Our lady is burning

Some notes I wrote while Notre-Dame was burning, and all I could do was watch.

Our lady is burning.

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Our lady, with your strong and tall structure - you are much more than your stained glass, lead roof, limestone and wooden frames. You’ve known the face of Henry VI and Napoleon Bonaparte, and witnessed Joan of Arc’s last breath. We depend on you. Never second-guessing your existence, maybe even growing costumed to taking your very existence for granted.

A proud building, a human creation that for once makes us proud of being what we are. But the heavy smoke and your falling spire has reminded me of the fact that even the things in life that what we deem as robust and resilient are only temporary. Like everything else in this world.

The only thing the world can do now, is watch you burn. Watch, while the shades of orange and yellow - the same shades that you were bathing in at sunrise, the last time I saw you - now swallow you.

And all I can think of is that line from Casablanca “We’ll always have Paris” in the most literal way. Accepting that even the city of Paris can’t last forever and cherish the memory of architecture that has lasted longer than a line of human lives. All we can do is cherish what we have now, for what it is in this moment, because even Notre Dame will be gone one day. Just like Paris as we know it will be gone one day.

I cry for our lady and I thank her for reminding me that every minute that goes by, has an impact. Every drop of rain, every storm, and every star that covers the sky. We are all afraid of change, but it is the only certainty we have.

Nortre Dame, je t’aime.

After:

When the fire was finally put out, it brought me so much joy to see the world coming together to rebuild such a beautiful piece of history. But after seeing all the covers of the papers describing the blaze, my entire social media feed showing the structure in its days of glory and the millions of pounds worth of donations flooding in, I could not help but feel bittersweet. Where is this will and passion in the battle against climate change? Where are the donations made to take care of the French children who are living in poverty? How is it possible to raise more than £800 millions for Notre Dame within the first 24 hours of the fire, while the people of Jemen are forgotten? I am aware that you can’t always compare these things. Decisions has to be made, and you can’t pick every cause. But it does make me wonder… When I later learned that one of the holiest mosques in the world, Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque also caught fire during the Notre Dame blaze, I became outraged. I hadn’t heard a word about it while it was ongoing, which just confirmed my worries.

So while we mourn our loss and plan the rebuilding of Notre Dame, I hope that we use this incident to remind ourselves of what we are capable of. Together we can create change in Yemen, sustainable development around the globe and make a difference for the people living in poverty. If there is no will, there will be no change. These 24 hours have proven that we can make a difference and that it’s time to act.

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