Is it just me or does everything smell like pumpkin right now? Well, it’s Fall and that means harvest season and pumpkin spice everything (I refuse to try pumpkin spice hummus). I live in the great state of Illinois, so harvest season is a pretty big deal for us. Every other year farmers switch out corn with soybeans (one of them needs nitrogen in the soil and the other one puts it there, but I don’t know which is which).
So, sometimes in the soybean fields a few corn plants will pop up. We call them volunteer corn plants. The volunteer corn plants don’t last long. Soybeans are very low to the ground and that singular corn plant has no protection from nature (wind, storms, rain, etc.). I am always intrigued by the volunteer plants, especially the ones that stay alive and become strong.
OCF is very similar to a corn field, and we are like corn plants. As Orthodox Christians, we are the minority on campuses everywhere. We stand out. Our values and belief systems don’t match the other students around us because we recognize we are not of this world. Like the volunteer corn plants, we stand alone a lot of the time, being attacked by the unseen warfare (in the corn’s case it is the wind). Sometimes it’s easy to let the “wind” topple us over, to succumb to the world around us.
New studies have shown that farmers plant their corn fields with corn closer to each other. Why is that important? Well, the farmers plant the corn closer together so that when the wind comes, and the corn is attacked, the corn is able to stand upright because it is being surrounded by other corn, and they protect each other. When we as students are in the soybean field as volunteer corn crops, we are subject to lots of unseen warfare, and without people to support us it is easy to be overtaken.
That is why OCF is so important. It is important to establish ourselves in the cornfield with other volunteer plants. We must stay closer to each other and support each other. When I attend my OCF chapter’s meetings, I feel safe and at home. Everyone around me believes what I do, we are all volunteer corn plants.
As I said earlier, some volunteer corn plants survive all by themselves, but it is rare that they can withstand nature’s torments. Just because it is possible does not mean it’s easy. That’s why I encourage all of you to be a part of OCF, attend services at your nearest church, and find other Orthodox Christians around you, I promise you there is at least one other Orthodox student on campus, or one you can call to feel connected. If you are exploring the OCF page and happened to stumble upon this looking for a sign to join your local OCF chapter than this is it. Look at the chapter finder, reach out to surrounding OCFs and our Student Leadership Board. Having each other makes life on campus a little bit easier. So, join OCF. Be in a loving environment with people who are like you. You still may be a volunteer crop, but at least you have others holding you up. As it says in Isaiah, “For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations,” (Isaiah 61:11 RSV).
I encourage you to find your corn field and Orthodox support system. Know that the Lord has called you to be His volunteer crop to “spring up before all the nations” to show “righteousness and praise”. OCF is such an amazing ministry to be a part of, so join it. Be a volunteer crop that has other corn to help it stand upright.
I am Evyenia Pyle. I am freshman at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. I am majoring in Speech and Hearing Sciences with double concentrations in neuroscience of communication and speech-language pathology. This year I am the Central Illinois District Student Leader! I love to sing, especially byzantine chant. I play a lot of instruments including guitar, bass, piano, and more. I have two amazing dogs, they are my pride and joy. I am so excited to be contributing to the OCF blogs this year!