Along with many millions of people around the world I am mourning the damage done to the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, grateful for the many times I have been there, sorry that so many will never get to see her as she was.
We have been to Paris many times, each time we checked in at Notre Dame, it would be an incomplete visit to miss her. It took five trips to finally go up the Eiffel Tower, a disapointing experience due to the intense crowds, no desire to go back. Notre Dame is different.
The first time we visited Paris and Notre Dame we climbed the stairs to the bell towers, over 600 steps up a narrow spiral staircase. Visions of the Hunchback of Notre Dame – Hugo or Disney – crept into our minds and conversation.
In 2005 Pope John Paul II died while we were in Paris, I went into the Cathedral. It was quiet and quite empty, most who visit, tourists and Parisians alike, go for the architecture and the history rather than meditation and prayer. The only voice I heard was the priest, standing near the alter, offering a prayer. I remember that day well.
One reason I am such an advocate of travelsketching is that it is a tool to connect with a moment and place – at the time you are traveling or later as you re-connect and remember. So last night I did a couple of sketches from photos taken years ago. One, that day in 2005 when I stepped inside, another from across the Seine River. Each stirred up a bit of the feeling of the moment all those years ago.