“O Lord hear my prayer; O Lord hear my prayer…”
This week the fire at Notre Dame in Paris has devastated many. Known as Our Lady of Paris, her towering presence on the banks of the river Seine has been an icon for more than eight hundred years. She has stood as witness to wars, treaties, celebrations, schism, and high holy days.
For France a national treasure. For the Church she has been a witness to the glory of God in worship and art. The windows in Notre Dame have told the story of God becoming known as the ‘poor man’s Bible’. The images of flames consuming the oak roof and the falling spire have caused us to raise our voices in shock and lament.
Many have connected with the magnificence of this structure as tourists who gazed at the statue of Joan of Arc and the high altar, students studying abroad, or through fiction that awakened the imagination. For whatever reason, the visceral connection with Our Lady of Paris is there.
During this Holy Week, I wonder if the cathedral hasn’t come to represent all for whom we mourn; personally, and globally. This is a week as we make our solemn journey to the cross, we mourn for many. A friend sent me this eloquent reflection.
I mourn Notre Dame and pause
to wash my aching feet after the long trek to Paris.
I mourn each black church
burned to the ground and pause to huddle in dark pines and sing softly with
I mourn the damage to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and pause
to pray on my knees with lost and scattered members.
I mourn Aleppo and pause
to wipe away the tears in the eyes of children who no longer play.
I mourn the wrecked Amazon and pause
to wait for another species to become extinct.
I mourn the oil slicked beaches, their wildlife and pause
to scrub another blackened duckling with dish detergent.
I mourn the Warsaw Ghetto and pause
to wonder in the burned silence of the knave where all the destruction,
terror, pain, and death we cause in this fragile world.
During this Holy Week, pause often and bow.