The Notre Dame represents a heart of Paris, and a beacon of civilisation. Cynics would call it a tourist trap. Even they could not ignore its sublime aesthetic and rich representation of human history.
In our wanderings of Paris, we might pass it without thinking. After visiting the cathedral once, it fades into the background, contributing to the delectable palette of the French capital’s core.
The loss of her great and aged timber is profoundly upsetting. Yet there is cause for confidence, for Parisians and all those who celebrate great artefacts everywhere.
In Japan, one regularly stumbles across buildings of immense historical value. Some are as old or older than the Notre Dame. Exploring them delivers a sense of profound wonder, the same sense of looking through time as one experiences in Paris.
Yet look closely, and deeper truth is revealed. Many Japanese buildings, even the most celebrated, such as Osaka Castle, bear plaques that read along the lines of:
“Constructed 1237, destroyed by fire 1642, rebuilt 1899”
It is the nature of life for things to be lost. No matter how careful a civilisation, it will always lose relics over time. What matters is not the physical form of the relic, but what it represents, how we handle loss, and whether we rebuild stronger than before.