Heart and Soul

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


I have to admit that I was disappointed over CBS’s recent cancellation of their prime time drama series, Joan of Arcadia. While I do think that the story line has weakened, there’s a part of me that will miss the chance to watch Joan gab with God as she moves through her college years and into her adult life.

For those unfamiliar with the family oriented program, it is based on the premise that God (under the guise of everyday men, women and children) regularly appears to a typical teenage girl (Joan). These appearances are timed to deliver life defining messages and instructions to Joan, relative to problems she’s facing. When the teen wisely deciphers the messages and/or follows the instructions she is, in turn, graced with invaluable life lessons.

Now there’s no question that this show is for the soft of heart. Reality TV junkies, or cops and robbers fans need not tune in, for Joan is all about suspending belief in the real world and accepting the television "reality" that God chooses to walk, talk, and advise people right here on earth.

Being a romantic and Irish Catholic to boot, I have no trouble suspending my belief in the real world. It’s the part about God advising people, face to face, that has placed me in a quandary during the program’s two-year run.

In Joan’s initial season, I found the series interesting and often amusing in the way the show’s writers creatively intersected teen and Creator. Yet by year two, the idea that the Almighty might actually take the time to meet and greet people for the purpose of changing their lives started to settle into my brain.

Suddenly halfway through the second season I began experiencing "encounters" with people where, afterwards, my mind suggested that perhaps that person had been a messenger of God, or even God her/himself. On occasion these chance meetings almost seemed to be in direct answer to a question or problem with which I was struggling, really sending my thought process into overdrive.

Now being of reasonably sound mind, I never mentioned my "Joan type" encounters to family or friends. No sense giving them ammunition, I figured. Rather, I continued to keep my own counsel, thoughtfully analyzing each time it seemed that God might have appeared in my life.

Then last week, my daughter told me about a walk she took in her neighborhood. Along the way, a little girl she’d never seen before approached her. The child was followed immediately by a man who identified himself as her father.

Being a kind person, my daughter stopped to chat. Being in need, the father immediately and urgently began talking about his family and recent challenges they’d faced. As my daughter listened, she noticed that the man seemed to be lightening his emotional burden with every word. Moments later, when they parted company, the man then genuinely thanked her for her time.

As my daughter finished telling me this story, she said, "You know Mom, when I walked away I felt as if I was in one of those Joan of Arcadia shows. It almost seemed as this man and his child were sent to remind me how lucky I am."

Like I said, I’m disappointed that Joan of Arcadia has been cancelled….but then again, in the end, maybe the broadcast of a prime time TV show wasn’t really what it was all about.
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