An Ode to Notre-Dame de Paris
Watching the inferno rage inside the Notre-Dame cathedral yesterday was heart breaking. After getting the CNN alert on my phone, I rushed to turn on the TV. But after several minutes, I couldn’t watch anymore. The images of the burning inferno erupting from within her were too much. I couldn’t handle the feeling of helplessness combined with sadness at the impending disaster.
The sense of loss still overwhelms me even though we now know that the façade is safe and as President Macron said last night: “We will rebuild.” Nevertheless, even as I write this blog post, tears are streaming down my face.
I grew up in Paris and while we didn’t live near Notre-Dame, as a practicing catholic family back then (now lapsed), we did attend Mass there on “big event” occasions like Easter and Christmas.
My local Parisian church was very conveniently located directly across the street from our apartment in the 6eme arrondissment on Place St. Sulpice. L’Eglise St. Sulpice is the second largest church in Paris, after Notre-Dame, and was featured in The Da Vinci Code. It’s best known for its mismatched towers and the gorgeous Delacroix murals inside.
I’m heading to Paris on Friday and will be there for Easter Sunday. I’m very blessed to be staying at a friend’s apartment on the Quai aux Fleurs which is right around the corner from Notre-Dame. When I emerge from the subway, my normal route to the apartment is to walk across the plaza right in front of the cathedral. I imagine the area immediately surrounding the church will be cordoned off. However, I’m looking forward to standing as close to Notre-Dame as possible to give thanks for past visits and to pray for the successful reconstruction efforts.
During my last trip to Paris back in 2016, I took a bunch of pictures of Notre-Dame and assembled a little slideshow for you below. She’s such an iconic part of the landscape that it’s impossible to take a bad picture of her.
Why is this cathedral so meaningful for so many? I think it comes down to our deep attachment to history, to buildings that have survived great wars, and to architecture that’s stunning in its beauty and majesty. Notre-Dame is 850 years old and every detail of her elegance was crafted by hand, an endeavor that took nearly 200 years to complete. Processing the effort required to build her and the enormity of the task is almost impossible in today’s age of instant messaging and machine engineering.
I’m eager to go see her, even in her damaged state. A little voice inside my heart hopes that part of Easter Mass will be held outside, near her somewhere, where we can assemble in tribute and give thanks for her grace. We’ll see. I’ll let you know next week.
In closing, if you’ve been waiting to pursue your personal creativity, I urge you: Don’t wait! Find the time for it, no matter what form your creativity may take. You know that my tag line is: It’s Never Too Late To Create and I still believe that. But yesterday’s events reminded me that life is fleeting. So please don’t wait too long…
It’s Never Too Late to Create
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My creative inspiration comes from a lifetime of observation living in, and traveling to, beautiful environments in the United States and abroad.