The Graduate – An Illustrative Story by Michael G. Reccia
The graduate was a brilliant man...
He had gained a first class honours degree in Graphic Design.
Why, then, he wondered, was he still out of work almost two years to the day after leaving university? It was Monday morning and, as he had done every Monday for the past few months, he found himself standing outside the Post Office with a small bundle of notes in his hand, the result of having cashed the weekly cheque that allowed him to pay the rent and do little else.
He walked slowly up the street towards the block of flats where he lived. Ahead of him, by the side of the road, a man was anxiously looking at the flat tyres of his big silver BMW. They had been slashed and the man seemed to be in a panic. He was holding his mobile phone to one ear and obviously having trouble finding a connection. "Come on, come on," he shouted into the mobile. The graduate shook his head in disbelief as he passed him by - whatever was the world coming to?
A little further up the road he reached the newsagent's shop where he bought his Saturday newspaper. The newsagent was standing outside the shop with his back to him, sweeping shards of broken glass off the payment and into a large shovel. The graduate was shocked to see that the shop's windows had been smashed during the night, almost certainly the result of vandalism, and that pieces of broken glass now littered the inside of the shop, covering the chocolates and the papers and the soft drinks. The graduate sighed. Things around here were going from bad to worse.
A little further up the street old Nell sat in the spot by the side of the road she had claimed as her own, and from which she begged for money. He always avoided the elderly lady's gaze as he didn't have enough money for himself, let alone enough to give a little something to a beggar. He felt terrible on her behalf. People shouldn't have to resort to begging in a civilised society.
As he mounted the steps that led up to the block of flats where he lived he passed a man who lived in one of the flats on the floor below him. He was struggling with a large, heavy box that obscured his vision and was having a difficult time negotiating the double swing doors of the building.
The graduate slipped by him as the man propped one of the doors open with his back and shot up the flights of stairs that led to his flat. He slammed his door shut, took out the half bottle of whisky a friend had given him for Christmas, sat at the small Formica table by the window that overlooked the street and poured himself a glass. As he sipped from it he closed his eyes for a moment, thought over the troubles he had just witnessed on the street and said to himself, "There must be somewhere better than this. There MUST be a better place than this."
When he opened his eyes he found himself back on the street standing outside the Post Office with the money from his cashed cheque once again in his hands. Everything around him seemed just as it had a few moments ago. It was all so real. A slim man in his late fifties or early sixties with distinguished-looking, greying hair and wearing a black business suit was standing beside him. He turned to the graduate and asked, "Are you all right, Son? You seem to be a little disorientated" "I am", replied the graduate." I've already done this once been to the Post Office, I mean, today. It seems like a dream" "It's not a dream, son," replied the man. "Your wish has been granted." "My wish? What wish?" "You wished for a better place. You wanted a better place than this."
Reasoning to himself that he must, in fact, have had a great deal more whisky that he remembered drinking, and that he must actually still be in his flat right now dreaming all this, and that he's better go along with the flow of the dream, following its logical course in his mind until he woke up, he replied "And this is your idea of a better place, is it? Exactly where I was in the first place?
How can THIS be a better place?" "It can be once you've made it so," replied the man. "Come. Let's take a walk back to your flat."
The graduate walked sullenly by the side of the man in the business suit until they reached the man with the BMW who was staring at his slashed tyres obviously this was a complete replay of earlier events. "Didn't you think to offer him the use of your mobile?" "I don't know him," said the graduate with a blank expression. "And besides - what makes you think I can afford a mobile on my income?" The businessman sighed. "There's a 'phone in your block of flats, isn't there? You could at least have pointed him in the right direction. Look, Son. I'll show you how it's done. Watch me," and he walked up to the man, sympathised with his plight, asked if he might be of assistance and offered him the use of his mobile phone. "Oh, thank you. THANK YOU," said the man. "My wife's ill in hospital and I didn't want to worry her by being late." The driver gratefully made a couple of calls, one to his wife, the other to a garage.
