Updated: Apr 27, 2020
I remember my first trip to Paris, with my parents and brother, sometime back in 1984. There was a fellow giving donkey rides in front of Notre Dame, and the donkeys were named Thatcher and Mitterrand.
This last January I walked passed the cathedral once more, where the security perimeter had been pushed out to the street due to anti terror protection and it was impossible to enter even the plaza in front. I managed to walk down the Rue du Cloitre Notre Dame, which was simply heaving with tourists, and cross the Seine on the Pont Saint Louis.
It was a rare January day with a blue sky and relatively warm-a day made for walking. I was walking, thinking, hoping, as I often do, and looking back on it now I see how it was the end of a significant chapter in my life, and the beginning of a new one.
Watching the flames consume La Flèche this past evening reminds me that not all is lost. We build on the ashes of our past every day, and I know that France will rise to the occasion of rebuilding Notre Dame.
So let’s not mourn. Think back, rather, to 1163 when ground was first broken on this monument, and reflect on the breathtaking vision of a group of simple people who decided to build one of the most complex structures of their time. A structure that endured nearly one thousand years until today and will continue, after rebuilding, long into the future. Imagine their ambition and vision.
Whatever you build on the ashes of your past, make sure it has the same vision.
We are such stuff as dreams are made of ...
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