WANDER | WILMINGTON, NC

leah gray wilmington nc_0012_04970001 leah gray wilmington nc_0005_04970010 leah gray wilmington nc_0011_04970004Be strong, be courageous. The words God said to Joshua and the Israelites as they trekked down to the Promised Land, crossed the dried up Jordan river, and came to the city of Jericho. Also the words that I tell myself every time I get on my bike to ride through the crazy motor vehicle filled streets of downtown Nashville. These same words always ring through my head as I go past the point of being able to touch, to a place where Iโ€™m quite literally swept off of my feet into the rolling waves.ย A couple of weeks ago we drove all night to the little beach town of Wilmington, NC. We pulled up to a new friend's house, drug our sluggish selves across a bridge, stuck our feet in the sand, and watched as the cloudy sky gave way to some sun. It was surreal: partially due to the lack of sleep, but mostly because the sun and the sea always take my breath away. But this trip in particular was special.leah gray wilmington nc_0015_Background leah gray wilmington nc_0014_04450023 leah gray wilmington nc_0013_04450024 leah gray wilmington nc_0008_04970007leah gray wilmington nc_0009_04970006Two of our closest friends, whom weโ€™ve come to know and love over a short amount of time, are from these parts, so we were instantly welcomed by a group of tightly knit friends. I felt as if I had walked into a happy family reunion, only to be embraced as one of the members. We were all so excited that we caught maybe ten minutes of sleep, drank our coffees, and headed out to the waves. Due to the storm that had passed hours before we arrived, the waves were good, and the surfers were plenty. We sat and swam and slept in the sun.leah gray wilmington nc_0007_04970008 leah gray wilmington nc_0006_04970009 leah gray wilmington nc_0004_04970014The afternoon rolled around and we drove over to a boat dock, hopped in a speedy boat, and rode off to a vacant island. My jaw dropped off. We were totally surrounded by new friends, a pup, food, surfboards, sand, and the sea - dreams were coming true and despite the lack of sleep I pressed on and pulled out my camera.leah gray wilmington nc_0002_04970020The last time everyone jumped in the water, I ventured a little further and let my feet float away from the bed of sand. I dove under waves and opened my eyes to see the ripples from the crash. I felt the words, โ€œbe strong, be courageous,โ€ rush through me. Iโ€™m scared of deep water and strong currents, but no fear will ever stop me from feeling how I felt under those waves. They are powerful and eye opening. Itโ€™s a feeling of being held while still being free to move. It is a strong presence, it is a Godly presence โ€“ one that should be felt by all humans, whether that be under the waves, during a time of creativity, or just with loved ones around a dinner table. He's there.leah gray wilmington nc_0002_Background leah gray wilmington nc_0003_04970017leah gray wilmington nc_0000_04970021 leah gray wilmington nc_0001_04970019We ended our island living by stumbling upon an awesome washed up sailboat. We pretended to live on it, steer it, got a little sea sick, and picked through the cabin. I was convinced I could live the sailboat, nomadic life, perhaps tapping into my courage a little too much. But hey, it's possible, butย help would be necessary and abundant. These were some of my favorite pictures from the whole trip. The faces of my friends, my people. I will cherish these memories forever.leah gray wilmington nc_0001_04970022 leah gray wilmington nc_0000_04970023Be strong and be courageous, everyone. Film photos byย Leah (and Eric).