Notre Dame de Paris: Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD
Even as the flames raced up the spire, conclusions poured forth from social media. “It’s part of a left wing conspiracy linked to the vandalism of French churches.” “It’s God’s judgement on the French secular state.” On and on they went…
To be truthful, the fire that consumed so much of the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris, was simply a tragedy. Investigations will determine the cause, but it appears likely that it was an accident, possibly caused by a worker in the scaffolding. Yet, regardless of the findings, rest assured that the conspiracy theorists will continue.
It seems that when a tragedy occurs there will always be those who will look for a cause that is “outside of ourselves”.
Yet, even as internet pundits opined, those on the streets of Paris had a different reaction. There was stunned silence and then prayers and the singing of hymns. Like well trained grief counselors, they seemed to know instinctively that a time of tragedy does not call for explanations, but for comfort and faith.
For well over thirty years, year in and year out, Notre Dame has been a part of my life. Just a few weeks ago, I spent half a day wandering through the glorious interior of the Cathedral. I visited the Treasury and marveled at the centuries of devotion wrought in silver and gold, silk and parchment. I stopped in a side chapel and lit a candle, praying for my friend in southern Oregon.
Now it is gone, but not completely. A remnant remains. Those who prayed and sang hymns will now help in rebuilding. It will not be easy. It will call for commitment and sacrifice. It will not be rebuilt by talking about it, or blaming others for what has happened. Yet, stone by stone, day by day, it can be restored to its former glory.
As my friend in southern Oregon likes to say…
Make your own application.