Notre Dame #AtoZChallenge #WATWB

Apr 19, 2019 | No-Niche Posts

On April 15th, the Cathedral of Notre Dame burned, in a conflagration lasting more than half a day. The world watched in horror as its massive spire, lit up from within, succumbed to the flames, sinking and toppling. For a short while, it seemed as if the cathedral itself might be structurally weakened to the point of collapse and total destruction.

I texted my kids, glad that we had visited but sad that they might have been too young, really, to remember what it had looked like, inside. “It might not be there when we wake up,” I wrote, feeling some tiny little piece of my heart cracking. This is why we can’t have nice things, I thought, resenting the cheap, pre-fab, concrete-pop-up, blight of urban strip malls that surround us. Human hands made that majestic cathedral with its awe-inspiring flying buttresses. Human sweat and labor over more than 200 years, and it might all crumble in a day.

Learning about the bees, kept on the roof of Notre Dame, almost broke me.

Strangely, almost inexplicably, I woke up feeling lighter. Notre Dame did not weigh on my mind as I might have expected it to. I woke up with faith that Notre Dame would take care of itself, and its people would take care of it, as they always had.

Morning brought shock, sadness, but a glimmer of hope. The two bell towers still stood. The cross still gleamed from the altar. The medieval organ, though not unscathed, might yet function and be repaired. Many of the priceless relics and works of art had been saved. Over 500 firefighters battled on behalf of a grateful people – Parisians, the French, Catholics, the World – to save a beloved icon of historical, architectural, spiritual, artistic, cultural, and religious significance. French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to rebuilt Notre Dame, and set an ambitious timetable of five years.

Donations to rebuild her began to flow in almost as fast as the water that put out the fire that threatened to destroy her.

To the critics of the billionaires donating, I can only say, “Think. Where will that money go, now? To laborers, caterers, cleaners, restorers, suppliers…” It will not “trickle down” but rather return to the flow of commerce. It was theirs to give, or not, and Notre Dame has opened their hearts to give it. Don’t be angry or bitter. Take it and build excellent things.

Good News on Good Friday

The bees are alive!
And I leave you with this thought, which, from me, is more from the heart of a mother than from the mind of a faithful religious observer:
Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle, illustrated by Jordan Vinyard; A Puppy, Not a Guppy, illustrated by Ryan Shaw; and the newest release: A New Leaf for Lyle, illustrated by Carrie Salazar. She draws inspiration from her family, from her own childhood adventures (some of which only happened in her overactive imagination), and from readers both young and young-at-heart. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, J.J., whose love and encouragement make writing books twice the fun.


  1. Debbie D.

    Yes, it could have been much worse, so that was a relief! I visited Notre Dame way back in 1966 and don’t remember much, but am glad of it, nonetheless. Why would anyone be critical of donations? Do they think it’s a waste of money to restore a historical edifice?
    Debbie D. recently posted…FROM DEATH COMES LIFE #WATWB #OrganDonationMy Profile

    • Holly Jahangiri

      No, they think the money could be BETTER spent feeding/housing the poor, the immigrants, etc. Clearly some very wealthy people valued Notre Dame more. But it’s their business how they spend their money, or not, and I think people don’t realize that it’s owned by France, NOT by the Catholic Church; rebuilding/restoring it should create lots of jobs; it’s got a big impact on tourism/revenues. Yeah, a lot of people forget it’s not JUST an old building or a religious building.

  2. Lizbeth Hartz

    Thank you for this poignant post. Personally, I think it’s wonderful that folks will restore this magnificent historical structure that means so much to so many, but wish the plight of the poor could somehow be helped as well. My favorite sentence from above: “Donations to rebuild her began to flow in almost as fast as the water that put out the fire that threatened to destroy her.” How poetic.
    Lizbeth Hartz recently posted…Scientist Jim Allison wins 2018 Nobel Prize for Cancer Cure #WATWBMy Profile

    • Holly Jahangiri

      Private money should be used as its owners see fit, in accordance with their values. It’s a shame when they value pricey cars and oversized or multiple homes over human beings, but it’s not really my place to judge them for it. Notre Dame means a lot to millions – and some of them are very poor. Notre Dame belongs to the world, in a way. It’s worth saving on principle. But even if we think that the money might be better spent on affordable housing or healthcare or whatever, I think that so long as the manufacture and sale of those “unnecessary things” supports human workers and their families, I’m okay with it. Whatever loosens the purse strings AND keeps the peace is a good thing.

      That said, the wealthy (and corporate entities) should contribute their fair share to the needs of the nation(s) in which they profit – through (in many cases) higher taxes. I’m a fan of a “mixed economy” – capitalist for what we WANT, socialist for what we NEED. Communism doesn’t work because we don’t “love our neighbor” and human nature has a greedy streak a mile long. We all have it in us, more or less, and it can serve as a fantastic motivator so long as it’s not so excessive that it’s merely cruel to others. Communism actually DOES work fine on a very small scale: a family, a commune, a kibbutz – but I think that a very KEY factor in that is CHOICE. Choice and some say, even if limited, in how things are run. But human nature also has a rebellious streak a mile long, and we chafe (rightfully!) at the bit.

      Some social services need to be provided more uniformly, consistently, and long term than any one charity can handle. We should not make beggars of people. There’s a cost to living in society – people shouldn’t benefit from it without helping to pay those costs fairly. We had the right idea with the WPA. once upon a time. Where there’s a will, there IS a way.

  3. Hilary

    Hi Holly – you’re right about the money being given and to whom they feel right. It’s great that Notre Dame will be rebuilt somehow … there’ll be lots of knowledge learnt, as well as passed on to the various craftsmen. Fire is desperate – thank goodness it wasn’t worse … and there are some incredible craftspeople around. It will recover, and France will (mainly) forget in a few years – as life goes on … there’ll be a story to tell as they work out how to rebuild. I like the way you’ve set the facts out, as well reminding us about the bees … and it’s a good #WAWTB … cheers Hilary
    Hilary recently posted…We are the World Blogfest # 24: Kugali – the African Comic Book …My Profile

    • Holly Jahangiri

      I do hope this give those “incredible craftspeople” a chance to shine. The contrast between the great, old cathedrals of Europe and today’s cheap pre-fab and boring architecture is heartbreaking. People are capable of so much, but that’s lost value as everything is commoditized and rushed to done. I look around and wonder what we’ve created, in our time, that’s worth uncovering by archaeologists in a century or four. Sometimes, I hope there’s not a lot to find, because so much of it is cheap junk.


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