Eco-Steward Gerard Miller studied modern languages, linguistics and intercultural communication at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. He is working this summer as an intern at Greenwood Farm in Hardin, Montana. Here he reflects on a day from our June Eco-Stewards Program.
Looking back on our week of active learning in Eastern Montana, the one thing that comes to mind as a theme, or overarching idea, is the voice. All week, we sat or stood in conversation with one another, sharing our ideas of God and the world and lending our personal insights to each other’s queries and assertions. This was most true on Saturday, our second day at Greenwood Farm in Hardin. We had gone to sleep the night before under a clear, star-strewn sky like nothing I’d ever seen. Gathered around the campfire, we’d lifted our voices in song, submitting our favorites as requests to be sung by the group. The songs we chose told something about each of us, and about what we thought of the group. It was a great time for fellowship, with any lingering nervousness or anxiety covered by the inky blackness that surrounded the dancing flames.
Earlier that day, we had started our morning with prayer and a song, both of which served to unite us and lend a sense of purpose to our work for the day. After breakfast, a group of Eco-Stewards went to offer their hands and strong backs to Dave Graber in setting the foundation for the earthship outbuilding at Greenwood Farm. Others hung around inside the farmhouse for an impromptu jam session around the Grabers’ piano. With guitars, piano, harmonicas, and our humble and wonderful human voices, we continued to weave together a common narrative and to unify our voices.
As a choir director and musician, I really appreciated the spirit of cooperation, of koinonia (the Greek word for Christian fellowship or communion), that came to the fore as we sang. This was helped along later that afternoon, after Heather arrived and led us through the writing and sharing of our “ecofaith journeys.” The idea was to reflect on those influences which had led us to the spiritual and ecological place that we find ourselves in today. Whereas our songs had told something of our personal and corporate stories, these stories and the way one flowed into the next created a fluid, lyrical song. It was a beautiful time of sharing in the true spirit of God’s message to His people and Jesus’ example. Having broken bread, we gave up our voices to a chorus, singing His praise, reflecting on His works, and seeking deeper purpose in our own walks.