Who Saves Us? A Meditation about Joan of Arc

Who Saves Us? A Meditation about Joan of Arc May 30, 2024

Joan of Arc
Hendrik Scheffer
1843

The novelist Lidia Yuknavitch tells how once in her youth, “Joan of Arc visited me in a dream—in the dream, I was standing in our front yard and our house was on fire. She stepped out of the burning house and said ‘No one is coming to save you.’”

Joan comes to us in dreams. She can do that.

And those words. Well, if anyone knows those words, it would be Joan.

The 30th of May is observed as a feast for Joan as a saint in the Roman Catholic church. Her path to that signal honor is largely known. She was a “propertied peasant,” which means something vaguely like middle class today.

She was born into the midst of the Hundred Years War, where through the ironies of history the Norman French conquest of England eventually evolved into a large part of France being occupied by the English. As youth Joan began to have visions of the Archangel Michael, the martyrs Saint Margaret of Antioch, and Saint Catherine of Alexandria. Inspired by their words to her, Joan put on armor and gathered followers to fight the English occupiers. There were some early victories. Then disaster.

She was captured by the English and, interestingly, tried for heresy. From our perspective a compelling twist was how among the heretical charges was how she wore men’s clothing. Convicted of heresy, then burned at the stake, she became a French folk hero. Eventually the Church found it better to have her inside than out, and canonized her.

And now the 30th of May is the day she’s remembered.

Who she really was and what she believed and what she experienced have been burned to ash with the bonfire.

Although a sort of resurrection occurred. The flesh and blood person became a symbol. A dream. Actually someone who could visit others in their dreams. And there are many dreams.

I think of Lidia Yuknavitch and her dream. “Joan of Arc visited me in a dream—in the dream, I was standing in our front yard and our house was on fire. She stepped out of the burning house and said ‘No one is coming to save you.’”

Who saves us?

I think about how we become dreams. All of us. Some with fire, others with tragedy, others with age or love. All of us become part flesh and part dream. The new paradigm may be inevitable. But…

Who saves us? How does the new paradigm take flesh?

And with that I think of how we can and sometimes do visit each other in that world which joins us all…

And I see an answer to our dreams…

About James Ishmael Ford
James Ishmael Ford is a Zen teacher and a Unitarian minister. In addition to his blog Monkey Mind, he maintains a spiritual newsletter, Unanswered Question at jamesiford.substack.com You can read more about the author here.
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