The graduate and the businessman then continued on down the road until they came to the newsagent's shop. Once again the newsagent stood outside, sweeping up what was left of his windows. "Didn't you think to have a word with him? To offer a few words of comfort?" asked the man. Again, the graduate gave him a blank look. "Watch and learn," said the man. He walked over to the newsagent and said to him," I think you're very brave. It must be hard to carry on when something like this has happened." "Third time this year," said the newsagent. "I wouldn't call myself brave. Just a matter of having to carry on - got a wife and kids to support." "Nevertheless, it must have been a difficult day for you. I'm sorry I can't help you in any way materially but I will remember you in my prayers during the day, if that's all right with you?" A tear came to the newsagent's eye. "I think that's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me, he replied, "Thank you." "There," said the businessman, returning to where the graduate was standing. "That wouldn't have cost you a penny. The only thing you would have had to spend to make him feel better, to make his world a slightly better place, was a tiny amount of your time."
They walked up to the spot where old Nell was sitting, dangling her legs in the gutter. "Now don't tell me I could have helped her", said the graduate. "I've barely enough money to keep things together myself" "Money isn't what she needs," said the businessman, and he sat right down on the dusty pavement next to her. "I think you're very brave," he said. "You must get a lot of abuse" "I don't have a choice, really," she said. "This is the only way I can make any money for a bed for the night or for food." "How are you feeling today?" asked the man. "Bless you, I'm not too bad," she replied. "Rheumatism's giving me a bit of trouble, but nothing I can't handle." "I've no money to give you, love, I'm afraid," said the businessman. "But I will remember you in my prayers all day today." A tear came to the old lady's eyes. "Bless you, Son." she smiled. "And I'll remember you in mine"
As they walked onwards the man in the suit said, "See? No money required. Just a little of your time and you have quite a lot of that on your hands at the moment, don't you?" They reached the bottom step leading up to the block of flats. There, once again, was the graduate's lower-floor neighbour, struggling with the huge box. It suddenly dawned on the graduate to help the man through the double doors. "There's hope for you yet," shouted the businessman as the graduate ran up the steps to hold the double doors open. The graduate lifted some of the folders, for that's what the box contained, out of the box and led the way up the stairs to his neighbour's flat.
A very grateful neighbour thanked him and asked if he would like to come in for a cup of tea? As he entered the flat he looked down the stairs, expecting to see the man in the black suit, but he'd gone vanished as though into thin air. The two men chatted over a cup of tea and the graduate was surprised to see that his neighbour was also an artist. Paintings hung on every wall, and a drawing board sat in a corner. When he mentioned that he had a graphics degree his neighbour looked shocked. "I've been looking for a competent graphics designer to head up the art department of my print company for months." He said. "I can't make you rich but you'll be comfortable, and a couple of years with me should kick start your career."
As the two men shook hands the graduate distinctly heard the voice of the businessman whispering in one ear. "Oh, yes, and I forgot to tell you. When you make this world a better place by giving out to it, it gives back to you with interest"
The woman's alarm went off at 3am precisely as it did every night. She shrugged on her slippers and her dressing gown and went downstairs to the little front bedroom where her husband, who had fallen from a ladder and become paralysed from the neck down a year earlier, needed turning in his bed. Nurses came in and helped her during the day and right up until 10 o clock at night, but at 3am and 7am it was up to her. Somehow she managed once again to turn her husband, who was a big man, and then went back to bed to grab a few precious hours sleep ready for the next shift.
She loved her husband dearly, but she felt tired. Very tired. As she lay down once more, she couldn't help saying, half jokingly, "Stop the world, I want to get off."
She closed her eyes for a moment, and when she opened them again found herself not in her bed but, instead, standing on the street in front of her house. It was light and, from the amount of traffic on the road, she guessed it must be around 8.30 in the morning. The traffic wasn't moving, however. Everything had stopped as though frozen in time, drivers sitting like tailor's dummies in their cars. On the pavements mothers stood like statues, their hands entwined in the hands of their children, unmoving in mid school rush. She walked up to the nearest mother and frantically waved a hand in front of her face. Nothing. She was completely oblivious.
Intrigued and bewildered, the woman wandered off into the town, still wearing only her nightdress and slippers. She felt drawn towards the railway station as she wandered through silent streets of motionless people and, when she reached it, she walked through the big archway and out onto the platform.
