The First Clue
One day, when I was a fairly young woman, I was in an elevator in a public building going down to the ground floor. I’d always had a sense of destiny and for a while I’d been wondering if I had any special gifts, but I wasn’t thinking about it at that moment. In the elevator was a middle-aged man in a tan raincoat. He had his back to me. I suddenly had the sense that he was different. He had a very compassionate and benign presence. And then, as I thought about him, I seemed to receive a crystal clear thought message from him. First, I was shown an area where I was less “special” than I thought I was, and then an unusual gift that I hadn’t yet realized was revealed to me, and in recognizing it I saw how it could be used for the good of others. Although it seemed timeless, this experience all happened between one floor and the next. It impacted me deeply. He moved out of the elevator ahead of me. I wanted to have a closer look at him, but by the time I stepped out about five seconds later, he had entirely disappeared. Who was he? I will never know. But the experience was very real.
I’ve gradually come to recognize the truth of the whole message I received. I was being shown an important part of my “right destiny”. And I was also being instructed that it carried responsibility.
Defining the Treasure
What is right destiny? Is it something that we pursue like a vision of things-to-be, or does it pursue us, like some medieval figure of fate always trying to catch up with us? It seems that when we’re imbued with a strong passion for some type of creativity or service, we’re blessed with a real aptitude to do it, and then we’re haunted with a feeling that this must be part of our destiny. Sometimes we just dabble around with our gift, but this is different from self-disciplined practice. “Discipline”—deriving from the word “disciple”—requires much commitment and dedication. For example, so many “would-be” great artists never achieve their potential because they just don’t put in the practice. And if we are going to become great artists with our actual lives we have to practice over and over. And that includes not just what we make of our talents, but how we’re motivated to live our moments, so that our smaller actions also contribute to the good of the whole. When we hold still in the moment, drop our immediate agenda, then tune in to divine direction and act on it, right destiny “happens” to us. And, ideally, that happening is a fairly continual one so that we gradually grow into the shape of who we really are behind all the facades and false beginnings.
Of course, we make many blunders along the way, but we can create stepping stones from both our good and bad experiences if we can perceive what we need to learn from them and don’t get too addicted to habit and circumstance. And we can practice, practice, practice!
My own blunders and stepping-stones have eventually led me to the spot on this planet where I now live—Global Community Communications Alliance—a nucleus of hope and light and life for the whole planet. Here, I can thrive and unfold my true destiny so much more effectively. The thread of my story, and how I learned from my very varied career, goes like this . . .
As a depressed teenager in a repressive boarding school, I discovered my ability to act through a series of school plays. This was a gleam of light in an otherwise dark environment. Learning that our school secretary had once attended a drama school in London, it settled my question as to whether I should train for drama, music, or social service. I thought “That’s for me!” The ovations I had received for acting propelled me towards the stage and my audition for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). I did well at RADA, was highly commended in my finals, and became a graduate. By the end of my time at the academy, however, although what I had learned was to serve me all my life, I’d decided that the professional stage was not for me—too much infighting and competition, too many late nights, and too much separation from nature.
I’d recently fallen deeply in love with mountains, and in taking up rock, snow, and ice climbing, I’d discovered that I needed this vigorous immersion in nature as well as the camaraderie of the mountain climbing crowd. When climbing mountains, I learned to master my fear of heights and how to push myself to the edge of my endurance. In doing this, a number of other fears dropped away. I also had very meaningful experiences of teamwork when we safe-guarded each other on the same rope. But I couldn’t make climbing mountains a career.
“You must now earn your living, my girl!” my father declared one morning at breakfast, and he insisted that I take a brief secretarial course. This was not at all to my liking! I did not have the methodical mind-set of a good secretary.
I got fired from my first secretarial job! I was working for the accountant of a well-known publishing firm. I couldn’t get down the facts and figures fast enough in my recently learned shorthand, and so I sometimes incorrectly reproduced the monthly financial statements of earnings for the authors. In addition to feeling inadequate, I found the job very uninteresting, and I was about to give in my notice when my boss beat me to it!
Next, I became a secretary in the features department of the BBC. I got fired from this job as well! This time it was for refusing to work on a program that enthusiastically promoted Britain’s production of a new nuclear missile. I had recently walked the fifty-two-mile Aldermaston March for Nuclear Disarmament, and I wasn’t going to compromise my ideals. The two producers I worked for were very annoyed and reported me to the administrative assistant of the department on the ruse that they were dissatisfied with my work. When she discovered the facts behind the case she got another producer to help monitor the program, and offered me a parallel job anywhere I wanted to be in the BBC!
