This image of the interior of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame after the fire is haunting. In the darkened sanctuary a cross stands, shining in the distance. The words of Viktor Frankl remind us “what is to give light must endure burning.”
Upon awakening from a night of fitful sleep I thought about Fluctuat nec mergitur. This Latin phrase translates more or less to “she is tossed by the waves, but does not sink.” Since at least 1358 it has been used as the motto by the city of Paris. Today the city of Paris, the City of Lights, or in French, La Ville-Lumière has been tossed indeed. The Cathedral of Notre-Dame rests in the remains of smoke and ashes after a devastating fire, but it has not sunk, nor has Paris itself. Yet when I woke up, I had to wonder if it had really happened.
Many of you know that I went on Camino Santiago in the fall. It has been difficult to write about my experiences there. Why? I am not sure! Maybe it is because of the extraordinary nature of such a trip, a journey traveled in the world and also in the soul. Words do not come easily! In any case, I will start sharing some Camino Stories. Today I begin with one about coincidences occurring on the beginning and the end of the trip.
My camino compañera Sue and I flew from Montreal to Paris to begin our journey. As she had never been to Paris, we made a plan to stay overnight and have a one day whirlwind around this remarkable city. God was good and I found us a cheap hotel in a great location. It was a LOVELY hotel. We arrived at the crack o’ dawn and they let us check into our room. We changed and washed up, took off, and spent the day sightseeing.
Late in the afternoon found us near the Eiffel Tower at last. Sue was thrilled to be there. Honestly, having done it before, I was not so interested in going up, but once we got there, Sue’s excitement was contagious. Like all the other tourists, we waited in a long line and finally got to the elevator, which brings you to the first viewing level.
October is designated as the month of the Rosary. Does this idea make you want to roll your eyes? With images of a kind of quaint piety tumbling through your imagination. Perhaps you are reminded of times when old grandmothers and other elderly women were seen in church, clutching their beads.
As for me, I am very sentimental about the Rosary, but not in a way that is pious or saccharine. It was 25 years ago, in late September/early October, that I, as a young woman, clutched a rosary in my hand and made my way back to Church. Anyway, that is a story that I told before, and I won’t retell it today.