In the natural cycle of things, integrity and the defining element of grace expresses itself best by those who humbly remain on speaking terms with the changing spirit of the times. In this conversation, reverent attention to something largely unseen is the rule and the blind pursuit of obvious advantage becomes an obstacle. This is especially true following a period of fruitful abundance when, like the trees in autumn, the vitality on the surface begins to wane and we are called inward. At times like these, renewal is found underground where the roots gather strength in the nurturing darkness. One who willfully stays on the surface when the cold wind of a changing season begins to blow, is literally left out in the cold.

If we look to our contemporary wisdom keepers, those on the cutting edge of any worthwhile pursuit, we will see how they remain mysteriously at-one with the changing season and consistent, even against the odds. In the comings and goings of worldly enterprise they are coming when most of us are going and leaving when most of us are just arriving. Greed, the frenzy of trends, and loss seem not to affect them adversely. Integrity gracefully develops in “winning” or “losing,” on cue, without the despair associated with preferred outcome. This kind of unshakable presence in the highs and lows of a schizophrenic, human economy demonstrates how consistency and integrity develop when we have the faith and courage to sacrifice our decaying notions of success and failure when those notions no longer serve the spirit of the day.

A true leader is not one who is “in control” – she is one who can hold the uncertainty, tune-in to the requirements of the Now and unconditionally submit to the perfection of a moment’s higher calling. Even if the requirement of that calling tilts downward, fluid acquiescence to this strange perfection proves to be the only path upward!

We invest heavily in a world of useless suffering when we lose the necessary fluidity required to inhabit the lowlands of surrender and attempt to stay above the natural cycle of expansion and contraction. There is no limit to the potential scope of the suffering we create by such determined immunity. The world leader, who remains doggedly unresponsive to the larger cycles, forgoes access to a deeper level of wisdom and intuitive insight. Such a leader supports policies that are out of balance with the rest of the world, arbitrarily defines the conditions of predatory aggressions and takes too much from those who are least able to give.
Many of the Eastern spiritual traditions, Western mystics and the alchemical tradition acknowledge and value all aspects of the creative cycle of birth and death. Reverently tended, each aspect of the cycle offers a different kind of gift – even if that gift is hidden in the environment of “limitation.” It is clear to many of the more fearless and sensitive among us that we are in the “death throws” of the cycle at this time. You see this natural expression of decline coming through at many levels, some of which are being expressed unconsciously.

We have the hint of natural decline reflected back to us from an entire generation that may have accurately been labeled “Generation-X!” When reality has drawn an “X” across a dying way of life it would be wise to acknowledge and fully inhabit the reality of the statement. There are indicators of death coming through our current generation of young people as well, in the cryptic and gothic imagery being expressed. With white makeup, black lips and nails and plenty of bones and skulls -- the look of death has literally become fashionable! In more conventional terms you can see the hint of death in the winding-down of an illusory economy that cannot possibly serve the collective whole for more than a generation or two more!

We have begun to experience limitation at all levels and we have to trust and respond fearlessly to these limitations, inhabit the territory and allow something new to emerge. To the wise ones who remain watchful on all fronts -- spiritual, cultural, political and economic, this limitation may actually be seen as something positive and hopeful! Creativity is born in the environment of limitation. If recognized and respectfully tended, limitation has the potential to shake us out of our complacency and force the hand of a more balanced and sustainable way of life – personally, communally and globally.

By recognizing and accepting the cyclical flow of a continually changing reality, we can become willing participants in the empowering dance of nature’s joyful rhythm. In this process we have the potential to find inspiration in the very emptiness that may have originally terrified us. Once inspired, we will inevitably inspire others and become harbingers of a solid new vision. When we are able to find the gold, even in the shadows, our work, rather than being a self-serving ordeal, becomes a meaningful venture that expands outward and benefits everyone. With a fearlessly moral heart our insights and activities have the potential to bushwhack entangled social quagmires and create paths that take us in meaningful new directions.

For those of us who are determined to ignore the full potential inherent in the cycle of surrender we see a more destructive scenario living itself out in our world. It is the scenario of fear and contraction. In this culture we invest in denial, despair and the economy of self-interest. When we fear the mystery of cyclical change and try to hold on to an identity that no longer serves us, we link our identity to a dying paradigm. In a sense we go down with the ship, grasping whatever scraps of debris are left lingering on the surface! You don’t have to look very far to see how current factions of our political, religious and corporate institutions have sunk to desperate new lows grasping for what remaining scraps of status quo remain. It is the same lack of willing participation and the failure to respond appropriately to the demands of healthy change that is causing many of these institutions to come undone. The Truth will always be the Truth! Over time, any willful strategy designed to create an illusory, surface image rooted in denial is no match for the relentless power of death and the bare-bones requirements of renewal!

As the inspired new paradigm makes its way through the collective it unconditionally demands its’ pound of flesh and anyone invested in the dust of a dying enterprise will eventually have to pay-up! It is especially important to pursue the gifts inherent in each aspect of a cycle when old forms lose their meaning and begin to crumble. Here, we must trust, sacrifice, surrender and make the choice of beauty under any circumstances. It is in the potential of this choice that the ongoing reality of hope exists and new forms are born. This hope will always be a mystery belonging to all of us no matter how loud the voice of fear, reason and material advantage informs otherwise. Remembering, after all is said and done; it is the children who will inherit our creation. In the loneliness of our vital decision-making process may we choose well, and may our legacy reflect the beauty of that choice.

Author's Bio: 

At the age of 29 artist, author Jerry Wennstrom let go of his identity by destroying his large body of art and giving away all of his possessions. After living a deliberately simple, spiritual life for over 15-years he eventually moved to Whidbey Island, married his life partner, Marilyn Strong and began doing art again. He now has a large, new body of art, travels nationally teaching, lecturing, and presetting his art and the films that were made about his life. He continues to do his art and writes a monthly column for Inferential Focus a New York City think tank and consulting firm. For more information go to-