From the Rector
For as long as I can remember I have been awestruck by large, impressive sacred buildings.
Their soaring architectural glory has on numerous occasions filled me with a deep sense of wonder. I shall never forget my one and so far only visit to St Peter’s in Rome. Its sheer size, way longer than St Paul’s in London with which it is often compared, made me tingle.
I recall another lone visit, to the magnificent cathedral at Durham, with its spectacular setting overlooking the River Wear, and the thrill this Norman giant gave me.
I have several times been filled with that same frisson of excitement and humility at the sight of the beautiful Notre Dame de Paris.
On the night of 15th April Wendy and I watched, as we all no doubt did, in horror and deep sadness as that 850 year-old symbol of faith, prayer and national identity succumbed to the inferno that engulfed its roof.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that we wept at the sight and our hearts went out to all the people of that magical city. Emmanuel Macron, their President, observed that ‘part of all of us burns’ and we knew exactly what he meant.
It just seems impossible to imagine that something so solid and so enduring, deliberately constructed to symbolise permanence, could be virtually destroyed in a few short and tragic hours.
But as the dust and ash metaphorically and literally settled, there were already signs that there is indeed something even more enduring than the bricks, mortar and wood of a magnificent church and that is the human spirit.
Even with the tears still in their eyes, Parisians were talking about their common feelings of brother and sisterhood, and their hopes for rebirth, both of building and of faith.
I had emailed my two closest friends in Normandy and one of them replied thoughtfully: ‘though there was a real shortage of funds for the renovation project, the pledges for rebuilding are flooding in. I have hope thanks to an immense spirit of solidarity.’
It is paradoxically in our darkest and toughest moments that our shared sense of determination, faith and hope shines through.
That indomitable human spirit can navigate us through the stormiest seas and the blackest nights.