In 1989 I lived in Paris. Notre Dame, which sits on an island in the city, was central to my life – it was the landmark I used to chart my path in the city; it was the view at night outside the library window of Shakespeare & Co. where I lived for several weeks that summer. A medieval icon that took 100 years to build and has stood for over 700 years.
One evening I was in the church as the music of Bach played on the organ. I sat on a stone ledge – all the seats were full. Others sat on the floor. We were in silence. Bach’s music, motets and oratorios, flowed to us and ascended. Notre Dame is place of worship, a place of gathering, a kind of home for everyone.
Outside and above, gargoyles keep watch over the city. The stories of the Last Judgment, Adam and Eve, and Michael’s measuring of souls are told by iconography on the exterior. The martyr Saint Denis holds his head and continues to preach.
On April 16th, Notre Dame burned. The spire collapsed. The wooden roofs turned to ash. The stone remains.
Now we await the resurrection.