Monday, June 24, 2013

Guest Post: Feed the alligators. Just don't get arrested.

At the beginning of the summer, my best friend and soul-sister Michelle and I take a traditional Memorial Day trip to Charleston for the annual Spoleto Festival. Whenever she’s here, we like to head in that direction for a visit to Poe’s Tavern on Sullivan’s Island because of our mutual and unnatural love for Edgar Allan Poe. In addition to Poe’s, it was also on our list to see Magnolia Cemetery (I’m a Civil War buff), go to the SC State Aquarium, have lunch at Poogan’s Porch, visit Middleton Place, and watch A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Dock Street Theater.

Good to know...
Aside from the fact that the experimental Shakespearean play was nothing like what I remember from high school (experimental apparently meant “rated NC-17”), most things in the Holy City were enjoyable. We managed to deal calmly with the sign at the cemetery telling us that under state law, we could be arrested for feeding the alligators. I knew this, though I had forgotten it because it’s not really one of South Carolina’s laws that I fret over.

I’m still questioning who would want to feed them, not to mention the fact that feeding anything is generally the last thing on my mind while in cemeteries. Still, I assume the sign had to be placed there for a reason. It did come as something of an eyebrow raiser to Michelle, who is from Brooklyn, New York, where the scariest animals she has to deal with are the Subway Rats (capitalization on purpose–they have their own union).

I didn't feed him, I promise!
While Michelle wished she were back with the Subway Rats, I enjoyed the large presence of alligators at Middleton Place. I like reptiles–I keep trying to tell her that rats are merely small furry mammals, sort of like cats, but so far it hasn’t taken. Fortunately, the fact that one of her favorite shows, Army Wives, had just aired an episode filmed at Middleton, drew her attention away from the gators that seemed to appear out of nowhere.

I always expect good times in Charleston, but not always something profound. This time the profundity came, unexpectedly, from the back of a shirt on a young boy in the middle of the Charleston Market as we shopped for myriad things we didn’t need but had to have (this would include a Kilwin’s caramel apple and a Market Street Sweets praline).

Now, since returning home, I’ve looked up the quote on his shirt and found that I’m probably the last person on the planet to have heard it (which is surprising because I am a hockey fan). But the boy’s shirt read: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” From my research, it’s a Wayne Gretzsky-ism.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” I had to think about that one for a moment. It didn’t quite hit me right away the way some sayings do. The fact that it was on the back of a loud, lime green, Nike shirt may have had something to do with this; my eyes are still hurting.

How often do we take a shot only when we’re standing at the free throw line with everyone else waiting and watching until we’re done? Perhaps we only take penalty soccer kicks. Or maybe we live only in the hockey world, making our move when everyone else behind us has crashed to the ice and the goalie is looking in the other direction. Do we sit with the ball or puck in our laps, always imagining, “What if I had or hadn’t?” Are we really content to just exist? Is that what God wants from us? For us?

I think He wants more from and for us. In John 10:10, we’re told that through Jesus, we are to have life, and have it abundantly. The fullest type of life we can attain, of course, is that of one lived with Jesus in eternity. But as for the life lived with Him here, shouldn’t it also be full? We should live untainted by fear, hesitation, and restraint. Can we truly be content with a lukewarm, mediocre existence? Maybe if there’s any regret to be had, we should have it for the things we did, not the things we didn’t do.

What are YOU doing with this life He gave you? In the words of another great Nike slogan, figure it out. “Just Do It.”

Heather Eddy is Assistant Director of Christian Education here at Sardis. When she's not traipsing around Charleston feeding the alligators, she finds time to teach college courses in Anatomy and Physiology, bake cakes for staff lunches and listen to Fleetwood Mac.

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