A Reflection on the Burning of Notre Dame Cathedral
Fire. It is so devastating. I remember learning in high school about the vast wealth of knowledge that was lost when the Great Library of Alexandria burned over 2000 years ago. I recall the first time I traveled to Europe. We started in London and that was the first time I heard about the 1666 fire that completely changed the direction of that city while killing the rats that carried the fleas that caused the black plague. We just left Lisbon where there was an earthquake, and subsequent tsunami and devastating fire in 1755 which altered the course of design of buildings constructed after the quake. And recently, we watched in disbelief as the tower on Notre Dame Cathedral fell into the flames.
I never thought that an iconic monument to Christianity such as Notre Dame could be damaged by fire in today’s day and age. I guess I’m naïve to think that, but it survived over 8 centuries – I thought it would always be there, in the same state or better, than the 3 times I had the good fortune to visit. I am so grateful that we entered those doors, heard the organ, climbed the towers with our kids and pondered each gargoyle’s unique face. I am thankful beyond description that I have experienced the cathedral’s grandeur. Now, I trust that I will live to witness the strength of faith in God that it will take to rebuild this glorious church. Thankfully, the damage is not as bad as it might have been. But the future of this church will certainly be altered because of this significant marker in its history.
Why do we travel? Sometimes I do miss having a home, a place to call my own, and a regular routine. I enjoyed working in a rewarding career, attending church, exercising consistently, making dinners and participating in a community. We definitely miss seeing our friends. But we travel to experience the world and all it has to offer. We travel to hopefully make a difference in some way -- to learn, to grow, to participate in the global community and meet the people on this remarkable planet. We want to understand and appreciate the different cultures of the world. We are doing this now because, we don’t know what will happen tomorrow. If not now, when?
When you plant a tree, there is no guarantee you will live long enough to enjoy the shade it will provide one day. Most of the people who helped to build Notre Dame did not ever get to see its completion. In fact, the work of that church and others is not complete. It is a work in progress. We as people are also a work in progress. What we do know is that time marches on and we must make the most of it. We must plant seeds that will grow in ourselves and in others. We will see some of them sprout and flourish, but others may take more time than we have available. That doesn’t mean they won’t grow. But we must plant those seeds and water them well, and give them nourishment.
If you visited Notre Dame before the fire, you know how lucky you are. If you didn’t, that doesn’t mean you can’t still see this monument to faith – if you go to Paris, you will simply see a different phase of the life of this church than the one that came before it. I have seen churches all over Europe that were repaired after WWI and WWII. The fact that they were built in the first place is remarkable. The sadness over their destruction is palpable; but to be a witness to their reconstruction is inspiring. I imagine the rebuilding of Notre Dame will be similar. We may not live to see it return to its physical glory, but we can witness it move forward in its service to God. That seems like a good Easter message for us all.
So, I encourage you to travel now if you are able. It does cost money, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. It is an investment in life experience and one that profoundly transforms perspectives in a way that we can share. The more I travel, the more I find that the people of the world are really more alike than we are different. We love our families, we care for our communities, we have faith in our spiritual center and we want to make a positive difference. Travel is a privilege. We move within the world in order to share our experiences with others – those who travel and those who stay at home.
Are you planning a trip somewhere in Europe? We can help with that! Remember that we are always available to you and your friends and family for custom trip planning to Europe. We also still have spots available on our small group trip to Piedmont in October 2019! Would you like to join us? You can always reach Betsy at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to help you make your travel dreams to Europe come true!