Unless you spent your day under a car in your garage trying to replace a suspension part, you might have seen that the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris largely burned today. At least much of the old, wooden structure. And by old I mean 850 years old.
It’s tragic. Mercifully no one died, and the larger structure, made of stone, is in tact. The French will rebuild it and I would suspect in 10 years there will be a gleaming new interior, and well, roof.
Speaking of the roof, the cathedral was undergoing a 20 year renovation. There was plenty of scaffolding and work being done in the area of the roof. I would hate that a worker’s cigarette butt or arc welder set the blaze off. I would guess there are some nervous construction workers having a few at a local bar right now.
Those of you that read this blog know we try to post what happened on this day in years past. And so I looked. I wasn’t going to post anything, too tired to think really, but the fire in Paris made me stop and consider the day in history posts we do.
The things we mention HAPPENED. Yet it’s hard to really appreciate the events when you just read some text on a wikipedia page. It’s abstract.
Yet the things that happened on April 15 in history make today’s fire look almost inconsequential. It’s not for us, in the moment, but in 100 years, the entry will just read “church was damaged by fire.” It will still be a church.
You want to know what else happened April 15? Lincoln died from his gunshot injuries in 1865. The Titanic sunk, killing more than 1500 people. Jackie Robinson debuts for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. 96 Liverpool fans die in the Hillsborough disaster in the FA cup in 1989. They were mostly crushed. The Boston Marathon bombings occur in 2013, killing three and injuring more than 200. Oh and on the 16th for good measure, more than 6000 Germans die on the German transport Goya, sunk by a Russian sub.
And on and on.
In fact, the Wikipedia page already has the Notre Dame fire noted.
And it will become a line in a history book.
But for those there, for the Parisians watching their beloved cathedral burn, the event will never simply be an entry in a journal.
And that is true for the events in our lives, in our communities. We all experience profound moments, gut punches, sorrow. Joy too. We are the owners of our experiences. Today was a big one for many, many people.
Makes me think reminding you about what happened in history somehow rings hollow.
So pray, if you pray, for the French. Not for the building really. It’s a building. But rather for the connection people had with it, the sudden loss of that connection, for the convulsing instant that suddenly defines a “before and after” for Notre Dame.
Sh*t happened today. It will again tomorrow. And around we will go.
And that is the redemptive part. We move forward. No matter the event. The French lost part of an iconic building today. They did not lose a life, or their pride, or their sense of community, or their resolve. Notre Dame will rise from the ashes. There will be no other way. It’s what we do.
And I bet there is a construction worker REALLY ready to volunteer to help.