2019 Notre Dame fire. Photo: LeLaisserPasserA38. Source: Wikimedia
There has been a massive outpouring of grief and concern since a massive fire swept through the Cathedral of Notre Dame last week. There has also been a massive outpouring of contributions to its ultimate rebuilding. French authorities have committed themselves to have the cathedral reconstructed in time for the 2024 Olympics in Paris. Apparently over €1 billion has been raised.
Then, on Easter weekend, a local jihadist group in Sri Lanka carried out a series of terrorist bombings that killed almost 300 people and injured more than 400, targeting churches and hotels. The latest atrocity reminds us of the violence in Egypt that targeted many centuries-old churches, or the bombings in southern Iraq a decade ago that hit the Al-Anskari Mosque. There’s something about sacred spaces that draws us out. Every culture and society has them. There are also non-religious spaces that are transcendent, like the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. If you go there, take note: people speak in hushed tones when they read Lincoln’s immortal words and see his statue. It’s the same at the 9/11 Memorial in New York, or the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii.
People get a sense of transcendence, of something more, when they’re in special places like these. It’s not just memories, although that’s part of it. Folks who visited Notre Dame or other European cathedrals or the Stave Churches in Norway or some of the sacred mountains in China feel their souls lifted higher. We want to be, know we can be more than we are. It’s not just their size or age or setting. It’s their connection to a deeper, more profound reality.
12th century Stave Church. Photo: Simo Räsänen. Source: Wikimedia.
That’s why I think so many were grieved by the fire in Paris last week, and why there has been such an outpouring of funds to restore the Cathedral. Our spirits can be dampened by the challenges that life throws at us – financial, personal, professional – but they won’t be denied. Whether it’s in business or art or science or some other field, we always seem to find a way to reach higher.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Charter Trust Company
“The Best Trust Company in New England”