There, where a train or at very least metal rails should have been, she saw a beautiful green, grassy lawn, which sloped gently upwards to the most beautiful and enchanting land she had ever seen. In the distance were purple hills. In the foreground delightful people in luminous coloured robes that seemed to shine and shimmer in the overall golden light walked between and into striking, classically-styled buildings with fluted columns outside them and steps of marble leading into them. This was exactly the place she wanted to be. She'd had enough of this world.
A silver haired man in a black business suit stood waiting at the point where the grass met the platform. "Mind the gap," he called, as she prepared to cross over to the grassy slope. She looked down and saw that, between the platform's edge and the start of the grassy slope there was a gap of a few inches, and through it she could see stars set against an inky blackness. So this magical land had nothing to do with the earth as she had guessed nowhere on earth could be this beautiful.
She strode over the slight gap and straight up the grassy slope, ignoring the businessman in her haste to enter this special land. Halfway up the slope her whole body suddenly slammed into an unseen something as though she had hit a pane of glass or an invisible force field. She was thrown back by the impact and landed on the grass where she lay dazed until the man in the suit ran up to her. "You'll have quite a bump on that tomorrow," he said, pointing to her forehead.
She ignored him, got up and twice more tried to enter the beautiful landscape, each time being forced back by the invisible something.
"Well, how does it feel to have had your wish granted?" asked the man.
"I don't understand," she said.
"You wanted the world stopped. You wanted to get off. Your wish has been granted."
"Yes," she said, a little shocked. "I wanted to go somewhere better... Somewhere just like this, in fact," she said, pointing to the wondrous scene in front of her.
"And so you shall, one day," he said. "But not now. Not by stopping the world. And not by getting off. You see, the one leads to the other."
"I don't understand," she said for a second time.
"You came to earth as a soul to learn," said the man. "To grow and I know present circumstances are terribly difficult for you and for your husband, but they lead directly to this place for both of you. You see, in order to enter into this state of being your vibrations as souls have to become quicker, have to speed up, and they do that whilst you are on earth as you face and overcome challenges, as you learn. That is why you find yourself in your current circumstances of life; they are not there by accident or coincidence. They are there because you stand to benefit by negotiating them. They are not God's punishment on you - they are life's golden opportunity to become more than you were when you began your life on earth. Don't ever even in jest wish that you could stop the world and get off. If that happened you would never enter this paradise and the ones that lie beyond it. The earth is your gateway, your schoolroom, which leads to God's glorious worlds on other, higher vibrations. So be brave, go back and tend to your husband as you have done thus far with love. Let's start the world again and you must try to go on with renewed vigour. And one day the gates to this place will open for you. When you step through them on that day the world will stop not for everyone, just for you and a whole new adventure will begin."
She thanked him and closed her eyes. When she opened them again she was back in her bed. The vision of the beautiful place she had seen remained with her through her sleeping hours until it was time to get up and turn her husband again with a heart that now felt so much lighter.
She stared blankly at the photographs in her hand as the private detective's car disappeared down the street. They confirmed her worst fears. Her husband was having an affair. The photographs, which were date-stamped, showed him leaving some strange woman's house on the morning when he had told his wife he was on a business trip. Showed him kissing her.
Tears began to run down her cheeks. She sat at her kitchen table and sobbed uncontrollably. Her mascara ran and her hair became matted with the tears. She sat there for a long time, shaking and becoming more and more depressed until, finally, she said to herself from between clenched teeth, "I wish I was dead. I wish I was dead!"
She closed her eyes in agony, and, when she opened them again, found she was no longer sitting at her table but was, instead, standing with a group of mourners watching a coffin being lowered into the hole in the ground which had been prepared for it.
"Well," whispered a man in a black suit standing next to her, "how does it feel to have got your wish?"
"What?" she cried.
"You wished you were dead," he said, gesturing to the coffin. "And now you are. Those are your mortal remains. How does it feel?"
"What?" she said. "I I was upset. It's just a turn of phrase"
"A very serious one," said the man. "I know it must have seemed like your world had ended, but it hadn't... So much that was good was to have come to you in future - and now it's all irrelevant..."
