By now, you’ve probably seen the horrific images of flames engulfing the spire and nave of Notre Dame. As I scrolled through the photographs of the destruction and read the mournful descriptions of eyewitnesses eulogizing the great cathedral and all it has seen in its eight centuries – the plague, the French Revolution, the world wars – one thought lay heavy on my mind: nothing lasts forever.
We treasure so much that is ephemeral (and, yes, something eight-hundred-odd years old can be considered ephemeral when you think about the millennia that encompass those years) and spend so much time working to acquire and protect it. And, like that spire, it can be taken in a matter of minutes. Perversely, the very few things in life that do (or at least have the potential to) last forever – our relationships, our souls, our legacy – are given the least of our attention and concern. May this terrible loss and the scar that it leaves behind on the Parisian skyline be a reminder to us to treasure the beautiful things in life while also recognizing that they are gifts given for our temporary enjoyment and much less deserving of our time and energy than are the people and hearts (including our own!) that have been entrusted to our care.