I chose to move to the administrative section where, while awaiting a vacancy, I “filled in” for secretaries who were temporarily away. This gave me a lot of opportunity to work for different people, and I soon discovered that I did much better when I was given some leeway to use my initiative. After about three months a vacancy occurred with a man whose job it was to interview workers to see if they were suitable for certain positions, and to assess their capabilities. I would have to accompany him in order to write up factual reports. I liked the sound of this even though I had been warned that he was hard to work with. I soon created a way of making large color charts that allowed him to quickly find and cross-reference the information. To my surprise he sent in a report that I was the best secretary he had ever had! On this basis I was then promoted to a list of people who were chosen to receive training to become administrative assistants. The wheel of fortune had reversed, but I never stayed at the BBC long enough to reap the benefits. Within that year I left to get married to a man whom I had met half way up a mountain in Austria, and moved to the west coast of Canada!
I had three children within the next few years and loved being a Mum. But I didn’t see myself staying at home for the next twenty years or so (I was married to a university professor and could have afforded to do so). I started to think about work that really interested me and in which I could have a good deal of autonomy. My jobs as a secretary in England had taught me much about my strengths and weaknesses. Thereafter, I created my own career for many years.
“Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”
—William Jennings Bryan
After some initial training I started to teach creative dance and fitness to different age-groups. As well as being fascinated by the subject of movement, I found I had a passion for teaching. I managed to get various institutions to hire me, but they always let me develop my own program. I taught at recreation centers, at university, and in the early childhood department of a nearby college. Eventually I wrote a developmental book on creative dance for children that sold several thousand copies to universities. After that I found myself on a teaching circuit giving a series of early childhood workshops at various colleges in Canada and the States. So although I was being hired by “the system” I was in essence outside of it. And I learned much about mind/body/soul coordination. As Martha Graham once said, “Dance is the hidden language of the soul in the body.”
On one occasion I taught a course of movement classes to the men’s Olympic Rowing Team at the University of Victoria. They already did three hours physical training a day, and I was quite nervous when they poured into my class the first time. They were all at least twice as big as I was! The wonderful thing is that they were the best class I have ever had! Their focus was incredible, and they were so used to working together as a team that there was a great spirit of harmony and cooperation in the room. Having been more of a loner in my career endeavors, this was again, for me, a huge lesson in the inherent value of teamwork.
Some years later, I moved to an alternative island situated just off the east coast of Vancouver Island and had to look for any employment I could find. Briefly stepping back into the system I took a job under a crusty proprietor in a bookstore for minimum wage, who insisted I not sit down all day and who counted and recorded how many books were not in a straight line at going-home-time. As soon as possible I found another job, this time as the front-desk person in a busy, local hotel. American visitors would often come to pay their bill in the last few minutes before their ferry-ride off the island, and I had to rapidly amalgamate all their Canadian receipts from six different departments and translate the final sum into American currency. I did succeed in not losing my job this time, in fact I was asked to return the next season, but I didn’t enjoy it at all! I’ve always found it difficult to do work that is very left-brained, and composed of bits and pieces of non-connected detail. It was the kind of work I had disliked as a young secretary, but this further immersion in it was no doubt very good practice for me! I have much admiration for those who are good at this kind of thing and I continue to make a sincere effort to improve at it.
Next, I volunteered to be the fundraiser for the Women’s Center in the nearest big town. They had just lost their government funding, and I had to discover ways of keeping them afloat for the next year until the government decided to support them again. They did offer to pay me, and I wrote grants, put together and promoted shows of local talent, and solicited however and wherever I could. I’ve never liked asking for money and this was quite difficult for me, but I believed so much in the cause, particularly when I became privy to the appalling statistics of wife and child abuse. We did get through the year tolerably well and stayed solvent. This job gave me much insight into the dark places in our society and my social conscience was growing.
