A Note to My Soul
Mark Williams, Ph.D.
Professor of Rhetoric
California State University, Sacramento
Here is the first rule of predicting the future in this moment, by my lights: Almost always we tend to forget or to discount the darkness we carry inside. That means that many of our predictions are likely to assume that we possess that sort of human nature we wish we had, but for which there is no actual evidence in history.
We will not be generally good, though some few persons of unusual courage and prayer will manage that feat.
We will not be generally wise, though a few people will quietly understand and quietly remark on these days with guidance and with wisdom for themselves, for those they love, for posterity.
A few–mostly those who are already powerful and wealthy–will find a way to turn the time ahead to their material advantage; a few, who are not powerful and wealthy, will be savvy enough to do the same. Both will be secretly envied by many.
A few will think about what matters and quietly re-prioritize their lives, but even these will often find their reordered priorities dominated by left-over bits and pieces of ideology roaming cage-free in their souls, and they will never get to the substance and bedrock of what really matters, and they will not escape Dante’s vestibule of Hell.
You are well qualified to be any of these darkened souls.
And having said all that, I still maintain an amazing amount of hope: there is an inescapable desire for truth and beauty and goodness in so very many folks muddling through life like sheep without a shepherd. And I keep friends in my company who, like me, are small and average, but I see in them the terrifying possibility of holiness: they are frighteningly capable of going nova and bursting on the scene with dazzling light. They are like Francis or Ephraim; like Mother Teresa, or Gildas; like the Little Flower, or, of course, Mary. Like so many others. Darkness ahead, for sure. But glory, too. I’ve no clue what shape either will take, but keep a weather eye out, my soul. Both will come, as sure as the Lady’s love.