Notre Dame

It was a Sunday morning in the second week of June, 1983. I had just gotten out of my sophomore year of college, and was on the trip to Europe I had been saving for since I was 14.

For the first three weeks, I was in Europe – the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland and what we used to call West Germany (kids, ask your parents) – with the Jamestown College choir. I’ve written about the choir before – it was the little college choir that could; at one point, it had been rated as one of the three best small college choirs in the United States. And 11 years earlier, 1972, it had been the first American choir to be allowed to sing at Notre Dame.

It was 11 years later – a period that doesn’t seem so long anymore. We were getting ready to sing one of the big masses on Sunday morning.

And I had a horrible cold.

And for a beautiful, glorious hour and change, I didn’t care.

The cathedral was built centuries before amplification – and yet the spoken voice carried clearly through the sanctuary; it seems like you could hear every congregant praying, individually, as you sat in the choir.

And singing?

It was one of the most sublime musical experiences of my life.

After the mass, the cold reasserted itself. I needed sleep. I found a cabinet in the basement that looked like it’s been there for hundreds of years, and was covered in dust that looked like it remembered Napoleon. I didn’t care; I slept for two hours and got i shape for the afternoon concert – a full performance for the afternoon audience of worshippers and tourists.

And in that room that had been built halfway between Leif Erickson and Christopher Columbus, I stood and sang and marveled at the sheer acoustic glory of the whole experience.

Not my choir.

I was still sick – but I wasn’t going to waste a gorgeous summer Sunday in Paris. I went to rhe Louvre – because who goes to Paris without going there? – and then got intentionally lost in the Latin Quarter, spending a few hours wandering around quite happy not to know where I was or what I was doing.

I knew I could find my way to the Seine river – and of course, the spire at the Cathedral was almost always visible, wherever I was.

I thought about that the other day, as I watched the spire come crashing to the ground.

And that’s really the last I want to think about that image.

12 thoughts on “Notre Dame

  1. One of the most beautiful pieces of work I’ve ever seen, the 12 Stations of the Cross, is located in Notre Dame and I fear it is forever lost. The cathedral truly is an awe-inspiring monument. Only those who’ve actually seen it for themselves will know. It’s a sad day for the world to lose such a precious monument.

  2. It is one of my great regrets in life that I never got to see this amazing structure in person. While I grew up Catholic, I no longer practice the faith or consider myself Catholic (long story). I still consider myself a Christian though and what I saw earlier this week almost moved me to tears. Even though it is promised to be rebuilt, what has been lost is truly irreplaceable though.

  3. Macron declared it was not terrorism before the fire was out, which of course means they think it was terrorism.

    France has had a rash of church burnings the past few years…all complete accidents, of course.

    It doesn’t matter, really, they could have found an ISIS flag stuffed into a gas can and they’d never tell. There are too many muzzies in Europe to risk upsetting them; no telling what they’d do. And there aren’t enough balls in Europe to fill half a man-sack so they’d pretty much do what ever they wanted to do.

    Enjoy your slide shows, but keep your yaps shut.

  4. It will be the United Islamic Republic of Europe by 2050 at the latest. Just look at the birthrates. The capital may be Paris, but thats TBD. Europe is voluntarily not having babies to the point of their own extinction, nevermind being below replacement levels (I dont think its been above them since the 70s) simple math.

  5. Go ahead, call me a conspiracy theory spewing bigot…
    “The question becomes, which Notre Dame are you actually rebuilding?,” he says. Harwood, too, believes that it would be a mistake to try to recreate the edifice as it once stood, as LeDuc did more than 150 years ago. Any rebuilding should be a reflection not of an old France, or the France that never was — a non-secular, white European France — but a reflection of the France of today, a France that is currently in the making.”

    How about a nice combination coffee & vape shop/mosque/childcare center?

  6. Child care center? Lol, that was denialist as hell. I meant madrassa, of course.

  7. Mitch, I am so jealous of you singing in Notre Dame. What a memory! I saw it a few years earlier and like you coming in off the prairie, it was amazing. Two years of sitting in HS French class staring at the poster, I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. May the French rebuild the Church while rebuilding the Cathedral. Unlikely but I will pray about it.

  8. One of the major differences between Americans and Europeans is their sense of history. A church in France might be 850 years old and no big deal – there are plenty of old churches. Aqueducts and amphitheaters built when Scots were still blue-painted savages, are all over. The locals pass by them everyday.

    Aside from Indian ruins, the oldest buildings in the United States are barely 400 years old and they’re churches built by European missionaries. Our culture doesn’t have enough history to appreciate it.

  9. He was hoping the pastor could change them into wine.

    Totally innocent. Nothing to see here.

  10. Bosshoss, were at like 1.8 or 1.9, most of Europe is 1.5 or below. They are much worse off.

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