On Monday 15th April the news spread like wild fire that Notre Dame in Paris was on fire. While the media were going on fire to report the news, I started pondering about this. Any major event triggers in me the desire to go in and listen to the silence, rather than the outside noise, to see what comes up for me … Of course the first thing that I could notice was the shock, as it probably happened to other millions of people when they heard the news. I visited the cathedral more than once over the years and, even if I could barely remember what its inside looked like, as it was several years ago and have since then visited many other cathedrals in my life, I could notice a jolt of sadness.
My religious education
I was born and raised as a catholic because unfortunately I didn’t have much to say about it and, even if I had, I don’t think it would have made much difference as my parents were strictly practicing Italian catholic, therefore that was the only way they would have educated their daughter. I managed to find enough courage growing up to openly express my doubts about this faith and I eventually broke the news to my dear parents that this wouldn’t be my future way of living when I was only 16 years old and decided to stop practicing being a catholic. Even though I renounced Catholicism few decades ago, I felt that such a nice piece of art was worth the admiration of few more people in the future, rather than go on fire!
I think that I would have felt the same way for any other building that represented the culmination of hundreds of years of art and human effort to create something beautiful not only for the people of the time, but also for future generations. I would have the same respect for any building belonging to any country, race, religion or faith that is the result of a collective effort to create beauty and represent values shared by thousands of people. It is the human effort to excel that counts in my opinion more than anything else, the desire to create a space for worship and peace and collaboration among human beings. Even if I am not a practicing catholic any more and haven’t been for decades, I still visit churches or any shrine with the purpose of admiring art and beauty detaching myself from the purpose behind the building. I particularly like the silence that one can enjoy in churches, as we live in a very noisy time and silence for me is vital to my well-being and creativity.
As I was saying my heart was feeling heavy after hearing about the news of the fire and I decided to stay with my feelings to see what they would bring along given them some time … The following day I couldn’t help noticing some bold comments about the event on social media, which I would expect, given the fame of this particular church; everybody has got and is entitled to have an opinion and so I read few comments and let them sink in, too. Now enough days have gone by to allow the sand to settle at the bottom of the sea and so it is time for me to share my own thoughts about this happening, as the water has become clear.
The first thing that shocked me the most was the humongous amount of money that started being offered by powerful and wealthy people from around the world to restore the church: I mean hundreds of millions of euros as by magic! How could it be possible? To fix a church?
As old and as beautiful it might be, it is still a church, I mean a building, why to use all that wealth to restore a building, rather than helping people from dying of starvation, sickness, natural disasters or war? Not only that would make much more sense, but it also would be along the Christian principles of helping and respecting one another, rather than just respecting a faith in a building!
The second point that I noticed was the compelling need to talk and discuss immediately about the reconstruction, rather than understanding what really happened. Why so much hurry to go back to the status quo and what it was?
I think events not always happen by mistake, maybe we should look first at what happened and reflect on it, rather than jumping straight away to phase b: the reconstruction.
I am aware that political power and the Church have always gone hand in hand, therefore the statement of the French Prime Minister to assure the public that Notre Dame will be mended and brought back to what it was within five years didn’t surprise me. Nevertheless I thought: how can a person with some good sense and good intention declare something of that relevance without realising that the event must be investigated first and that a reconstruction might not be suitable, feasible or desirable once the investigation has been done? Why this urgency to keep the church as it was? In fact there are many churches that remained unfinished, roofless or unused around Europe because of various reasons and they are not less charming than a perfect and well preserved one. Couldn’t it be that such a building goes on fire to make us think and reflect what the past has handed down to us?
Third point: this was a church dedicated to a woman, sorry, the ‘holy Virgin’ in catholic terms, nevertheless still a woman, couldn’t there be some deeper meaning in it? Old churches were mainly built on the foundations of older places of worship like pagan temples or shrines so it might be the case for Notre Dame, too. Could it be that the Divine Feminine is ready to go on fire?
Maybe it is time for the symbol of the Feminine to be whole rather than a virgin! I find it very symbolic the fact that two major parts of Notre Dame collapsed: the roof and the spire. Well, to me the roof collapsing means that the sky has to be the limit; the fact that the spire is the other part that collapsed is also very indicative. A spire is a universal male symbol, rather than a female symbol, therefore maybe we should look into a shape that represents a womb, rather than a penis: women have wombs, don’t they?
The famous Jesus, like all people, was born from a womb too and apparently, if one really wants to be accurate or faithful to the Christian dogma, he was not the result of a penis impregnating a womb, but the result of a supra natural event! So why a church built to honour a woman should have a spire?
Fourth point: if we really want to be accurate about the preaching of Jesus, admitting that what is written in the gospels is right, we should care about our brothers and sisters more than buildings, so why not use that humongous amount of wealth that poured in already the day after the accident to help who is less fortunate?
I think that if Jesus could see the result of his preaching few thousands years later he would turn in his grave! Oh sorry, I forgot, he didn’t die, he resurrected and went to heaven, then even better because he definitely can see what happened in this world, I hope … Well, if I were him, I would be appalled by the amount of wealth accumulated by his followers in his name and all the privileges that also came with it in the name of Christianity! Having been raised as a practicing catholic girl I can say that I know inside out the faith and its dogma, therefore I can say that the main purpose of a christian/catholic community should be the welfare of people, rather than the welfare of the Estate of the Church, including Notre Dame de Paris!
I wonder …
I really wonder whether it is not the right time to eventually look at all these aspects of Catholicism and Christianity … If not now, when?
Maybe Notre Dame went on fire by divine intervention to inspire us all to look deeply into the meaning of the Divine Feminine to improve things, not only respect more women, which is definitely not something that the Church did particularly well, but to become more ‘human kind’ and leave a better legacy to future generations, rather than a world divided by religions and different faiths fighting one another! What is more important than respecting all human beings, considering them all equal and sacred with all forms of life? That would be a good religion to follow and spread around the world … a peaceful way of living!
How do you feel about all this? I would like to know, please share your thoughts with me. Love and respect to all of you from The Flying Witch