Good evening followers, friends, and family. If you follow us on Facebook, you saw that we took a brief hiatus in light of the recent Notre Dame tragedy. Our, and specifically my, heart was in Paris. And in Paris it has stayed for the past few days… where it has relived beautiful memories and mourned the history and heritage destroyed by the flames.
When I was sixteen, I had the good fortune and parental push to become a People to People student ambassador. This journey took me from the Netherlands, through Belgium, on to France, and finally England.
We began in Amsterdam, then Belgium. From Belgium we went to France. I fell in love with the harbor town of Honfleur, France. The sailboats passing by combined with the narrow cobbled streets of the town center to sweep me off my feet. I long for Honfleur, even now. I fondly recall the breeze in my hair as I sat along the water, laughing and flirting with my peers. Those people are still my friends (Josie and Sam, in particular). But even before I walked along those cobbled streets, I walked through the streets of Paris until my feet hurt and my legs were sore. Yet I wanted to keep walking. There was so much to see. I recall the way it felt to climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower, to walk under the Arc de Triomphe, and to see, with utter disappointment, the true size of the Mona Lisa within the Louvre.
Let me prepare you if you go: The real Mona Lisa is only 30 inches tall and just under 21 inches wide. And under glass, and roped off so you can’t get close. HUGE LET DOWN.
But one thing I remember vividly about Paris is the Notre Dame Cathedral. I remember the way you can see it from the streets below and how desperately I wanted to be there. I remember staring at the stained glass windows and the spire, so beautiful and intricate, in wonder. Then I walked inside. And while there is so much to see within Notre Dame, I was in awe of the energy of the space. You see, I’ve always found myself particularly reverent of places of worship that have seen many generations pass through their doors. Prayer seems to leave it’s mark on a place, and in this place, I prayed several prayers of my own.
This past Monday, that beautiful spire and that reverent space burned. Reporters said it was like a giant torch, the way the flames leapt from it’s ceiling before the eventual collapse. And when I heard the news, sitting in my bed after staying home sick all day… I wept. I sobbed for the loss of Notre Dame, listening as reporters described the scene. I sobbed as videos of the flames began showing up online and a part of my heart fell with that spire. And when the crowd began singing Ave Maria as she burned, with men and women falling to their knees praying and weeping, I joined them, sobbing and praying from over 4,000 miles away. Even now, I write these words to you in tears.
Nearly 1000 years of history, gone in an instant. Did you know that every beam of that roof was carved from a different tree, by hand? Did you know that the cornerstone of Notre Dame was laid in 1163? Medieval trees in that ceiling, the stories they could tell if we’d just listened. Gone. My mother was born in Paris, on an American Army Base, in 1962. My grandmother didn’t get to to go the top of the Eiffel Tower, because she was pregnant. But she did go to Notre Dame. And I have stood beneath those same beams as several hundred generations before me. But my mother will not. Her grandchildren will not. And for that loss, dear readers, words cannot truly convey my grief. Even though millions have been promised for the reconstruction effort it will take years, and it will never, ever, be the same. I don’t know if my mother and I will even get to visit the bandaged Notre Dame when we go, and we will go, because reconstruction will take so long.
My heart is broken. My tears are still flowing.
Praying for Paris, once again.
On my lips: Burt’s Bees Original Beeswax Lip Balm
In my cup: Water