As I was watching the télé while flames and smoke engulfed my favorite and most beloved monument in Paris, Notre Dame, my heart was breaking. With tears in my eyes, I watched, while I was so wanting not to. How can one watch something so sad, so tragic, so devastating? Yet I was compelled and driven to catch every word that was being said, every scene that was being shown, perhaps hoping against all hope that it was all a bad dream, or that it would stop and everything would be ok. I was praying that the destruction of beauty and grace, history and symbolism, structure and spirit would not be for naught.
So, as the hours wore on while Our Lady burned, I kept grasping for reason, for reasons, for reasoning to take over. Grasping for meaning in the tragedy that was playing out before my very eyes. Each time some thought about the why of it, the purpose of it, entered my mind, with horror I dispelled it, as what possible reason or meaning could be found in such a catastrophe?
I went to bed with a heavy heart, and slept.
In the light of a rainy morning, I woke with a start – Notre Dame burned last night! Looking out the window, watching the rain, I began to “see” more clearly. Water is cleansing, Fire is transformative. Alchemy happens when one thing turns into another after a process of the death, in a sense, of the one thing to allow for the birth of the other. Like metal transforms through fire into a tool, or coal becomes a diamond, or a fetus becomes a human, or a tree becomes a house. One thing must be lost for the next to appear. I began to look at the world around me…everywhere chaos, rebellion, division, unhappiness, revolution, entrenchment into various positions and viewpoints. What can break through these stand offs among us? What can reach into the pool of reasoning and pull out compromise and understanding between people? What can create a common ground upon which to stand? What can bring us together again?
That I am in France, amongst the French people as this event of epic proportions is unfolding, is no accident. The love that I have for this country and these people, feels so palpable, and the grief so real. The feeling that I am truly connected with them is, in some strange way, comforting. What I am hoping is that this consuming, destructive Fire will provide the basis for a new connection among people; a common ground from which will rise a structure that will blend the old with the new, and give people renewed hope and identity. At this time of Easter, a symbolic time of resurrection, new life, new beginnings, new possibility, may our hearts be imbued with that message even if our consciousness may not grasp it. May our hearts leap with joy at the opportunity to rise from the ashes of our self-destructive ways and feel love once again. May this Fire, in the end, be for good, for transformation, for rebirth of a new age of consciousness, cooperation, and caring among us all.