With the tragic fire at Notre Dame in Paris earlier in the week, I saw an outpouring of stories and photos of people’s experiences in the historic and famous cathedral. Though I have been fortunate enough to have seen Notre Dame with my own eyes three times (so far) in my life, I didn’t join in on the photo/story sharing. However, since it is Easter, I thought today was a good day to share a photo I snapped the last time I was in Paris, about 6 years ago.
Although this photo, which predominantly features parts of the cathedral that were destroyed, was taken 6 years ago my story is from Easter of my freshman year in high school, which was more years ago than I care to admit.
During my freshman year of high school I went with my french class to France during spring break. It was a whirlwind of a trip and my first time traveling without my parents. We saw so many things – many of which I don’t have a clear memory of because I was 14 and half the time I had no idea what we were looking at or what its significance was. But I remember going to the beaches of Normandy, seeing many castles, Monet’s gardens, Versailles, the Louvre, etc. All the major things.
But one of the most memorable things was going to Easter mass at Notre Dame. I’m not particularly religious and attending the mass was entirely optional (I went to a public high school so going to the church service wasn’t an official part of the itinerary). But the night before Easter, one of the french teachers brought up the idea and said she would be going so anyone else who also wanted to experience Easter mass at Notre Dame could go with her. She was also going for the experience, not for the actual religious aspects of it as she is jewish. I definitely wanted to go because how many non-French people can say they’ve been to Easter mass at the famous Notre Dame Cathedral?!
It was such an amazing experience. I remember being in awe of the sheer beauty and size of it all. Sitting in a pew and soaking in the experience. Having hardly a clue of what was going on as the service was in french and they were singing Gregorian chants. But, it’s a memory I’ll always have.
That is my Easter memory to share with you today. Happy Easter to all who celebrate!
And I’ll leave you with President Barack Obama’s comment/statement on the fire: “Notre Dame is one of the world’s great treasures, and we’re thinking of the people of France in your time of grief. It’s in our nature to mourn when we see history lost – but it’s also in our nature to rebuild for tomorrow, as strong as we can.”