Upon seeing pictures of Notre Dame Cathedral in flames, I immediately felt a lump in my throat. “No…no…no…” I groaned.
— CNN (@CNN) April 15, 2019
I still remember standing next to my dad, staring in wonder at the stunning architecture. In France for a flight layover, we only had a day to explore and had beelined straight for the cathedral. We were heading home from a missions trip in India, and only a few days before we’d been eating lunch in a mud hut in a remote village. The contrast made Notre Dame’s towering magnificence all the more pronounced.
I still remember walking the perimeter of the cathedral, tracing every detail with my eyes. I still remember snapping picture after picture, thankful I’d remembered an extra roll of film. I still remember walking inside and studying the stained glass windows in awe. I still remember muttering to my dad, “This is the most beautiful building I’ve ever seen.”
I still remember. And that’s what caused such a visceral reaction. When you first think about it, it’s odd to feel intense emotion over a building. It’s not so much about the building though, but the feelings that came from it. It was the memory of being stunned by beauty, struck by ingenuity, enraptured by creativity. It was the memory of marveling at hundreds of years of history.
So even though it’s just a building—an inanimate, unfeeling object—it’s meaningful. And because it’s meaningful, the loss of it is a loss for us. All of us who’ve see it and been captured by the juxtaposition of its dark and gothic loveliness. All of us who dreamed of visiting it someday.
But I realized it wasn’t only the memories that incited such sadness. I was feeling something deeper.
Deep within our souls, we rail against destruction. We long for lasting beauty—beautiful things shouldn’t be destroyed. So when something beautiful is ruined, we remember that it’s not supposed to be this way. It’s like a cold splash of water awaking us to truth.
I believe God’s made us this way. He’s made us to appreciate beauty in people, in nature, in art, and in architecture like Notre Dame Cathedral. And He’s made us for something eternal—life in heaven with Him.
When our hearts feel unsettled by the brokenness of the world, we’re not meant to live in despair. We’re meant to live for a better one. Because nothing here will last forever—even beautifully, well-constructed, centuries old buildings. Everything here is passing away. But when we have life in Christ, we can grieve the passing while looking forward to the things to come. To the kingdom that cannot be shaken. The glories that will never be shadowed. The joy that will never be interrupted. The one place that will remain beautiful forever.
— Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) April 15, 2019