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Paris is burning. Embers glow in the skyline and flicker through the petals of rose windows. The world watches as it happens – all hunched over their phones or in front of their televisions. The smoke full of centuries of history rises above us all.

No one knows why yet. It doesn’t matter.

Paris is burning, and the gargoyles are crying. I’ve seen Notre Dame glow only in the golden light of Parisian sunsets. Only in the flicker of the candles lit inside underneath its towering arches. Only through the beauty of those stained glass windows that we may not ever see again. Those brilliant wooden doors will crumble to ash and the facades will fall and the marble will blacken, and a building that was saved even from Hitler will now only live in memories. The world will mourn another piece of our history, lost forever to flames and destruction.

The cathedral is burning, but it isn’t just about the structure. I’m not speaking just of the history of that intricately woven into the woodwork that burns. It’s how many people have Notre Dame as the background to years of their lives of the Parisians, to days of all who have visited, to all of the individual moments stored in our eternal memories that played out in the shadow of those beautiful flying buttresses for over 850 years.

There will be nothing left,” a spokesperson for the cathedral told BBC News.

Maybe. There will be nothing left of that physical beauty, but as the world watches Paris burn, they’re all feeling those flickers of memories now burnt thoroughly into the past. I understand. If it was “my” Duomo, I wouldn’t be mourning the structure that heavily. Nothing lasts forever – but I’d be sullen with the thought of never standing in the shadow of that dome again – of never being able to point to the shade of it and say, that is where I fell in love, this is where I found my future.

Paris is burning, charring memories that’ll never be able to return to their first luster, but there will be memories left. There will be stories left. There will be something left.