In 1980, with my family, I joined the Fourways Emissary community in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was situated on a 10-acre property with a large rambling house on the outskirts of the city. It had been purchased the previous year and I had just returned from a two-month spiritual class at an Emissary community in 100 Mile House in British Columbia.
I was excited. I was entering a whole new life! There was so much to learn and so much to experience, so many loving people and such a warm, deep welcome. It was all so wonderful! It was my wildest dream come true, and it seemed so cool. I had never got into the whole hippie thing—I had been farming in an isolated area over that time—but somehow this seemed to carry that same appeal for me, the same feeling of freedom, the same level of sharing and mutual understanding, oneness.
Before a year was up, reality hit, and I started realizing what it means to actually be part of an intentional spiritual community—a collective of people that’s committed to the expression of the truth, to service and to the expression of spirit, no matter what. I soon found it wasn’t as easy as it had seemed. It wasn’t a slow, gentle boat to Nirvana!
Something was required of me that I was seriously doubting that I could deliver. Like most people, I had faced some challenges in my life so far, mostly at a physical and emotional level, but the choice I had made to change the direction of my life to one of spiritual development and expression, in concert with others of like-mind, had brought a whole new unexpected range of challenge that I felt unprepared for and unable to meet.
I wondered how I could keep going in this new life that I had chosen. My old life was no longer available to me and this new life, being a part of the community and what it represented, had been so appealing but now seemed like an impossible dream. I was clearly at an important threshold.
On looking back at the dilemma I was facing and how it turned out, I realize that the solution was very simple—be clear about what I loved most and then commit the rest of my life to that. Nothing less than that would satisfy the longing that had been awakened deep in my heart.
The breakthrough I was desperate for was not long in coming. I had to face two things—the fact that the answers to my challenges and fears were really simple; and the living into those answers was sometimes not so easy! Nevertheless, nothing else in my life mattered more to me than finding the way to embrace the life I knew was mine to live.
One of the most important things I learned at that time, and that proved to be the very key I was searching for, was “We know what we express.” If you want to know more love, express more love; if you want more authentic people in your world, be authentic yourself; if your world seems short on spiritual awareness, develop your own mindfulness and be awake to what’s really going on around you. And then share that awareness with your world.
I was fortunate to have the assistance of others in the community who had faced similar junctures in their own lives and had gained understanding from their own experience. With their support and encouragement I put a stake in the ground that would give me a reference point for the rest of my life, a point that represented integrity, trust in a larger design and confidence in the fact that I had something important and unique to bring into the world.
To have a fulfilled, creative and happy life, we each have to commit ourselves to something beyond our own preferences and desires, something relative to a context beyond just ourselves. Service to a higher purpose.
Not everyone in the world has the benefit of living in an intentional spiritual community and learning life-lessons while being held in love and elder wisdom. But there are probably multiple times in all our lives when we receive wakeup calls, invitations to reassess direction and realign our sense of purpose with something higher.
Luckily, it’s not a one-shot deal. In the cycles of all our lives, there come those times of opportunity to re-focus our efforts and re-align with our fundamental purpose. Like the course correction that’s necessary when sailing a boat or flying an aircraft, at times our lives need readjusting for us to stay on our chosen course.
My prayer for you is that, when you reach such a spiritual choice-point in your life, you will recognize what is available to you, someone who has the wisdom to assist you, a book that inspires you, a poem or song that hits just the right resonant tone and opens up a new vista of possibility for you. It’s both my belief and my experience that life provides all that we need for our life journey; it just takes open eyes and open heart to recognize what’s at hand.
The Glory of Being Myself
When the impulse to put myself out there
gets strong enough not to ignore anymore,
strange, wonderful and uncomfortable things happen.
The time for creating in a new and unfamiliar way
brings with it muscle-building, ego-busting energy
that can test the very marrow of my earthly being.
What price non-failure;
What fulfillment epic success!
What’s the motivation and where’s the victory?
Outer limitations a-plenty;
God of Infinite Possibility fully present at my core!
Do it, DO IT, DO IT!!
What can stop me—
with the flood of fiery joyflow surging to the surface,
demanding release NOW!
My soul and my world quiver with expectancy and delight
as pure light finds its way, like liquid gold,
into vacant crevices of human soul.
My fulfillment, like yours, marries human desire
to Cosmic Will and You and I
will never be the same again.
– Phil Richardson