Throughout the day, friends and family were connecting on social media and offering their pictures and memories of their experiences in those hallowed halls, even as we collectively watched the firefighters struggle to save it. We also saw international leaders publicly offering their words of disbelief, lament and condolences as they attempted to make sense of what was unfolding. As I write today, masses of people are still gathered in front of the cathedral, sitting vigil, singing, grieving, and holding one another close as they process this historic tragedy.
Experts and government leaders seem to quickly be offering their thoughts on how long it will take to rebuild. We know it will take quite some time. Amidst the heartfelt and generous pledges of those resolving to rebuild quickly, there are voices reminding us that Notre-Dame will never be exactly as it was before. A new chapter in history is unfolding before our very eyes. So, there is good reason to pause, mourn for this sacred space and reflect on what it was and what it has represented for centuries.
I hope we will also pause and notice the collective response we have witnessed these past two days around the globe. In a time when division, disaster and turmoil seem to continually make the headlines, we are less frequently reminded of what is still lovely, admirable or praiseworthy - let alone encouraged to take time to "think on these things”. Notre-Dame allowed us to do that this week.
Today, Paris may not find people filling Notre-Dame’s interior halls, but it will find people surrounding Notre-Dame with love. In this Holy Week, an awe-inspiring Cathedral has brought people of all generations together once more - in wonder, in worship and in remembrance.
Marvel Hitson serves as ICTG's Director of Congregational Health & Trauma Chaplain.
Marvel has been based out of the Montecito Center alongside the HOPE 805 Team & other community partners supporting Santa Barbara County in the aftermath of the Thomas Fire and Debris Flows. She is currently working towards long term recovery through Riviera Care Center Project in collaboration with the Community Wellness Team.