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…it is germinating now, that sustainable society on which the future depends…Although it doesn’t feature in the day’s headlines or evening news, a silent revolution is occurring, bringing unparalleled changes to the way we see and think and relate. I imagine that future generations will look back on this period and call it the time of the “Great Turning.”

—Joanna Macy

In life, as in nature, nothing stays the same. We live in a world of cycles, of endings and beginnings. One of my favorite quotes, from the poet Rilke, encourages us to “fear not the strangeness you feel inside you; the future must enter you long before it happens.” Can we sense this not only in our own lives, but in the world? Can we look about, amidst all of the violence, environmental degradation and laundry list of things-gone-wrong and see seeds of hope germinating everywhere? 

The examples are countless in terms of slow, but certain transitions to different kinds of cars, new energy sources, a focus on sustainable agriculture and healthier foods. And while this is not widespread, there is a definite change occurring…the slow, almost imperceptible change that marks the shift of the tides, or the loose boundary that dawn and dusk mark between day and night. It even can be seen in the way in which we are re-learning to relate to one another, what I like to call “the evolution of mind.” All major changes have humble beginnings, and come in cycles, as the melting snow feeds gorging rivers each spring. As Mother Teresa shared of her work: “There are no great acts, only small acts done with great love.”

To visualize the nature of this change, you can also think of the emergence of mammals from the age of the dinosaurs: those scurrying, miniscule creatures under the feet of such enormous beings whose time had already come.  I’ve heard it said that we must hospice the old culture while serving as midwives to the new.

Whatever we do, this is our work if we are committed to creating a more humane, sustainable society. And it happens in small ways—the way we relate to a co-worker or family member, the reaching out to another organization or business to partner in some new venture. And it happens by being patient and noticing that quietly, but certainly, the tide is turning.