Sometimes things happen thousands of miles away that slice right through your heart.
On Monday after I had left work I saw that my daughter had sent me a text, asking me whether I had heard about the big fire in Notre-Dame. I had not - I don't check my phone at work and I don't go online outside of work-related tasks. Therefore, I was oblivious what had happened that evening in Paris.
I checked in on the European news when I came home, and what I saw filled me with deep sadness. Watching that beautiful steeple fall in the flames... on top, the smoke and the fire raised very unpleasant memories. Someone once said that there is a forest in the roof of the cathedral - centuries-old timber of oaks - and it burned up like that. Half of that roof was still from the 13th century (in comparison, the roof of the Cologne cathedral was built with steel in the 19th century, a decision that was very controversial at that time but proved to be a wise choice).
I saw footage of a robot vehicle sent into the cathedral to retrieve some of the artwork. Firefighters tried to save some of these treasures. It seems that a lot was saved - but there is artwork that is lost forever.
The beautiful stained glass windows - many of them made with medieval glass (just think about that!) - seem to have survived the fire. Those big windows in the choir are stunning and how much do I love the rose windows.
Since there was a lot of renovating and reconstruction work going on (maybe the cause of the fire?) it was just luck that many of the bronze statues on the outside of the church like the apostles were removed just a week before or so.
When I was in Paris the last time I visited Notre-Dame while there was a mass going on inside which added a special atmosphere to this place of worship (and I'm not a religious person).
Like in so many catholic churches and cathedrals in Europe there were many places where you could light a candle. Their warm light put a beautiful glow in so many nooks and corners (and no, as far as I know they didn't cause this fire).
So many details on the outside of Notre-Dame - you could spend a lot of time looking at them and probably still haven't seen all of them.
I do hope they will rebuild. For me it's the heart of Paris. It's on the Île de la Cité where Paris began. Notre-Dame is the mother of all cathedrals, serving as a sample for so many Gothic cathedrals. I can't even imagine what this loss means to the French people.
And I'm forever grateful that my daughter was able to visit Notre-Dame back in the summer of 2014 and could also listen to the magnificent ringing of the bells.