The Notre-Dame still rings: Why hope prevails during a pandemic
On April 15, 2019, I remember standing in the newsroom as the newspaper staff stared at the TV, mouths open in shock, as we watched the Notre-Dame de Paris burn. The fire came “within 15 to 30 minutes” of destroying the beloved symbol of faith and the world stood astounded as it witnessed the iconic cathedral, with origins in the 12th century, nearly go up in flames.
While the smoke settled in the days that followed, Parisians lined the banks of the River Seine, holding hands and singing hymns with candles in hand as they mourned the near loss of the Notre-Dame Cathedral, a long-standing symbol of their national identity and a site for all the world to visit.
On April 15, 2020, in a world now shaken by a global pandemic, the Notre-Dame bourdon sounded again on the anniversary of the fire. This marked the second time the bell has sounded since the fire and the first time in 2020, according to Good News Network. For five minutes, the ringing bell paid tribute to both the resilience of the cathedral and the medical professionals fighting the pandemic.
As the bell rang, Parisians came to their balconies and windows to applaud and cheer on the medics on the frontlines of the virus. The bell’s toll served as a reminder that we are all in the fight together, as the cathedral’s reconstruction continues during the pandemic as they work toward hosting Easter mass by 2024.
“The restoration of Notre-Dame … is a symbol of the resilience of our people, of their capacity to overcome hardships and to recover,” French President Emmanuel Macron said.
Since March 24, light artist Gerry Hofstetter has projected illuminations of national flags and other images on the side of Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps. On April 15, the Matterhorn was illuminated with the American flag for a few hours as a “symbol of solidarity” during the pandemic.
Symbols such as these remind us that, though we are apart, we are never alone. They guide us to tomorrow and push us to continue. In times like these, when there is a shortage of good news, we must cling to hope.
Helen Keller wrote a lot about hope. Blind and deaf since childhood, Keller had every reason to be hopeless about life. Instead, she lived a life of purpose and meaning because she had hope that things would get better, even if not on this earth.
“Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye,” she said. Keller also said, “… Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”
People with hope behave differently than the hopeless. Without hope, we retreat into ourselves and become depressed and despondent. With hope, we have confidence and purpose as we work toward a brighter tomorrow.
Hope is an investment in the future. We work with the hope that we will reap a reward for our labor. We dream with the hope that one day our plans will come into fruition. We believe with the hope that our children will have a better future. Much of life is spent waiting and hoping for the things to come.
On a Sunday morning over 2,000 years ago, Mary, the mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene thought their hope expired when Jesus died. Had all he promised ended on the cross?
In grief and despair, the women went to the tomb early in the morning with the intent of anointing Jesus’ dead body with spices.
They were without hope as they mourned their beloved son and dear friend, who promised to save them. They thought his plans ended in the grave, despite his many reminders that he would rise again. Nothing within them expected to find an empty tomb and a resurrected savior.
When they reached the tomb, they were astonished to find a rolled away stone and folded burial cloths. An angel told them, “He is not here; he has risen.”
The women were amazed and forever changed because hope had reentered their lives. They immediately ran to tell the disciples the good news: the tomb is empty, as he said it would be; our savior lives!
Their hope led them to spread this message across the globe and the world was never the same. Hope changes everything.
Hope is waiting with anticipation that something better is on the horizon. To be a Christian on this side of heaven is to be full of an enduring and confident hope, knowing that what he said will be accomplished, even if we cannot yet see it.
As Christians, we have hope because we know this world is not our final destination.
Paul told the Roman church that creation waits with anticipation as we eagerly wait for the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8). Paul told the Corinthians that if we hoped in Christ only during life on earth, then we are to be most pitied.
We do not place hope in what the world offers – uncertainty, chaos, confusion, pain. Instead, we have hope in the promised life to come, where all our hopes will reach their fulfillment.
In the days, weeks and months ahead, and until the day our hope is finally realized, humanity must hold onto hope. It is in times like these that hope must prevail.
Emily Wood is the Editor-in-chief. Follow her on Twitter @EmilyRWood17