Tags: notre dame | cathedral | travel | fire

Notre Dame Fire Sparks Desire to Travel

Notre Dame Fire Sparks Desire to Travel
Notre-Dame Cathedral with Saint Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris, seen in the foreground following a major fire on Monday, on April 17, 2019 in Paris, France. A fire broke out on Monday afternoon and quickly spread across the building, causing the famous spire to collapse. The cause is unknown but officials have said it was possibly linked to ongoing renovation work. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

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Wednesday, 17 April 2019 03:36 PM Current | Bio | Archive

“If I asked you about art, you'd probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life's work, political aspirations…but I'll bet you can't tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel…I'd ask you about love, you'd probably quote me a sonnet. But you've never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. You don't know about real loss, 'cause it only occurs when you've loved something more than you love yourself.”

That timeless quote by Robin Williams’ character in "Good Will Hunting" perfectly illustrates why traveling is so important. As the devasting fire at Notre Dame Cathedral has demonstrated, we never know when history’s greatest treasures will be irrevocably altered, or worse, disappear forever.

Yes, the Cathedral will be rebuilt, but it will never be the same.

Much of its overwhelming grandeur, charm, and incomparable status as a Parisian icon have now been lost to history. Every single person lost a part of their humanity with this catastrophe, just as they would if the Wailing Wall, Big Ben, Blue Mosque, Taj Mahal, or the Dome of the Rock were lost. Losing masterpieces which epitomize the very best of the human spirit is cataclysmic, not only because such chef-d'œuvres can never be duplicated, but because it was on our watch that something vanished which had stood the test of time.

Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, atheist — it didn’t matter. Upon entering that magnificent church, the only requirement to gasp in awe was a soul. Perhaps most striking was the whispered quiet that enveloped the air, a silence not borne from rules or etiquette, but because your breath had literally been taken away. Notre Dame was not a place you simply “saw,” and people were not merely visitors. Instead, all thirteen million who graced the Cathedral each year became honorary “parishioners” welcomed with open arms (after all, Catholic means “universal”) to behold the wonderment that took 182 years to construct.

Those who walked its cavernous aisles and strained their necks looking skyward became a physical part of its essence, mesmerized by every facet, some dating back to its opening in 1345: hand-laid mosaics; impossibly intricate woodcarvings; ornate stonework; indelible sculptures; priceless frescoes; an 8,000 pipe organ; revolutionary flying buttresses; a legendary hunchback; and yes, even the Crown of Thorns purportedly worn by Jesus Christ himself. It was where King Henry VI was crowned in 1431, and, in more “modern” times, where Napoleon was crowned Emperor of France in 1804. And it survived the ravages of the Dark Ages, French Revolution, two World Wars, and even foiled terror plots.

And that was just the beginning.

Notre Dame exhibited different personalities throughout the day and season, from solemn to triumphant. All were unique, but perhaps most breathtaking was the vista from across the river. The City of Lights showpiece, hulking yet refined, was in a class by itself as night fell, appearing downright divine as lights from boats gently plying the Seine reflected gloriously off her walls. As if returning the favor, the impression of God’s House rippled over the wake in a stunning, almost surreal, display of color. It was a real-life portrait so utterly perfect that it was hard to imagine being possible without the hand of Heaven.

Those who have lived that experience now have a hole in their heart that cannot be mended. And those who were going to see Notre Dame, in a week or “someday,” feel justifiably robbed. One of the world's great treasures was taken from them. Notre Dame wasn’t a tourist attraction, but an unparalleled symbol of faith, strength, and unity.

Above all, it showcased the endless possibilities that await the human race when it comes together, and inspired people to love something greater than themselves. God works in strange ways, so perhaps this travesty occurring during Christianity’s holiest week will jumpstart the faith of millions who feel adrift.

Notre Dame’s first stone was laid in 1163. Here’s hoping the Cathedral of Our Lady will weather this storm so that people will still be paying their respects another 856 years from now.

****

Traveling opens our eyes and broadens our horizons. It generates in us empathies and compassions that cannot be obtained from TV or iPads, and it makes us question ourselves and our values in a beneficial way. And it’s precisely that introspection that creates the open-mindedness necessary for a free society to thrive, where tolerance and respect rule the day, and the unencumbered human spirit scales new heights.

Here’s hoping we can turn the tragedy of Notre Dame into a positive by not waiting until it’s too late to see and do the things that matter most. As Mark Twain said: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”

Amen.

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone Media. Read more reports from Chris FreindClick Here Now.

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Yes, the Cathedral will be rebuilt, but it will never be the same.
notre dame, cathedral, travel, fire
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2019-36-17
Wednesday, 17 April 2019 03:36 PM
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