Rebuild, but First, Cry
Notre Dame burned today. 900 years of permanence collapsed in an hour. Much was saved though; the majority of the structure still stands. We watched as a world knowing we could do nothing except pray, sing and let the firefighters fight. Would its entirety crumble to the ground? The north towers and rose windows and buttresses? Those are some great buttresses.
I thought of the stands of postcards in the lobby, of all things. Where I didn’t buy any because they seemed passé.
I thought, “At least we still have Sainte-Chappelle.” We still have 12th century glass windows that have survived longer than our current civilization.
We crave permanence even though it’s impossible. We change everyday, we roll with the punches and we hold onto our world as best we can. Days like these remind us of how little we can control and it’s completely unnerving. There’s a true feeling of sorrow for the loss of a place to which we may have no connection. I’ve visited twice and have the “watch out for scammers and pickpockets and thieves in front of Notre Dame” warning seared into my brain.
My first visit was in a September on study abroad and I had my Parisian thrift store men’s brimmed hat on and we met a rando who wanted to hang with us. (We politely went on our way.)
I went again nearly two years ago and we made it inside because of mass, though the tour lines had closed. Four years had passed and my iPhone 4 had become a 6 and I could actually take pictures of the interior.
I was only going to mention Notre Dame and then get on my way but there’s a lesson in today. Although we know the French have digital renderings and the resources to rebuild, and it will be rebuilt, there’s no denying the sadness of today. My motto for the past few years has been “All feelings are valid.” after deciding even though my sad nights often ended the next morning, that night was still hard. My feelings of loneliness or confusion or fear were real and mean something, even if the next morning I’ve moved on to a new day. Seeing the spire tumble into flames was horror. It’ll rise again, but we can feel the reality of that moment. And it’s valid to post study abroad pictures today. If I was fortunate enough to see the world, even in a cliche way, I’ll be grateful.
I do my best writing without overthinking, which is why my last post was therapeutic. Thank you for reading and for sending me love and encouraging me to keep writing. One day I’ll figure out what to write but I’ll start here first. xo