The first miracle of Monday’s devastating fire at Notre Dame is that the 856-year old structure remains standing.
The second is that her precious relics – including the crown of thorns – survived.
And the third miracle (because we Catholics like to do things in threes) is that, thanks to the quick response of Parisian firefighters and a groundswell of global financial support, that proud cathedral will rise again.
Resiliency is the hallmark of any great city, and Paris boasts that in spades.
For example, we arrived for our trip-of-a-lifetime to Paris in June of 2016, almost exactly a year after the attack on Charlie Hebdo and seven months past the coordinated shootings at the Stade de France stadium and the Bataclan Concert Hall. A swollen Seine stood empty of traffic, thanks to historic flooding, and the city’s transit system and trash collections were dicey, due to a national strike.
But, Parisian’s rallied, elegantly shook off the water and fear, and welcomed us tourists with warm croissants and hot Gypsy jazz. We rose early that first morning, and walked straight to Notre Dame, the first stop on a jam-packed trip that we’ll treasure for the rest of our lives.
Just like everyone else, I watched with horror Monday as that gorgeous spire toppled in flames. For a moment, it reminded me of two other horrible topplings that happened on September 11 here on our soil.
But, then I saw the goosebump-raising videos of Parisians singing in the shadow of those enormous flames and I knew that the city and its heart would be okay.
This is Holy Week in the Catholic faith and the specific days in it trace a journey of faith, sacrifice, grief and resurrection.
How beautiful, then, to see a similar journey through the metaphor of Notre Dame.