Saint Joan of Arc

I fence. Actually, I don’t just fence, I LOVE to fence, I enjoy doing drills, bouting, learning, even being smoked by a fencer who is better than I am. Fighting with all I am emotionally, intellectually, and physically is magnificent!

As a fencer and a Catholic, I’m a big fan of Saint Joan of Arc. A while back, I read the book — Joan of Arc In Her Own Words, by William Trask — and was deeply touched by her faith and her courage. I think it was after reading that book, that I added her as a regular, to my nightly litany.

My brother Harry, me, and St. Joan of Arc.

Long ago, someone told me they thought we didn’t choose the Saints we have a devotion to. Instead, the Saints choose us. Quite remarkable that Joan of Arc might choose me. Remarkable, and quite fantabulous. I like it. I embrace Joan of Arc as my spiritual sister — a fierce woman of God who can understand my humanness, my fears, my love of fighting, my love of God — me.

People who know my story, remark on my courage, my fierceness, my bad-ass-ness. Sometimes I don’t see it as clearly. asthey do. Or, I know it is true, but don’t feel it, and don’t affirm myself in it as fully as I might.

That’s been my experience lately. I’ve been feeling a bit off my fierceness game as I manage life, remote teaching, family and friends, and try to wrap my head and heart around beginning cancer treatment sooner than I expected. It’s all good, but it’s not easy.

The moments of fear and emotion, where I cannot keep from crying, seem to fly in the face of fierceness. But perhaps that inner sense is not an adequate, or accurate, assessment of the situation.

As I sit here — not in a whirlwind of fear, grief, emotion, or crying — it appears my crying and feeling deeply, is an intense expression of fierceness and courage. I am not running away from the feeling or the intensity. I’m not pushing it down. I’m sitting with it, feeling it, and then going about life.

I will do my best to recall that truth when next I am in the storm.

The other day, amidst feelings of anxiousness, I noticed the book – Sitting Like A Saint, by Dr. Gregory Bottaro. I decided to play a bit of “bible roulette.” Have you ever done that? You ask for a word, and then just open the bible and see what is there. I figured “Sitting Like A Saint roulette” could work too.

I said a quick prayer and opened the book to — you guessed it –Joan of Arc.

“Sometimes we might feel scared, or not up for the challenge

Yes, yes, that’s what I’m feeling

“… but remembering God loves us and is here to protect us can help to calm our worried minds. You can be courageous in the face of a challenge … covered by God’s love and protection … and a soft white light”

The meditation continued with a suggestion of a form of standing that I immediately recognized as the power pose! I always use the power pose. I suggest it to my Kindergartners, my HS athletes, and myself. So, it made me laugh out loud to see it in my “Sitting Like A Saint roulette.”

I mean really, how much more perfect? Joan of Arc, courage, being covered in the light, love, and protection of God, breathing. and the power pose.

I took a few breathes, and then whispered with a chuckle “I just might have to cry uncle, and finally believe you’re protecting me.”

We shall see.

I am super grateful for these moments when my inside and outside life collide in a brilliant display of awesomeness and clear message. It’s very interesting. I’ve been experiencing it with some regularity in my teaching as well. I must pay a tad more attention to those moments so as to really hear them and allow them to inform my inner dialogue and sense of being.


I let this post sit for a bit before publishing it, and I’m so glad I did. While I was away I was reminded of my post from April 19. I quoted Ruth Ayers in that post — “the magic of story happens when a story is released into the world and it wraps around someone’s heart.” That is exactly what happened here! The story that the Gregory and Barbara Bottaro crafted and released into the world found its way — with all its magic and blessing — to me, and my heart. How cool is that?