Shortly after that I took a four-hundred-hour training as a life skills coach, and was interviewed and accepted for this position in a job training project. We served young people who were high school drop-outs, who’d often experienced much trauma in their lives, and who genuinely wanted to work. After taking a course with us, eighty per cent of them were successful in finding and keeping a job, or else they chose to continue with their education. In this job I learned a lot more about social conditions, and how to teach individuals who were initially resistant. The main key to this was that they knew I cared about them. I also enjoyed working with a team of dedicated staff, each of us with a different part of the job project to maintain. But there was an irony to it all because, despite the fact we were giving these young people an opportunity to earn a living that they sorely needed, we were also training them to be part of the prevailing system, which was becoming increasingly corrupt and big-corporation owned.
My life skills coach certification had been granted at the end of my training course but needed to be renewed and finalized after I’d worked for two years in the field. The private firm who had given this course asked me for a copy of the lessons that I’d taught, and they objected to my not following their exact method. I had created two or three new lesson plans, modified a couple of others, and re-arranged them all as best suited to our particular clientele. Although this approach had proved very successful in the field, and although my manager wrote me a glowing recommendation, I failed to get my final certificate. I was told to try again for a further two years, sticking exactly to their formula! My manager wanted me to continue with my work there, certificate or no certificate, but after all these varied failures and successes from which I had learned many life-lessons, something very important was still missing. I had come to a major cross-roads in my life.
Finding the Treasure
Shakespeare’s Hamlet said, “There’s a divinity that shapes our ends rough hew them how we will.” Well, I’d been doing quite a bit of “rough hewing” for thirty years or so, and I’d come to the point of needing to stop and really tune in. What was the important thing that was still missing? I had to leave my life skills job, my cabin in the woods, my children and grandchildren, and also my cat, in order to find out. I had been on a spiritual quest for as long as I could remember, and now was the time for me to take a pilgrimage to pursue it in earnest. I traveled down through the western States until I reached Sedona, Arizona, where I wanted to visit the advertised rock vortices. The day before I was due to leave as I was slowly ambling along the banks of Oak Creek, I experienced a very powerful sense of coming home! I saw a woman coming towards me and knew I had to speak with her. The fact that all the bells were going off in my head was neither practical, nor logical. After some initial small-talk, the woman told me that she belonged to a spiritual community, and I began to ask questions about it. I had never desired to live in a community but such was the magnetic energy that surrounded me that I began to experience a sense of purpose that was much bigger and stronger than any particular job or life-style could offer. Right destiny was calling loud and clear! So I discovered more and more about Global Community Communications Alliance, and soon made a never-to-be-regretted-decision to stay, if they would have me.
“God is not only the determiner of destiny; he is man’s eternal destination.”
—The URANTIA Book, Paper 5, Section 4
I’ve lived in this community (which is now based in Tumacacori, Arizona) for almost twenty years, and for nearly as long have worked in Global Community Communications Schools for Teens and Children. I now train teachers, coordinate curriculum, direct our children’s choir, and produce and write plays for them. In addition I teach creative dance, language arts, and the kind of life skills that develop character and foster service to others. My varied life-experience enables me to give away what I know to others, and I’m really using the gift that was so unexpectedly revealed to me in that elevator many years ago. But I know this is not just a question of my own fulfilment, for my work is helping to train our children to become leaders and change-agents for a better world. Increasingly, I feel that I’m part of a large network of seen and unseen beings who, led by the Christ spirit, are pulling together to help bring this planet into life and light. This sense of working with others for a planetary vision is what was missing in my former hit-and-miss career.
Here at Global Community Communications Alliance we study, live, and work under the outstanding leadership of Gabriel of Urantia and Niánn Emerson Chase and, as we grow, divine pattern flows more and more into our lives radiating through our numerous outreaches to many others. I’m learning that as we listen more to “the divinity that shapes our ends” the less “rough hewing” we have to do! After all, every ability or gift that we possess comes to us from this divinity in the first place.
As we practice unfolding our right destiny we come to see that we don’t only need to develop our special gifts but that performing simple services such as slicing the carrots, or scrubbing down the bath, are also part of this bigger picture! Our lives start to turn into a collective song of praise as we join with one another in the faith that, despite and beyond the present disasters of our planet, the light is growing in the world! We become part of that all-inclusive flow of right destiny coming from our Creator in a great big circuit that returns to Him. This is a relief and a growing cause of joy. Even though our lower selves don’t always want to follow divine leading in a particular given moment, following our right destiny more and more eventually makes our particles start to dance!
The sacred beat is thrumming in the essence of each atom,
And we must listen, following the call,
Softer than a snowflake’s fall,
The still small voice that orchestrates it all
Forever, and forever, and forever.