While growing up in a multicultural home—Italian father and Romanian mother—and living most of my childhood in Germany, I had many thoughts that probably many first-generation immigrants to a new country have, that we are somehow misplaced and not accepted as others are. I feel blessed that my parents did not talk negatively about their experiences, thus imparting to me the sense that I am safe and taken care of. But both had to work very hard, sometimes at two jobs or double shifts, in order to pay the bills that provided that safety net for my siblings and me.
My parents’ work was always within the food-service industry. For them it was not just a job but a career they embraced with all the energy they had, in their youth as well as into older age. They learned mainly by experience and adapting to the needs of their customers—as apprentices and observers, as waiters and bartenders, and as cooks. Later, as restaurant and café owners and then as importers of simple ingredients from Italy and teachers about cultural food traditions, they incorporated the dishes and ingredients of their adopted home in Germany with the traditional foods from the cultures in which they each had grown up.
We traveled many times a year back and forth to my father’s homeland in Tuscany, Italy to breathe in the air and enjoy the people and the culture of food. With my father I went to meet the producers of wine, cheese, vegetables, spices, fresh and cured meat, fowl and fish. There were the simple farmer families and the big owners of world-renowned products like Parmesan cheese and Chianti wine. I became an observer of people—the poor and the rich, the impassioned and the proud—and their relationship with food.
As my father became an expert and consultant during my teenage years, I realized that he was training me to follow in his footsteps. He was never sure if I would embrace it like he did, and he never tried to convince me. He just kept on showing me the trade skills and shared his wisdom. In a way, I was in school, with my apprenticeship starting in our home kitchen with the food we cooked and ate there.
I was raised as a young child in the streets and neighborhoods of a poor Italian industrial city where fishermen and steelworkers met at the wharf early in the mornings to trade shifts. My 4’10” grandmother “Nonna” walked most mornings with us kids to the fish market, and then stopped by the baker, the butcher, the farmers’ market, and so on, carrying the many bags up the big stone stairs to the fourth floor. As kids we helped her as much as we could carry, and it was always a tough exhausting trek.
After acquiring the ingredients from her trek for food, Nonna would start cooking, often throughout the whole day, preparing for meals that would be served many days ahead. She was a good host, and Italian family dinners can include many relatives and friends—one never knows who might show up. She was ready, and with her small but sturdy body she filled the room with her presence of enjoying life in its simplicity.
Growing up in a culture that was centered around food, family, and hard work, we never complained about any hardship, for we understood that life was not necessarily easy but had its good times too. Every dinner was an event, and when my grandfather “Nonno” came home from his shift as a steelworker building huge cargo ships, he never talked about work but wanted to enjoy the food served. He did not seem to be a happy, cheerful man, but I have many memories of him really enjoying dinner after a hard day’s labor.
I think that the preparation for me attaining my destiny started the day I was born and that God’s hand has been present in my entire life. In my rebellious teenage years, I almost missed my destiny when I chose to disconnect from my sense of higher calling and willfully chose my “own” course, without the consideration of others and my deeper, more idealistic desires.
I had worked in the kitchens and as a waiter in many Italian restaurants, but I was searching for something else, though I was not sure what that might be. I increasingly grew dissatisfied with how I was living my life, noticing how much greed took over people’s lives. I could feel the tantalizing pull of the consumer-driven model that was advertised everywhere, but I was also very unhappy with how corporate-owned supermarkets were replacing many small, family-owned grocery stores.
I noticed that more people were giving up their cultural food practices for fast, packaged meals. They did not call it fast food then, it just became a way of eating quicker meals and, unfortunately, with less quality. I also realized that my parents were worn out physically and emotionally. The twelve years of owning restaurants and serving hundreds of people daily from morning until hours after midnight took its toll. In my heart I told myself I would not choose the same career in the food business.
For about a year after I left high school, I took jobs wherever I could. I thought that I wanted to become a nurse practitioner or work in some field of health and well-being. I was rejected at many schools for various reasons, including the military, which I tried to join. I became desperate to find a vocation that would fill my heart and mind, and, in the spirit of the moment, when a three-year apprenticeship as a stonemason and sculptor opened up, I took it.