"So much that was good? In my future? I don't see how".
"Well," said the man. "I'm not supposed to do this, but I suppose it can't hurt, now that you're dead and everything. Come I'll show you a little of what might have been".
He took her by the hand and suddenly she was standing not by a graveside but, instead, on a soft carpet in a very pleasant lounge in someone's house. A tall, kind-looking man in his fifties was sitting on the sofa watching TV. It was obvious that he couldn't see either of them. A pleasant-looking woman came through from the kitchen and sat next to him as he reached for the 'phone. She seemed familiar, somehow.
The man dialled a number and a sweet-looking girl picked up the 'phone at the other end. The woman didn't understand how she could possibly see the caller and the person on the other end of the 'phone at the same time. Perhaps it was because she was dead.
The girl was obviously the couple's daughter. She laughed and joked with them and the scene was one of near perfect family harmony. The woman recognised the girl's features and, in amazement, turned to the man in the black suit and said, "But that's ME, isn't it?"
"Close," laughed the man. "She's actually your daughter or would have been, had we not granted your wish."
"But if that's my daughter, then the woman on the sofa must be."
"Yes," said the man in the black suit. "Don't you recognise yourself? A few grey hairs, but I think you'll agree you're still a very respectable looking woman."
"But if that's me," reasoned the woman, "Then who's the man sitting next to me?"
"Your future husband," he replied. "You see, everything in life changes. Nothing is permanent on the earth plane. The circumstances you find yourself in at this minute may be tough, but they will eventually move aside. They have something to teach you and your present husband, and when you've learned a soul lesson from them they will disappear and your path will lead directly to this kind man and this happy home and your future daughter. Or, rather, they would have Pity you're dead now you'll never meet him or give birth to her..."
The woman began to cry again, until the man smiled gently, touched her on the shoulder and said, "April fool! You're not really dead. I just wanted to point out to you the folly of wishing you were. Now please go back to your life and remember what you have seen today. Your future is there for you if you just keep on keeping on. Be brave, trust in God and things will change."
And she opened her eyes to find herself back at her kitchen table, still clutching the photographs. The pain was intense but, as she remembered where she had been and what she had seen, not quite as intense as it had been before. After all, her bright new future was somewhere out there waiting for her.
Ladies and Gentleman, we all, at some stage or another in our lives, say things like:
"There must be a better place than this." "Stop the world, I want to get off!" and, may God forgive us, "I wish I was dead!"
Let's take these one at a time:
Yes, there are lots of places that are better than this one in the spirit worlds but we are HERE at the moment, and one of our duties as spiritually minded souls is to try to make the place we are living in the 'better place' we would like it to be, by treating others with respect and with love. By being helpful, peaceful, considerate people.
Do we really want to stop the world and get off? Not if we want to progress to the worlds beyond this one, we don't. We are here on this planet to grow and to evolve as the souls we really are, and we progress as spirits by facing and overcoming challenges along life's path. We are in school taking exams, if you like, and the outcome of those exams determines where we graduate to next.
Do we really wish we were dead? No, we don't or shouldn't. Everything passes, including the hard times you might be going through at the moment. Those 'hard times' are there for a reason, and that reason is not to pull you down, not to make you feel so bad about life that you don't want to carry on, but to lift your soul up, to elevate your vibrations so that, when you return to your spiritual home, you will have earned the right to live a little closer to your God, both in mind and in location.
Finally, the man in the black business suit –a guardian angel, perhaps, or a spirit guide? He represents the guidance and protection we always have with throughout our lives. The voice from within encouraging us through difficult times; advising us when the path becomes rocky; assuring us that life is not only worthwhile, but is a golden opportunity to give out and to take in light, to become more than we were when we first incarnated an essential journey on the road that leads to our glorious home in the spirit worlds.
If you have enjoyed this story please visit Michael's FREE website: www.michaelandjane.co.uk
- which he co-authors with his partner, Jane, and which contains uplifting channelled spiritual teachings from his guides. You can also sign up for a free monthly newsletter - each containing additional channelled lectures plus other interesting stories.
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