The devastating fire at Notre Dame, “Our Lady,” cathedral this week reminded us of the importance of Paris. Millions turned our eyes towards Île de la Cité, where the eight hundred and fifty year old church sits at the ancient heart of Paris, on the larger of the two islands in the River Seine.
The videos of the leaping flames made me sad but this was not a deliberate act, and no one died, for which I’m grateful. Plans to rebuild have already begun, which is more than can be said for other places recently devastated.
Like everyone else who has stood inside or outside that massive Gothic structure, with its distinctive flying buttresses, I looked through my pictures. Though many posted their selfies with Notre Dame, I felt hesitant to do the same so soon, out of respect.
My most recent pics were taken just four months ago, on this latest trip with my daughter, newly graduated from college. We snapped my favorite outside, in the main square, with one of Notre Dame’s rose windows above our tilting heads. The 2018 Christmas tree glows behind us with its lavender shaded lights. You can see them on my memoir’s Facebook page linked below.
If we had known that night Notre Dame would soon be ravaged by fire, what more might we have done to appreciate her beauty?
Beauty is our theme now. On the dial of the Wisdom Wheel, the Beauty gate is opening at this season. From the 21st of April to the 21st of May we celebrate the birthdays of our Taurus friends. Their Birth Law is Beauty. My husband Malcolm is one of them, and he’s turning 70 on the 25th.
Everyone lives under the Power Law in their 70th year, and on their 16th and 43rd and 97th years. Beauty has a Power of its own.
When I moved to Paris in 1984, I was looking for a Beauty Queen, though her Beauty had not spared her. Georgina Rizk had been crowned Miss Universe in 1971, the first Arab woman to ever win that contest. Only one year older than me, by age thirty this Lebanese woman was already a widow and a refugee, trying to raise her small son alone in France, a foreign country. Her tragedies — not her beauty — inspired me to write her story.
Next Lodge is on the New Moon, Sunday May 5th in the newly rebuilt structure. Visit our Facebook page for any information about ceremonies.
Excerpt from The Importance of Paris, Chapter 13 “A Plusiers Reprise – The Many Tries”
That Sunday, on my customary long walk, I reveled in the arrival of another spring. Leafy little flags of green had unfurled on the overhead branches. Powdery pollen balls had blown off the trees, filled the gutters and floated on the River Seine. Oh Paris, what a taskmaster you have been.
At home later, I watched a documentary on television about the city. It explained how Paris had been laid out in a series of compass points, beginning from Ground Zero, marked by a stone in the pavement facing Notre Dame Cathedral. All twenty arrondissements unfolded in a great circle from that center. The lowest address numbers are closest to the River Seine. By contrast, Manhattan has no sacred center. Fifth Avenue forms its dividing line and the addresses go the opposite way, with highest numbered buildings beside the rivers.
The French had thought themselves the center of the universe, with everything revolving around them. And the Chinese had once called themselves the Middle Kingdom. In the US today we put North America in the center of our world maps. Each of us taking turns believing ourselves the be all and end all.