My parents were very disappointed when I told them that I chose manual hard labor as my new career. I stayed on and later learned the art of stone restoration. I worked on many churches, chapels, castles, thousand-year-old estates, and so on. But even when I became successful at a young age and received good pay, travelling the country, I never felt fulfilled. The next stage was set to partner with others to open our own business of stonemasonry and restoration.
Then a “suddenly” experience changed the course of my life. In the middle of the night I had the strongest impression in my mind that I should give up my “career” and travel to the United States of America, a place that I never dreamed of going. I was in shock that such a message filled my mind, but I felt for the very first time a conviction that I should follow through with this “leading,” and so I did.
Fast-forwarding six years, in the United States I had joined an intentional small community of a dozen adults and a few children in the mountains of Northern California where I learned and then taught self-sufficient living. We grew most of our own food and canned, pickled, and dried vegetables, grains, and meat. We also tanned deer and elk hides for clothing, chopped firewood, and lived with very little solar-powered electricity, just enough to have some light and some music, and for one stone grinder for our grains. The closest village of thirty-five inhabitants was twenty-five miles away, and the closest town took three hours to travel one-hundred miles on steep mountain roads. To get to the nearest road we had to walk in the winter twelve miles in the snow and two miles in the summer, first crossing the river with a canoe. As you can imagine, I had become a mountain man.
However, my passion at that time was learning about the culture of Native American Indians and their spirituality, and I had found great mentors from several tribes. I identified so much with them that many accepted me as one of their own and allowed me to pray, sing, and dance with them in their most sacred ceremonies. In all of my prayers, I asked the Creator of all to reveal more of my destiny to me, for I still felt there was more that I was being “called” to do, even though I lived in a small paradise in the mountains with lots of wilderness still intact—a safe place for a troubled future that I was sure the world would experience.
Then another “suddenly” called me, along with my wife and child, away from our hide-away safe-haven home. It was very clear in our hearts and minds that we needed to find our greater destiny somewhere else, and we travelled thousands of miles in a small cheap pickup truck with a handmade, wagon-style caboose on the back in which to cook, eat, and sleep. So, for a time we lived a nomadic lifestyle, visiting people we knew or heard of, looking for the next stop in our search for meaningful destiny.
After three long months of traveling and seeking, we found Global Community Communications Alliance in Arizona. The vision of a prototype sustainable and service-based lifestyle of the Founders, Gabriel of Urantia and Niánn Emerson Chase, was so big—and within a spiritual-based life purpose—that I knew I could find my peace there and with them. It was a recognition that I had finally “come home.”
Though I had a sense of destiny purpose early on in my life, I got sidetracked for a while in my search for my true vocation, almost missing meeting my destiny. But I found my way back when I began to adhere to the leadings provided by the Creator. I chose values that were spiritually-based, thus more healthy and sustainable for all of us on this earth. I developed a good work ethic and learned many skills. I learned to grow food, take care of the land, and live simply in intentional community.
“Our own destiny, whether as individuals or as a species, and the destiny of Earth are identical. What we do to Earth, we do to our Self.”
— Michael Dowd
All of this preparation before I became part of Global Communications Alliance enabled me to become an essential part of the structure of Avalon Organic Gardens & EcoVillage where, for many years I planned and oversaw the production and distribution of organic food for our family of 120+ community members and numerous visitors as well as for farmers’ markets, restaurants, and many local events. With the evolution of Avalon Gardens as the campus of the University of Ascension Science and the Physics of Rebellion (UASPR), our emphasis has moved away from food production and is now focused on educating others in the art of agriculture. I am now an instructor at the UASPR where I teach aspiring agriculturalists to implement many old and new systems of regenerative farming, with climate change in mind.
Though at the time I did not realize it, growing up with great teachers within the food culture was part of my destiny. More and more I realize that food can be an essential element that unites all people on this planet. Even greater than the physical reality of growing food is the joy I have found in teaching and training others, empowering them with the gift of planting seeds and seeing the miracle of life unfold, in order to feed themselves and others with organic nontoxic food.
