As Notre Dame was burning, firefighters formed a human chain, passing fragile treasures from hand to hand, while sparks spiraled down from the eight centuries of history turning to ash overhead.
Notre Dame’s still standing this Easter morning, with sunlight filtering through soot-stained glass and the charred holes in her roof.
Parisians linked arms and pulled one another through. Which is the only way any of us are going to make it out of a week like this last one. Not one of our better weeks, planetwise.
A little boy is fighting for his life after a stranger ripped him away from his mother and hurled him over a third-floor balcony at the Mall of America.
A teenager with a gun terrorized Colorado schools, then turned the gun on herself.
St. Mary Missionary Baptist Church burned, and Greater Union Baptist Church burned, and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church burned down in Louisiana and no one was surprised when the suspected arsonist was charged with targeting black churches out of hate.
The president went before a group of wounded veterans and spent most of his time at the mic congratulating himself over the results of an investigation that documented, with footnotes, what a foul-mouthed venal liar he is. America’s main takeaway from the Mueller report is that its president would have done a much better job of obstructing justice if he weren’t surrounded by people who ignore almost everything he says.
At the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, where visitors bound messages and prayers in a book to send to Notre Dame, Pastor John Bauer contemplated the sorrowful mysteries of this Holy Week.
“I wish I could offer a clear and compelling explanation for why tragedies occur and bad things sometimes happen to good people,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, I don’t have one and have never heard one that is convincing.”
The reality, he said, “is that sometimes tragedies occur and bad things happen to good people, and we don’t know why. What we do know, though, and what I believe, is that when bad things happen to us, God is with us offering us God’s grace and enfolding us in God’s love.”
Love might not be able to stop a tragedy, but for Bauer, it means not having to go through it alone.
“And as a result, while we may not understand, we can accept and move forward in faith and hope,” he concluded.
Thousands of strangers have donated almost $1 million to the family of the little boy attacked at the mall. Late last week, little Landen’s family said he was showing real signs of recovery after the 40-foot fall.
The wounded warriors who visited the White House were just some of the veterans hurting last week. On Wednesday, volunteers gently placed 60 pairs of empty combat boots on the steps of the Minnesota Capitol, representing 60 Minnesota veterans who died by suicide. Stillwater-based Operation: 23 to Zero set up the display and personalized each pair of boots with small human touches — a photo, a handful of a young soldier’s favorite candy — to remind visitors of just how much we’ve lost.
We’re still losing an average of 20 veterans a day to suicide, and groups like this will be out there, raising money and awareness and reaching out to anyone who needs them, until that number is zero.
Billionaires and corporations and ordinary people who grieved the sight of so much history and beauty going up in smoke donated lavishly to rebuild Notre Dame.
Donations — $2 million and counting — also flowed to Louisiana’s Seventh District Baptist Association fund to rebuild St. Mary, Greater Union and Mount Pleasant. A church doesn’t need to be an 850-year-old triumph of art, architecture and history to be worth saving.
The Rev. Harry Richard, whose grandparents helped found Greater Union Baptist Church in Opelousas more than a century ago, tried to describe the loss in an interview with the Lafayette Daily Advertiser.
“Some of my favorite memories are as a child on Sunday mornings. We would get there, come in to worship God, the music would be playing, the choir singing,” he told the newspaper. “That was our community.”
This is our community. This is a brand-new week. Let’s help each other through it.