Notre-Dame de Paris.
Fire as a Symbol of Evil. Wake up world. Wake up!
The images of the Cathedral of Notre Dame burning were heartbreaking. We could not bear to watch it, nor could we look away. Mercifully, no one was killed. And miraculously, while hundreds of firefighters fought the blaze, others rescued invaluable art and religious artifacts by forming a human chain passing them out to safety. There was heroism, and a passion for the medieval gothic cathedral that has come to symbolize of course Catholicism but also hope and intrinsic beauty for the people of France, and so many others.
We watched as the main spire, enveloped in flames, fell in seeming slow mo’ and then crashed through the roof. It was horrifying. Centuries of “humanity” were burning along with the Cathedral.
It’s hard to get that image out of our minds. It seemed to be a surreal vision holding some greater meaning. Perhaps it was.
For those who hold religious beliefs, here is where your respective God fits in, and for others, please insert your guiding principles here. Is there a greater message? Was this a giant “hand clap” to get our attention?
Could the brush with destruction of Notre Dame symbolically represent the current danger of eroding cultures in societies around the world? Are we being asked to also process the indelible images of other atrocities that are before our eyes--in France, in New Zealand, in Yemen, in Great Britain, in Africa, in Venezuela, in peaceful Sweden, in so many places around the world, and surely in the United States of America. Children being shot down in their schools, worshipers murdered in their synagogues, churches and mosques. Churches burned, hate speak being woven through the threads of society and into our daily lives. Immigrants to our country barred, turned away—children ripped from parents’ arms! While at the same time, there are some immigrants living comfortably within our country, and homegrown others, that are indoctrinated in hate-filled ideologies. Waiting, planning and plotting against the goodness within us.
We have lost our way.
I believe the reaction to the burning of the Cathedral of Notre Dame extends well beyond its historical and religious significance and beauty. Its guardians did not adequately assess the risk to the Cathedral. Similarly, we have been derelict in our much broader obligation to protect our evolved “humanity” for future generations. We must look at this. And then we must look in the mirror.
More than money will be required to restore the Cathedral. Just as vigils, singing, money, and “our thoughts and prayers” will never be enough for the collective “us” to get back on a righteous path (You insert the meaning of righteous here.)
When I first began thinking of the fire in this way, I reached out to Meryl Spiegel to see if she had a suitable photograph of Notre-Dame that I could feature. I knew Meryl had been to Paris last April, and I felt sure that she would have a photo that would “speak to me,” and in fact she did. When Meryl sent this photo, she said she hoped it would work as the Cathedral is well-hidden by the blossoms that dominate the foreground of the image. She sent it because she felt that the blossoms represent renewal. I also love this pre-fire photo of the Cathedral because it forces us to search for it through the beautiful blossoms—that for me, as for Meryl, symbolize hope for the future, renewal and rebirth. And it all comes full circle.