Ponce de Leon and Me

An invitation to 'come and see.'

“Explore” comes from Latin, “to cry out.” It is the surprise and joy of discovery, the cry of Eureka! Being an explorer ties into my life metaphor of pilgrimage.

Lately, I have been exploring Venice, Florida as I begin retirement. I’ve walked, biked and done a little boating. In Punta Gorda I discovered a statue of Ponce de Leon who searched for the rumoured fountain of youth. Maybe I’m looking for that fountain too.

Pilgrim Life

Like the pilgrim life, exploring has a sense of adventure in finding the unknown, growing and developing. It can be exciting and frustrating. On the beach I’ve found sharp shells and shark’s teeth underfoot, unexpected waves and tides, rocky barriers and blocking inlets.

As I walk through the preserves in Florida, there is wilderness beauty, plants and birds unknown to me. There could be snakes, alligators, or even panthers. There are muddy paths and blockages. I take wrong turns, get lost and come to dead ends. The weather changes. I return home late. When driving, I have had flat tires and expensive gas. Amidst the complications, whether from the outside or inside, I explore. I learn.

Signs and Songs

In theory the beach and preserves have no private ownership. I encountered a fence with the “No Trespassing” sign, and the prophetic 70’s song from The 5 Man Electrical Band came to mind.

And the sign said anybody caught trespassin’ would be shot on sight
So I jumped on the fence and-a yelled at the house, “Hey! What gives you the right?”
“To put up a fence to keep me out or to keep mother nature in”
“If God was here, he’d tell you to your face, ‘Man, you’re some kinda sinner.’”

Then this stanza,

And the sign said, “Everybody welcome. Come in, kneel down and pray”
But when they passed around the plate at the end of it all, I didn’t have a penny to pay
So I got me a pen and a paper and I made up my own little sign
I said, “Thank you, Lord, for thinkin’ ’bout me. I’m alive and doin’ fine.” Wooo!

‘Come and see’ 

In John 1, when John’s disciples turned to follow Jesus, Jesus asked what they wanted. The disciples responded either naively or profoundly that they wanted to know where Jesus was staying. Jesus invites them to “come and see.” The next day one of them makes the same invitation to a doubting friend; “come and see” (Jn. 1:35-46). This is the invitation to explore. 

Maybe the opposite of an explorer is an explainer. An explainer thinks they have the answers already and find safety in that. They want to give you the answers to keep you safe. Seldom do they joyously cry out, Eureka! 

I developed the Geneva Campus Ministry tagline “A Christian exploration at UI.” In my retirement, I plan to continue exploring through these columns along with you. I invite you to “come and see.” Explore.


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