As the bridge and groom paused partway down the aisle, the uploads began.
Strolling down the center aisle of the Church of God, the groom slowed his pace. In front of him, a reef of cell phones waved like sea fans in an ocean current. He paused, thinking that his new bridge was tired of being photographed. He could see, however, that she was keeping her smile.
As if upheld in prayer, the phone cameras rose even higher. They glowed aloft. Lowered, they were scrutinized by their owners, the guests at this island wedding who were keen to preserve the event and remember this couple's union.
The couple halted. While the priest found his pen for them to sign their vows, a young father wrestled playfully with his twenty-one-month-old daughter on the side aisle, attempting to have her touch down to earth for a picture, as stained glass colors danced by her on the floor by her shoes. A stunningly beautiful woman with yellow eye-liner and purple-tinted braids charged her iPhone from an outlet next to a pile of Bibles stacked on the floor.
The newlyweds exited the Church of God. They strode in to the luminous sunlight. A benediction of cell phones followed. Car doors opened. Engines started. Everyone got ready for their drive to the reception. Social media tags were quickly added.
Not a single phone rang during the holy ceremony.
On a remote island, we took our rowboat Dog Paddle and pulled our oars though teal waters, over coral formations, to land on the north side of the island. Above the high tide line, a line of pine and tamarisk trees swayed in the breeze. Walking barefoot in buttery-soft sand, we listened. Only the sounds of wavelets, and a rustle of breezes through the trees, caressed the soundscape.
Within this quiet, we heard a hiss. At the high tide line, near a hole in the sand, an eight-inch tall owl was staring. It hissed. It looked us over. The owl's feathers were mottled, it a light-colored beak and grey claws. Those eyes !
Walking the beach, there were several other owl burrows. Two owls flew from their burrows and into an area of palm trees. Then, silence and no sign of any owls. I got a sixth sense of being watched and turned to look through the trees. A pair of yellow eyes looked back. The owl was ten feet up atop of broken palm tree, watching intently with facial feathers covered with sand.
After the owl cleaned its beak with its talons, it gave a single sharp warning cry and took off through the trees. Invisibly, the bird returned to its burrow later on, when no humans were present to hear the burrowing owl.