Notre Dame, the iconoclastic symbology of Paris and the steadfast traditional western values of 25 generations Notre Dame of Parisians, is on fire. While not her first, it is yet to be seen if it will be her last. The glorious spire that overlooked human evolution since 1260 has fallen.
Our Lady presided over Paris’s tumultuous times. She stood silent on St Bartholomew’s day as Huguenot blood ran freely through the streets. Her doors welcomed all during the Black Plague and drew witness to the loss of 50,000 Parisians.
She ushered in the age of the Renaissance, Scientific Inquiry and the revolution of Italian architecture.
She provided a protective shadow over a castle and kings palace that became the world’s most renown museum, just across the bank.
She wept with joy when Paris joined the Republican struggles for independence in the New World. She stoically stood aside as France’s growing liberal preference for the sovereignty of the individual superseded the conviction of a god willed hereditary sovereign. She mischievously gaped at the ensuing murderous Republican revolution at home while sardonically mocking the severed heads of those who ensured the success of the Colonies Republic.
She presided over Napoleon’s coronation sweeping in a renewed era of incessant warfare on the European continent.
She proudly overlooked the construction of Eiffel’s marvel.
When Hitler’s Army’s marched through the Arc de Triomph, she shuddered.
She’s ministered as muse and mistress to legions of famous and not so famous artists and is the source of inspiration for many a penitent.
Of late she shed tears watching satirical cartoonists massacred at their desks and Paris plundered asunder with the renewed parochial divisions across its many quarters. She also stands bemused to see the destructive Yellow Vest rioters decrying the fruits of the very policies their progenitors advocated on their behalf.
A tired old Dame?
Perhaps Our Lady has tired of witnessing man’s stupidity and inhumanity to its fellow man. Maybe she has opted out of the end of this cycle of drama and suffering to avoid overseeing the inevitable coming global crises as darkened storm clouds of the future gather. While we surely will endure the endless conspiracy theories about the source of her immolation, the terrorist or the errant electrical spark, perhaps it was she, with sheer will of exhausted force, who was behind the act. Her final act of grace.
Whether she is rebirth by the modern age unwilling or unable to care for her ancient medieval towers, arches and buttresses is to be seen. Will Our Lady be no more, a sarcophagus of her former self? Or, will she rise from the ashes, like a phoenix, to superintend another 800 years of human drama, this time filled with exultant glory and triumph of the human will for good over our more base nature. The future, as always, is ours to mold. May we do it well. For this day, we are all Parisians.
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