnesses to true love wherever you may go! †

By Susan Darst Williams | www.RadiantBeams.org | Travel | © 2020