Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Through the Fire - Notre Dame by Belle Calhoune

The post I intended to write was always meant to be about Notre Dame, but it wasn't supposed to be like this.  Never like this.  As we all know by now, Notre Dame suffered tremendous damage on Monday when a fiery blaze broke out in the upper portion of the cathedral.  Although Notre Dame suffered catastrophic damages, many parts of the cathedral, along with religious artifacts and symbols, were spared. God is good!

Three weeks ago I visited the sacred cathedral with my husband and two daughters on our epic London-Paris trip.  Having dealt with fear of flying that hindered my ability to get excited about the trip prior to it, I was awestruck by the presence of God on my trip.  It was most evident on my trip to Notre Dame.  The moment one walks into the cathedral, you know you are in the presence of God.  You feel Him surrounding you. You see Him all around you.






First, let me say that this was my third and most poignant visit to Notre Dame. The first time I was sixteen years old, and although I enjoyed the beauty and solemnity of it, I really was too young to fully comprehend what I was experiencing.  This most recent trip was special and my husband and I truly were awestruck by the beauty of the French gothic masterpiece.  Having studied French for ten years and traveled throughout France extensively, I am a Francophile.  I feel such a connection to the French people and I have ever since I took my first French lesson as a child. As a Catholic, there are few places as sacred and awe inspiring as Notre Dame.  Visually, I was mesmerized by the beautiful stained glass windows.  And how amazing that they survived the heat and flames!









We took a moment to light a candle and offer up prayers.  It was a serene and comforting experience.



The beautiful interior of the cathedtral.  A mass was being held as we visited.  Even though the priest spoke in French, you saw people of all nationalities worshiping and listening to his every word.





Priceless religious artifacts were on full display.  Irreplaceable artwork, ornate and intricate in their details.









I thought these two pieces were simply stunning in their beauty.





Notre Dame is still standing.  It survived, much as it has carried on through wars and revolutions. And the French people, and the entire world, will assist in the renovation of Notre Dame.  It is a symbol of hope and of God's love for all of us.  The glowing cross that was shown in the rubble is a powerful reminder of HOPE.

God was there when Notre Dame was consumed by flames.  He was there in the aftermath when people were outside singing and praying. He protected the pompiers (firemen) as they raced to extinguish the blaze.  He aided the French chaplain, Jean-Marc Fournier, as he entered the burning cathedral to salvage priceless religious artifacts. He was there, making sure all wasn't lost.

Sadly, Notre Dame won't be open to the public for six long years.  I feel humbled and grateful that we were able to make this visit.  I am thankful to God for guiding me on this journey.  There are no accidents in life, and I truly feel that God was showing me that something wonderful awaits you if you push past your fears and embrace all the world has to offer.

Blessings! Happy Easter!


12 comments:

  1. I cried when I first heard the news about the fire. I haven't been to Notre Dame, but I've been to other cathedrals throughout the world and each visit has been a deeply emotional event, especially when I go to England's Coventry Cathedral which was destroyed in WWII but was saved in a unique way by building a new cathedral next to the original building that is mostly now just a shell. What joy it was to see how much on Notre Dame has survived the fire and how much was saved by the people who braved the fire! These reminders of God's hand reaching out to hold all of us and bring us together are wondrous, too.

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    1. HI, JoAnn. Yes, I shed tears also. It's very emotional. The firefighters were very brave, as well as all the individuals just wanting to help out and save the artifacts. And it is a powerful example of God bringing the world together. Praise the Lord.

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  2. What a timely post. Your pictures are beautiful. Thank you for sgaring.

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    1. Thanks, Jolene. It was such an inspiring place to visit. Breathtakingly beautiful. It was painful to see the charred insides. But that glowing cross tells a powerful story. I hope you make it to Notre Dame one day to see it restored to its glory.

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  3. I pray God uses this to bring people together, stronger in their faith in the Lord.

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    1. Hi, Katy. That is my hope as well. And I think it is already happening. I never imagined that the whole world would cry tears of sorrow about Notre Dame or join together so quickly to pledge money to restore it. It has truly warmed my heart and inspired me.

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  4. Such a tragedy, but how amazing of God to preserve so much despite the blazing fire. Isn't that exactly how He works in our lives, too? <3 I'm so glad that you were able to take in the experience of Notre Dame one last time before the fire.

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    1. Hi, Sara. It really is amazing that so much of Notre Dame was preserved, against all odds. And the inside is all wood for the most part so the fact that it is still standing is really miraculous. I am, and will continue to be, grateful to God for this trip and for the visit to Notre Dame. It gave me goosebumps when I was there and now it will always be etched on my heart.

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing these photos and reflections, Belle. I had been in a basement with no internet scoring state tests so I had no idea this was going on. I emerged just in time to see video of the spire collapsing. It really brought back 9/11 gut reactions.

    I had such a strong reaction to watching the news about the fire. It made me want to be a more adventurous person, willing to take risks to see such wonders. I guess it hit home that I would never be able to have the experience you had. Thank you for letting me enjoy it vicariously.

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    1. Hi, Cate. Yes, it really did pack a punch like 9-11. So many people felt that way. It's the loss of something we didn't even realize how much we valued and adored. But the world is mourning now and banding together to restore it. I love that. And Cate, wouldn't it be wonderful if you could make the trip there when it reopens? That would be wonderful. Maybe bring your girls. Anything is possible and I truly believe Notre Dame will be restored to her former glory.

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  6. Thank you for sharing these lovely pictures. I am so thankful that so much was saved!

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    1. Hi Evelyn. I'm very thankful as well. So many important religious artifacts lay within those sacred walls.

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