I am grateful to my grandmothers—Nonna from my father’s Italian side and Oma Maria from my mother’s side, who was a war refugee of WW II from Romania. There are so many memories of Oma Maria cooking a simple meal over a small stove. One of my favorite dishes was Mamaliga, which is a Romanian style polenta of ground corn cooked in milk until creamy and stiff with a little bit of sugar. We all could not help but smile with pleasure when eating this dish—pure simplicity and spiritual joy of family. And isn’t it interesting that corn came from the indigenous people of the Americas (whose culture and spirituality I so loved) and was brought to Europe? It is another full circle manifesting before me, because at one time we grew heritage corn that was grown hundreds of years ago in this desert area, which was eventually adapted and introduced in Europe.
Hope in a better future for our children and grandchildren can be found in planting seeds, and when you include a revelatory message of a true Spiritualution movement—uniting the world through a spiritual revolution and change in consciousness, thereby living as planetary citizens—then a whole planet can unite and find its destiny living in the brotherhood/sisterhood of humankind, realizing the same Creator God as our Father-Mother of All—which so many prophets have spoken of for thousands of years.
Serving as an Elder, Human-rights Minister, and Counselor in Global Community Communications Alliance and a teacher in the University of Ascension Science and the Physics of Rebellion, I also am planting seeds of encouragement for others to unfold into their expanded consciousness and embracement of higher values, which will lead them to find their own higher destinies that are in some manner aligned to bringing this planet into its destiny of peace, well-being, and justice for all.
Several years ago I had some physical setbacks and on the road to recovery, I passed on my responsibilities to a young gifted farmer who had arrived a few years prior and already was a trained organic gardener. With his computer and technical skills, this young farm administrator was able to upgrade the planning and management systems for our university’s agricultural educational program. His intelligence, spiritual maturity, and youthful enthusiasm inspired the whole community to participate weekly in planting, harvesting, and preserving food. I am glad that his destiny is becoming more actualized here, and not only in agricultural education, which he has a passion for, but also as a brilliant musician who is in two bands and directs the orchestra for TaliasVan’s Bright and Morning Star Choir.
From the time I was a youth, I yearned to be a part of the healing profession, living with a sense of having been a human-rights minister to the sick and dying in many lifetimes. As with all the aspects of living in this Divine New Order Community, I feel that my current work as a Spiritual Care and Bereavement Coordinator in our own Soulistic Hospice (which serves hundreds of patients and their families and friends) is another step in my own destiny fulfillment in another area of life. Sometimes my patients have been farmers themselves, and so we share stories of what farming and gardening meant to us, which gives the patients, near the end of their lives, a sense of fulfilled purpose.
Meaningfulness happens when an event or experience in conscious life puts us in contact with unconscious forces that lead us to a fulfillment of our destiny.
– David Richo, author of Coincidence - How Life Shows Us What We Need To Know
Another amazing manifestation of God’s hands in all of our lives is how my own children share my passion for nutritional food. My two teenage daughters just completed a six-month agricultural educational program. My son, who is in his mid-twenties, had similar training for many years, becoming an ambassador for the Local Food Movement. He has participated in workshops, attended conferences and other alliance-building events, conducted garden tours, and set up and hosted the booths for many public events and farmers markets. As a teen, he was featured through the “WHY Hunger” organization (out of New York) as a young aspiring farmer in the alliance “Somos La Semilla”(We are the Seed).
My son was trained by various chefs to become one himself. He prepared plant-based organic meals in our Food for Ascension Café when it was open. He now cooks tasty meals in our community kitchen and bakes bread from locally-grown heritage wheat in an outdoor, wood-burning oven (which he helped build). He is accomplished in his craft and is truly a fathers’ son as I was trained by my father.
Besides the learning of these skills, what inspires me most is that my three children, and so many other children and adults in our community, have developed this sense of destiny as teachers and mentors for a better future. They live full lives without the fears of not being able to fit in this world and actually feel they are part of the solution and hope for the future.
I am convicted more than ever that God leads us, in many ways, to our destiny, if we just listen and choose with Him, one right choice at a time. In my own walk on my destiny path, I had lots of help on the way. For a short period of time in my older teen years I tried to be a revolutionary in my own willful way, which could have led down a very pain-filled path of self-seeking gratification that would lead basically nowhere. But I veered off of that detour in time to get back onto the path of preparation for meeting my highest calling in this life.
I now understand the significance of these words in the song “Cosmic Brides” by TaliasVan:
All the swords of the young brave knights dressed in shining armor could not change the world as much as one seed of the farmer…