Does anyone else feel like the webs and structures that keep us in line are wearing a bit thin, and even rupturing in places? What used to be as predictable as a multilane freeway has become a bumper car floor where relative reason and adherence to law has been replaced by chaos and irreverence. Seeing the spire of La Notre Dame topple in a sea of flames, amplified the sense of extreme vulnerability and insecurity felt when systems and structures are so corrupt and corroded, they no longer apply.
For 900 years she stood, a symbol of a people, a culture, a nation, a religion – through wars, revolutions, famines and plagues – she’s seen it all. Yet she stood – solid, immutable, in perpetual celebratory greatness. Yes, I took her for granted. Which makes it even more shocking when the mask peels off, and lays bare a new reality. She was a symbol before the spire fell, and she’s a symbol now. Except a symbol that has adjusted to fit the fractured tenuousness of our times. France has vowed to rebuild. Macron said it will be even better. Can’t help thinking that a rebuild with the aid of modern technology and materials would feel about as genuine as Disney World – in other words not at all.
I DO hope France and the rest of the fractured world manage to unite to rebuild. But, I hope they do it in such a way that treads lightly, and pays the proper homage to Our Lady, while sparing no ingenuity and spirit in the creation of the New. If done right, the new magic will be the poetic union of the New with the Old. Like Sverre Fehn did with the Hedmark Museum. Let the union be the inspiration. 900 years ago, Notre Dame displayed the highest refinement of its time’s arts and abilities. Let the New reflect the epitome of contemporary ingenuity and grace. If we can come together and create something worthy – and of such immense delicacy – without falling prey to sentimental banalities, it will instill far more hope for what humanity is capable of, than painstakingly recreating what once was. Let that be our common goal – something we can unite around.