Notre Dame is Burning

A firefighter uses a hose to douse flames and smoke billowing from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt | AFP | Getty Images

Notre Dame is Burning

A firefighter uses a hose to douse flames and smoke billowing from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt | AFP | Getty Images

I see Notre Dame is burn­ing, and
my instinct is to grieve
for the destruc­tion of such beau­ty
and the void that it must leave.

And I see Our Lady, mourn­ing
as her house is turned to ash.
That spire, reach­ing for her hand,
is sim­ply nev­er com­ing back.

And I see the faith­ful, gath­ered —
see their tor­ment, hear their cries —
as this cathe­dral thought eter­nal
crum­bles before their very eyes.

And I see sym­bol­ism blaz­ing
in the wreck­aged, ruined frame
as onlook­ers are weep­ing,
know­ing noth­ing may remain.


Black and white image of a young boy in button-down shirt, vest, and tie. We’re looking at the left side of his face as he gazes down at the ground. The mood of the photo is somber.

I see Notre Dame is burn­ing
like her off­spring, sac­ri­ficed
for the appetites of holy men
deemed wor­thy of that price.

And I see Our Father’s chil­dren
buried silent and alone,
feast­ed upon by shep­herds
who were wolves set out to roam.

And I see Our Moth­er, weep­ing
as her babes are preyed upon.
She refus­es to be com­fort­ed,
for her chil­dren are now gone.

And I saw the time His Holi­ness
con­demned the least of these,
insti­tut­ing child sac­ri­fice
endorsed by his decree.


Art piece entitled “Astonishment by the Crusaders at the Wealth of the East,” by Gustave Doré
Art piece enti­tled “Aston­ish­ment by the Cru­saders at the Wealth of the East,” by Gus­tave Doré

I see Notre Dame is burn­ing —
sacred turned to sac­ri­lege.
Such a per­fect illus­tra­tion
of church his­to­ry, unabridged.

Burn­ing like the paths of wars
Her peo­ple waged for glo­ri­ous gain
of the souls forced to con­vert, and then
the spoils of the slain.

Like the women kept in bondage
by the gov­er­nance of men
(for their bod­ies incu­bate the ones
deemed wor­thi­er than them).

Like the peo­ple, past and present,
end­less­ly con­fess­ing wrongs —
actu­al or imag­ined — so
they might belong with God.


I see Notre Dame is burn­ing,
and — while my instinct is to grieve
for the destruc­tion of such beau­ty
and the void that it must leave —

I also see the world is burn­ing
from the reck­less pol­i­tics
held by devout believ­ers
uncon­cerned when harm inflicts.

Shall we mourn the loss of beau­ty
and ignore deprav­i­ty
when it comes from our own hous­es
where we wor­ship every week?

I see both good and evil
in that wreck­aged, ruined frame,
as onlook­ers are weep­ing,
know­ing noth­ing may remain.

Photo of the spire of the Notre Dame Cathedral billowing fire and smoke, posted by the official Twitter account for the cathedral.
Pho­to of the spire of the Notre Dame Cathe­dral bil­low­ing fire and smoke, post­ed by the offi­cial Twit­ter account for the cathe­dral.
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