I have never been there.
I have heard stories, by family and friends, for more than four decades, of extraordinary majesty and beauty, sitting in the heart of Paris.
Seated now in ash, Notre Dame awaits the future, having survived wars great and awful, the depredations of monarchs and despots, and the seething anger of revolutionaries. It has endured too, the attention of so many devotees and others.
Already this morning, several friends who know the lady have spoken reverentially, and with sadness. Tales of soloists in the cathedral, echoing the voice of heaven; of sitting and waiting for God to speak; of marvelling at an inspired imagination, and those several artisans who could make hope real.
Perhaps they may build again, or restore, but it will never be the same. There will be photos and drawings for ever, but never enough to capture its entirety.
There will, wonderfully, be stories, like the ones my friends are telling. In that way, a building becomes alive, not because of stones, but through awe and worship and wonder.
In this week, of all weeks, this holy week, when we live and tell our experience of the crucified, and risen, Christ. In this week, of all weeks, our story is one of what God has imagined and brought to reality; and we bear that story in our lives.
Let us tell it well, because all is changed, all made new.
Rev. Simon Hansford is the Moderator of the UCA Synod of NSW and the ACT.
This piece first appeared on Simon’s blog Through A Stained Fence.
Image: Courtesy of AAP.