I do not have the time.
I have a major test next Friday over a knot of material that I still haven’t untangled, I need to pack so that I can move out of my apartment in three weeks, and I haven’t finished the project that I am supposed to present to an audience on Thursday. I am far too busy; yet, I still find myself crunching down the gravel drive to Camp Nazareth on a sunny afternoon for the OCF Pittsburgh District Event. As soon as we drive past the cross-bearing domes, I know that I have made the right decision. Where it stands at the heart of camp, the chapel forces me to reexamine what it is that I hold at the heart of my life. It is an indisputable reminder that my every thought should not be centered on myself.
It always surprises me that this camp, two hours away from my actual house, feels so much like home. That night, I look around the campfire and realize that the students here may not know each other’s names—but we talk about our lives and our favorite movies and our plans for the future like we have been at this camp together for weeks instead of hours. OCF has always been that way in my mind. It is impossible to call someone a stranger when you both know, from the moment you meet, that you are family in Christ.
After services and breakfast the next morning, we circle up and Father Loposky leads a discussion about living our faith. He asks us about the time we spend in school working towards a diploma— as well as the time we spend in our busy days working towards a different, far more important sort of qualification. The key to sharing our faith is taking the time to see God in our own lives, he tells us. I know by the stories that are then volunteered in the circle that we will all leave this weekend with that lesson firmly imprinted in our minds and hearts. For our service project, we tackle the hiking trails armed with rakes and enthusiasm, but it isn’t long before we learn the difference between “fit” and “camp-fit;” in summary, only one involves the stamina to rake trails through the woods for a full morning. When we reach the waterfalls, we take a break to climb rocky ledges and to take turns skipping flat stones across pools of sparkling, clear water.
When I leave later today, I will return to an evening of sleep-deprived studying and stress. Right now though, that world is far away, and the undeniable evidence of something far more beautiful surrounds me. In this place, with these brothers and sisters surrounding me, I can feel the presence of God. Where I stand now, I feel like I have all the time in the world.
Ileana Horattas is a second-year student at the Northeast Ohio Medical University. She is a proud adoptive member of the Akron OCF chapter, as well as a member of the Akron Annunciation Greek Orthodox parish.