by Diane Woodrow,
I wonder what we would have thought of Joan of Arc today even in some of the more crazy charismatic churches. She doesn’t fit the stereotype of prophetic leader. She didn’t have visions of Jesus but of Michael, the archangel, Catherine of the “death by flaming spinning wheel from which the firework known as the Catherine-wheel comes from”, and Margaret who was tortured and murdered because she would not renounce the vow to remain a virginal bride of Christ when a pagan king wanted to marry her. Would we have been more like one source and just say “she claimed to have heard voices in her head”?
I wonder if she had come forward today, a young girl of 16 or so, and said she heard voices of an angel and two martyred women and that she wanted to lead her country to victory, she would be taken to a psychiatric ward? Or, if one of our children said they heard voices, would we tell them to hush and maybe get them checked out for autism? Or, what about ourselves? What would you do, what would I do, if we were sure we could hear voices telling us to do something bold and brave? I wonder if we would just keep quiet and wait for our voices to be “confirmed”.
As I pondered Joan of Arc, Greta Thunberg came in to my head, the teenager who has stepped up to the mark to try to lead the world to another place. I wonder if there were other young people who felt the same but whose parents, teachers, or churches, told them not to be so silly and the whole thing was too big for them. Greta, I believe, has only got as far as she has because her parents didn’t stop her. There is nothing to say what Joan of Arc’s parents thought but it was her relative who was bold enough to take her to a local garrison and from there she made it to the French court.
Joan experienced lots of opposition but preserved because of her total belief that this was what God was telling her through his messengers; Michael, Catherine and Margaret. How often do we hear something, and hear it very clear, and yet when we hit opposition, or lack of support from others, we give up? This doesn’t mean that we should power on through because we think this is what we should do but sometimes, like both Joan and Greta, we need to listen to what we are hearing, listen with our hearts, and keep on keeping on even if it means we lose our reputation, our livelihoods, and in Joan’s case, our lives.
I don’t think Joan cared what other people thought. I don’t think Greta cares much either. This isn’t to say I think either of these young women lack emotion at all. I think they both believe/believed that what they were doing is/was so right that they just can’t/could stop.
From pondering Joan of Arc, and as a result of that Greta Thunberg, my hope is that when I hear a voice or voices telling me to go and do something I won’t hold back whatever opposition I face, or however much it might damage my reputation. But also when I hear of some young person talking about a dream, a vision, voices speaking to them, that will change the world I will be willing to encourage them rather than hinder them.
Our world needs to change to stop it going back to the same pre-covid patterns where those who have stuff and status, fear of losing out to those who do not, and where those who do not have status are treated with disgrace and live in fear of having the little they have taken from them. We need to change and I believe we need younger people to help us with that – with more energy, more determination, more of an innocent belief that things can change.
I would like to be like Joan of Arc’s relative, helping to get someone young person to where they believe they should be, helping and encouraging them to see the change they believe in.
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