Today may have religious significance for you, or may be a simple Sunday 6 days after the fire in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France.
I wanted to connect because whoever you are, whatever your faith or lack of faith, you may have been affected by the fierce fire that attacked this sanctuary of devotion, built in 1163, that has offered herself to the world for over 800 years.
Even today, decades later, I remember the overpowering feeling that poured on and from me when I entered. I am not Catholic, nor even “religious.” No worries. Notre Dame’s Blessings are freely given to all, regardless of belief.
Monday the world watched as fire consumed faith in real-time on TV. Parisians lit candles and sang prayers in the street as the iconic 750-ton Spire toppled in flames.
I was shaken and wondered if watching Notre Dame burn was an exquisitely terrible metaphor for our troubled times.
I prepared to grieve yet another loss of a symbol of our better angels.
Then on Tuesday I awoke to images of the interior of the magestic nave and saw wooden chairs still in neat rows, votive candles lit by worshippers the day before still flickering in their sconces, the stone statues powerfully secure on the chancel illuminated by a beautiful rose window.
The masterpieces of Notre Dame are it’s stone and glasswork. All three great medieval Rose Windows miraculously survived as tons of burning debris and molten lead fell. One 40’ wide expanse of glass held together by soft lead endured with minimal damage. The stonework was also preserved. Engineers have inspected the structure; there is no danger of collapse.
Scholars believe that the architects of Notre Dame
were not only building a monument but were also fully aware that they were erecting a metaphor for the sacred in life, past, present, future.
My personal downer metaphor and anticipated grief were premature.
The fire in Notre Dame has sparked another metaphor within me of renewed hope as a citizen of our shared world.
The survival of Notre Dame and its promised rebuilding
have given me the unexpected gift of remembering:
The heat of a consuming fire can also be a purification
out of which the new can emerge.
Resist underestimating the resilience of that which
is strong and true; trust more.
Search actively for the sacred in everyday life, today.