What do Adam and Eve in Paradise, Global Climate Change, and Great Lent have in common? … Trees. And that’s how our weekend began.
Recently, the OCF at the County College of Morris, a newly chartered OCF chapter, hosted their first Pan-Orthodox OCF/Young Adult Weekend Retreat around the topic of Living in God’s Creation. The weekend was filled with fellowship, worship, learning, and stream wading.
OCFers from different areas of NJ and out of state gathered together to learn about how to live in the world as God’s Creation. Like ourselves, all of creation is sanctified by its relationship to God. Dr. Elizabeth Theokritoff, the keynote speaker and author of Living in God’s Creation: Orthodox Perspectives on Ecology, had everyone explore the depth of Creation in relationship to its Creator and challenged every student to serve other creatures, animate and inanimate, the way that Christ serves us. Dr. Elizabeth said that from every tree we are supposed to pick the same fruit: God.
In a world that is riddled by the problems of global climate change and has an increasing awareness of how we as humans are treating the earth, we were reminded that Christ calls us to “love our neighbors as ourselves,” while with the same love of neighbor we must keep in mind that what and how much we are using is impacting someone else. “Turning the lights on isn’t a sin, but our actions reflect Creation as whole,” we were reminded by Dr. Theokritoff. We are called to be stewards of Creation, to view and use the resources of the world around us in awe; as the Creation of God. Elder Aimilianos challenges us “to do every task as if preparing for Holy Communion.” The Eucharist means thanksgiving and thankfulness in everything, which is the opposite of extravagance and waste.
Next time you turn on the lights or the faucet or pick a red, ripe strawberry, offer the purposeful creation up to God and thank Him for everything we have been given to use, with a sustainable heart of offering and doxology.
Spyridoula Fotinis is a freshmen at the County College of Morris, studying International Studies. She was instrumental in starting the OCF on campus, which is flourishing and attended by people of all Faiths, even those who do not adhere to a Faith. She loves seeing the love of Christ at work on her campus and in every person around her.