Oikonomia (also spelled oikonomeia, economia or economy) literally means “household management,” the “law of the house,” or “house building,” and refers primarily to two related concepts in the Orthodox Church — the divine plan for man’s salvation and the specific episcopal application of the canons in the life of the Church. The latter usage is a derivation of the former.

Oikonomia is one of two ways of observing the Canons of the Church, the other is Akriveia or strict adherence (precision, exactness). Whereas the application of Oikonomia is generally regarded as being a more flexible application or interpretation of the Canons, the application of Akriveia is regarded as being a more precise and strict one. Pastoral Discretion is of key importance in either application.

— Orthodox Wiki


Oikonomia, illustration by E. Sablina.

Oikonomia, illustration by E. Sablina.

When we began studying children’s architectural environment, the first question we asked ourselves was “how childhood is associated with architecture?”

Even a superficial look brings the thought that the formation of a human is directly associated with progressive growth at home. For example, any construction site needs an architectural supervision. And what about a child? But what about the person, what a child can do without leadership? It is said: “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain,” (Psalm 127:1).Which house is that? It is the house of the soul, the inner house. A man is a temple of the living God (“for ye are the temple of the living God”, 2 Corinthians, chapter 6:16). It is obvious, that the construction of such importance cannot do without a leader, without the One, Whose name should be put as the cornerstone, in the firm basement of the House.

The relationship between internal and external seems obvious, but how to project the laws of developing of the little man on the real architecture?

Pehaps we should use a method of experimental observation (like how to choose the perfect profile of an airplane wing), which is taken as a basis for actually existing laws in nature. And then here is the answer to the question on children architectural environment: “I think I would design that way.” First walk on a salty agile sea shore. Imagined that the frost has struck. So suddenly, that I had found the ice of the frozen salty coastal waves in my hands. Then I would have looked into it. And then would have found an endless movement in one frozen cubic meter. This is how the intention becomes a form. The eternal mystery.

So whether I would have found air bubbles there, which hadn’t got to the top, or a web of dandelion-like seaweed, or a golden caviar, or a shell of a reckless cancer — all that would have been the life of the sea, which I would have got so suddenly and barbarically well. And if I could, I would have created a plant of good thoughts. I would have pressed pause in the moment, when some children would have been laughing, others would hav been willing someting very much, and some being still, some just having intention for someting, and others sacrificing. By the way, it would have been on a cornflower meadow. All the most ridiculous things are happen there. For example, the way I rake up in one sack the air vibrations of laughter, the golden aspiration and the invaluable sacrifice. They take form in the moment I notice them. They are my building materials. And so, all of a sudden, there was a stagnation of thought, and if, in the end, if this crystallization could happen to the sea, why could it not happen to the children’s glee? And here I got the only natural children’s habitat…”

Here reader has the right to argue that it is not a methodology, but metaphysics. And he will be right. Until we ask him about the most uncertain matter — about the matter of space (as it is the category of environment, children environment in particular), which is fully operated by the architect. Space is what he lives with. It is his daily bread. But what is it? Maybe it is a light for an architect. What is it for a child? And where it originates in this case?

The space was created by the Word: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:1,2)

Moving, warming the abyss from which blooms Universe with its warmth. The uterine darkness, shining colours, blinds more than physical light (and here there is more space than the light). A person (a child) comes to the world from this darkness. From mother’s womb. It is a lightless space. A light not as a physical quantity. The space is a grace. It is an action of the Holy Spirit, of Lord’s personality.
But how to describe the grace?

There is an unwritten saying of Jesus Christ — an agrafa: “He who is near me is near the fire; he who is far from me, is far from the kingdom.”

“Here is the border near the infinite flame of God, where a person stands and trembles before His glory. And is afraid of losing him, and is afraid that this glory would scorch and burn him” — father Daniil Sysoev.
And here it is — the only thing, in fact, that teaches people how to live: The Fire of the Holy Spirit. Scorching and burning alive those who hate God, hate good and truth, and washing, softly cleansing and treating those who trembles God and pursue him with all their being.

It is no coincidence that this very strong image is present in all children Russian folk tales (the fire burning and healing). Only because it is real.

Oikonomia, illustration by E. Sablina.

Oikonomia, illustration by E. Sablina.

And now, when it is clear that any creation, any process of creation (whether material or spiritual) is carried out by the action of grace, we understand that there is one Architect and Inspirer of this amazing building: the Lord. In other words, the problem of projecting the inner life on real architecture is reduced to one: how much architect is ready to forget himself for the sake of Truth, how much he is ready to flat out, become a thin, hard as a diamond, transparent as a dew, a lense, so that the Unfading Light of Christ could light all the created things in the material world, “lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John, 1:9).

Then how a space created this way would affect the unique personality of a little man? Can it make him search for the Truth, can it light his heart with a thirst for Him. No. Because the gift of free will is a great gift. But it can as well tease, stir up, affecting the heart and mental strength through the external senses, and gently give a choice. What is that choice for? In order the child is not deprived of the sweetest thing on earth — the search for Truth, thirst for Truth. In other words, of the communion with God.
And if you design this way, the incomprehensible greatness of poverty will form the space, so there is no room in the whole universe left for indifference.

From Anastasis “Faith”.