Grand Dame

April 16, 2019

At some point, I suppose I will be willing to seek out news of what remains if anything of the 850-year-old cathedral, Notre Dame.  I'm not there yet.


As many of you know I chose to stop watching or listening to the news almost 11 years ago now.  But as I typically reply when questioned about that decision, "If it's a big story, I see it on Facebook."  Yesterday my feed was filled with photographs and harder yet to bear, video of the historic, landmark structure, burning.  


My first reaction, coming from the life-long Catholic as well as the passionate lover of history and awe, was one of shock and disbelief.  I had a visceral reaction of sadness, deep in my gut like I was punched.  And so it was...and so it is.


I remember stepping away from my desk yesterday afternoon, mindfulness tools kicking in, acknowledging the pain and sorrow I was feeling for many reasons.  I was reminded then of something I have studied deeply and that's the impermanence of everything.  Everything.  Structures and us, included.  


I found the higher parts of me, consoling the saddened parts of me.  Letting me know in the gentlest of ways that this was part of the cycle of life, things come and things go and no amount of thinking, hand-wringing or excessive television watching about it, would make what happened yesterday, go away. 


I didn't and don't need to know why, although my mind went there not long after the sadness kicked in.  It's just like us humans wanting to know, understand and control but those weren't options I wished to entertain yesterday. 


Instead, I decided to quietly accept what happened, certainly not desire the outcome in any way but I know if I mentally argue with the reality that the fire happened and the damage is done, I will suffer deeper and longer.  Life is too short to mentally flog yourself over and over about reality.


I, worked with what I was feeling in my own way, I began by paying homage to the thousands of souls who built and have cared for that sacred space since the 12th century.  I honored those who had the chance to revel in her beauty like my daughter, Katherine (thank God) since I will never see what she did.  


And finally, I understood that although I was deeply moved witnessing what I did yesterday, whether Notre Dame stood there or not, my faith, my belief in something greater than myself, didn't waver. No matter how many devastating things I saw, my faith didn't incur any level of destruction, if anything, my faith in both a higher power and my own abilities to navigate life increased as I fell into that state of acceptance and honoring.


God bless that unbelievably, incredible structure and all the lives it's touched over so many centuries and like me, Jennifer Raybaud in the year 2019, all the lives it continues to touch, even those of us never privileged enough to have stepped a single foot through her doors.   




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