I have had a conversation with one of my children, who will be called “Child” for the purposes of this blog post. This conversation took place over the past couple of years in various times and places.
Child: Dad, what would you do if you knew you could not fail? (I believe Child heard someone ask this as part of a motivational speech.)
Me (without missing a beat): I would unite the warring tribes of humanity. (Out of all the times that question is asked, I believe that response is rare, but there it is.)
Me: Have I told you about Joan of Arc? (I have other children, and I forget which speech I have given to which child)
Child: No, what about her?
Me: Well, she lived in France in the early 1400’s, during a time when France was divided between different groups, and oppressed by England. When she was 13, she began to experience inner voices speaking to her, whom she identified as St. Margaret, St. Catherine, St. Michael, and others. I consider these voices to be the voices of Joan of Arc’s Teachers, who are first mentioned in Step 22, “I am surrounded by the Teachers of God” of Steps to Knowledge. (Child is aware that I am studying Steps to Knowledge, and also recognizes that it is a relatively unknown, out-of-the-ordinary text at this time. Out of filial piety, Child regards my study of Steps to Knowledge with polite, inquisitive skepticism.)
When she was 16, the voices encouraged / insisted / commanded her to help Charles VII of France. She demonstrated instances of inexplicable knowing which caused people to take her seriously. She was well-known for helping the French lift the siege of Orleans in 1429. About a year after that, she was captured, tried for heresy and witchcraft, and burned at the stake.
(The instances of inexplicable knowing included (among other things) her awareness of the French defeat outside Orleans in February of 1429, her knowing the location of the sword buried behind the altar at the church of St. Catherine, and her communication to Charles VII which conclusively settled the question of the legitimacy of his birth. No, I didn’t say all these things to Child on this one occasion. I believe the term for this is a “composite.”)
Child: Couldn’t the angels have put out the flames and broke the ropes when she was being burnt at the stake?
Me: Maybe, but instead they helped her to be brave, forgiving to her killers, and faithful to what she knew to be true. (I blew the chance to say “If the angels put out the flames and broke the ropes, what would they have to do after that?”)
Dreaming of a unified humanity
Me: Joan of Arc had a dream. Her dream was that of a unified France, living at peace with an England that respected its borders. It didn’t happen in her lifetime. It took a little less than 500 years for it happen. In 1904, England and France signed a peace treaty, the Entente Cordiale. They have lived at peace with each other for the past 109 years. (It was 476 years between the time Joan’s voices directed her to come to the aid of France, and the signing of the Entente Cordiale.)
Child (with facial expression of realizing something): Well, maybe in the same way that it took 500 years or so for Joan of Arc’s dream to come true, it might take 500 years for your dream of a unified world to come true. That doesn’t make it any less wonderful of a dream. (I hope it will happen faster, but I took great joy in those words. I take great joy in sharing them with you.)
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