I’ve long wanted to visit Paris. Some years ago I began having dreams about the city. The dreams subsided but my interest in visiting did not. In recent years I’d resigned myself to thinking it would remain a lovely dream, perhaps a necessary one, but nothing more than that. While it remains possible that such a trip could become affordable or logistically possible considering my dislike of being on airplanes, or my insistence on never flying over an ocean, ever, it is unlikely. Keeping in mind the necessity of dreams for their own sake, and that sometimes they are more important, and even better, than the reality. Suffice it to say some dreams we pursue as realities, as possibilities we think and hope will match our imaginings or perhaps be greater than we could ever dream, and others, we are content to let them remain beautiful dreams where our imaginations can rule. So I’ve a few books about Paris, pictures of the French Countryside, coffee-table books. A picture of Sacre-Coeur Basilica, and a couple of pictures of the Eiffel Tower, adorn the walls of my office, other things here and there. Occasionally I’ve swooned over particularly romantic photographs of Paris Cafes.
Now the eight hundred and fifty year old Notre Dame Cathedral is in flames, the day after Palm Sunday, and that feels unreal. It looks unreal, like some bizarre nightmare unfolding, the flames surging, the spire collapsing, a statement coming from officials that firefighters may not be able to save Notre Dame Cathedral. The photographs looking like something from a Gothic horror story as night has fallen on Paris and people have gathered to sing hymns as the flames rise in the darkness. Not save it? How can that be? It seems as though it cannot be happening. It looks as unreal as watching footage of the recent protests there, so much discord in such a beautiful place, a city the beauty of which has been revered throughout its history. The world is changing, and the feeling is that there is something else that is, perhaps, slipping away from us. But we cannot think that, we cannot let that thought in just yet. There is still time, there must be. My heart goes out to those people of Paris who will, no doubt, mourn this loss every day for a long time to come. Notre Dame can yet live on in our imaginations, in our hearts, and dreams.