We’re, all of us, having a second. Watching the gorgeous cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris apparently consumed by hearth brings everybody up brief: French or not, Christian or not, Catholic or not.
As we watched the conflagration, slack-jawed on our smartphones, we had been all of a sudden confronted with any variety of uncomfortable ideas: Nothing lasts. Life is transitory. Permanence is an phantasm. Is that this the top?
Structure has this energy: What conjures up us may undo us. The ability that Notre-Dame has exercised over humanity was dropped at a head on Monday, nearly 700 years after this cathedral marking the middle of Paris was devoted in 1345. One of many Gothic cathedrals that for hundreds of years has outlined Western tradition appeared to go up like a bonfire at a Texas A&M pep rally.
And we had been introduced up brief. Undone.
We Need One thing That Lasts
Why is that? No lives had been misplaced. One firefighter was reported badly injured—when it comes to human price, this hardly even counts as information, not to mention a tragedy. However all of us sense the tragedy of it, whilst we cling to the hope that Notre-Dame could be rebuilt, should be rebuilt, can be rebuilt. What was misplaced? Absolutely some very superb and really previous carpentry in a cathedral’s attic that solely upkeep staff ever see. Probably some irreplaceable artworks (studies are nonetheless incomplete); definitely some irreplaceable craftsmanship.
Nevertheless it’s greater than misplaced carpentry, isn’t it, that we mourn? We mourn the violation (by hearth! throughout Holy Week!) of a sacred house, a logo of the common church, despite the fact that within the current second that church is neither common nor universally regarded. We mourn the destruction of an area so stunning that to explain it in phrases makes the perfect writers despair of their impoverished vocabularies. We mourn that nothing lasts. We wish one thing to final.
There’s a giant and leafy department of evangelical Christianity that thinks the burning of Notre-Dame is an object lesson: Nothing on this earth will final, it’s all simply going to burn ultimately. I strongly disagree, each within the common sense (there are human works that can someway accompany us into the brand new Jerusalem) and within the specific sense (the burning of Notre-Dame is just not a lesson; it’s a tragedy—a full-stop tragedy the place no lives had been misplaced). Notre-Dame was and is a pillar—no, a pinnacle—of human civilization, and on April 15 we noticed this pinnacle seemingly destroyed earlier than our eyes, and it was an excessive amount of for many people. Solely a real Philistine may say of the fireplace, “Ah, it was just a bunch of wood and shingles and some pointy spire.”
The burning of Notre-Dame is just not a lesson; it’s a tragedy—a full-stop tragedy the place no lives had been misplaced.
Gratitude for Items
I’m hopeful Notre-Dame’s sturdy stone partitions will survive the fireplace, the drenching, and the following publicity to climate. I’m hopeful the engineers will quickly decide that the cathedral could be rebuilt. And I’m hopeful the Catholic church, so buffeted by Western progress and its personal missteps, will see match to rebuild one in all its most necessary websites. Having seen pictures of German cathedrals after World Struggle II, I’m assured this work could be finished, and hopeful it is going to be. And I’m cautiously hopeful than no world-famous architect can be enlisted to “modernize” what was misplaced within the hearth, which might solely compound the tragedy of fireside.
As one who has a private 9/11 story (I used to be airborne that morning), I’ve realized to understand daily as a present. Paris is a present. Notre-Dame is a particular present, one which we have now loved, appreciated, and been astonished by for practically 700 years. On April 15 we realized (once more) that presents must be appreciated, that they need to by no means be taken as a right, that they’ll actually be taken away.
And this Holy Week reminds us once more of the one present, and the one Giver, that can’t.