Last winter, we were at the beautiful white sand beach in Naples Florida on April 15, 2019, when our phones lit up with the horrifying news that Notre-Dame de Paris was on fire.
Immediately my thoughts flew to my first visit there many years go. I recalled the awe with which I wandered around the great cathedral, entranced by its ancient spiritual aura, beyond religion to the deepest, most mysterious meaning of life.
The sounds of the cathedral contributed to my reverence, for most of the voices spoke in languages I hardly understood, in Latin or in French...and in a way I never appreciated before, the very incomprehensibility (I hope that is a word) created a solitude in me that enhanced my emotional reactions. I have never forgotten that experience.
When we returned home from the beach, we switched on the tv and of course were immediately immersed in the tragedy in Paris. Even the grandchildren were engrossed by the pictures and commentary. We watched the intricately carved wooden spire burn and collapse, over and over again.
As the days passed, we were all pleased to hear Notre-Dame would be restored and/or repaired. Some places were not as severely damaged as once feared. Compare the pictures below with the first picture from my visit in 2014 at the top of this blog.
Nevertheless, the damage was horrendous.
Rose windows and other stained glass creations were mostly saved.
When I returned from Florida to Milwaukee I scoured my picture files for views of Notre-Dame. I even found a few old slides from the days of 35 mm. Kodak camera. Below, a few of the more recent shots, from a steamy day in Paris in 2014 when the Cathedral was delightfully cool, though crowded with visitors. Nevertheless, I managed lots of pictures without a soul in evidence.
I wonder if the wooden model was saved?
I wonder if I will ever see Notre-Dame de Paris completed? Since I spend my time aboard mostly in England, perhaps not...but I have my memories. A bientot!
Victoria Hinshaw, Author