Six Days Later and Tomorrow


A picture taken on April 16, 2019, shows the altar surrounded by charred debris inside the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris in the aftermath of a fire that devastated the building. The Atlantic, Online

First news reports from Paris after the fire pictured the glow of the Cross. And, that is a truly astounding image, to be sure, especially during Holy Week. But I focus on the Madonna in the forefront of the Cross. While her child, her Son, Jesus, lay in her lap like a heavy cloth draped over her, she looks up, hands upturned. She isn't gripping her child, moaning and crying over him. She seems to be letting go of him.


The other piece of this image for me is the rubble before the Madonna and the Cross. Eight-hundred-year-old wood charred and laying like a pile of toothpicks on the floor. Stone and pipes added, who knows when, cast about as if they were a child's toys.


It seems like such chaos.


While the fire at Notre Dame is beyond tragic, perhaps the lessons here are more than just "How did this happen?"and "How will we rebuild?" Maybe the true things we might carry with us are the enduring image of a mother letting go of her son, a woman allowing her child to grow beyond her, even in death, trusting in the rebuilding or the Resurrection of his Spirit. Remember, she watched the chaos of His trial, the walk carrying timber that would lead to His death, only to stand helpless as his spirit left his body. And yet, it is as if she is holding up the very structure of the Church.


As I ready myself for a long flight into the night, only to land in Rome tomorrow where brilliant natural light will grace other timbers, other stones, other faces. To be sure, there is light that graced the Roman Forum, the River Tiber, Trastavere, and so many other places of tragedy and chaos.


And yet, this image reminds me that the places that have been hidden in darkness for so long, now have a chance to be seen in natural light. Notre Dame will be rebuilt, her roof closed up again, but for a brief time images such as this one, give us the opportunity to see in a more realistic light, the light of day.

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