i watched horrified as the fire raged through Notre Dame on monday night. i’m not religious, though raised a catholic, and while i have lit candles there for late family members, my sadness had nothing to do with it being a church.
if you ever visited the cathedral, you’d know that it’s a special place. you step in and you can feel that it’s sacred. not sacred in the religious sense only but also in the sense of being reverently dedicated to some person, purpose, or object; or regarded with reverence.
if you’ve read The Hunchback of Notre Dame, then you understand the affinity to the cathedral. if you’ve read The Pillars of the Earth, then you understand why cathedrals such as this are awe inspiring examples of what human beings can accomplish.
or maybe not, since a mere few hours into the blaze, what i coined as the “i’m more woke than you olympics” began. do you know what i mean? a tragedy, natural or otherwise occurs, or a celebrity dies say, and before you know it, you start seeing posts from people on social media scoffing people’s distress, and letting you know just how much you suck for not caring about this cause, or this cause or that other one.
but the last time i checked i could walk and chew gum at the same time:
i can mourn the destruction of a beautiful piece of human history owned by a country that has treated its colonies abysmally (and still does), while still working to hold that country accountable and effect change
i can mourn the loss of a cathedral built from stone while still feeling awe when in a natural catherdral formed by magnificent trees in a forest
i can appreciate the beauty of a european cathedral filled with european works of art, and still shake my booty to shango rhythms and calypso and reggae and want to visit africa and commune with my ancestors.
i can care about notre dame, and also care about puerto rico, flint, and the churches burned in louisiana. last year i was shocked and saddened too, at the loss of the Museu Nacional in brazil. i had never even heard about it until the day it burnt, but i instantly knew what a loss it was for the world.
and maybe it’s not like that for everyone. maybe for some people it has to be one or the other. and that’s fine. but really all i wanted this week was some time to process what has happened. a moment to stop and see what was happening, and do some processing before moving on to the very important conversations that must then be had.