when man reaches up towards Heaven…

“Spira, spera.”
(breathe, hope)
Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

The day we met,
Frozen I held my breath
Right from the start
I knew that I’d found a home for my heart…

I have loved you
For a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more…

(Lyrics from Christina Perri A Thousand Years)

(Pieta by Niccola Coustou / Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2019)

Notre Dame—Our Lady of Paris

850 years of–



colored glass





Yet for now, there are too many emotions to express regarding this collective sense
of sorrow, grief and loss.

Our frail and feeble earthly attempts to reach upward to God will each eventually perish
while fading to both ash and dust…

and yet…

Our Heavenly Father’s reach, downward to us his children, will remain for eternity…

(detail of Virgin and Child by Antoine Vassé / Norte Dame Cathedral / Paris, France/ Julie Cook / 2019)

(detail of the iron work on the main entrance doorway / Norte Dame Cathedral / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2019)

(detail of the central portal (central enterance) of Notre Dame Cathedral / The Last Judgment, constructed in 1220/
Julie Cook / 2019)

(vaulted ceiling of Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France/ Julie Cook / 2019)

(South Rose Window / 1260 / Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France / Julie Cook 2019)

(South exterior of Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2011)

(detail of flying buttresses and gargoyles / Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2011)

(detail of bell tower / Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France/ Julie Cook / 2011)

(south view of Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2011)

(Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France / 2011)

(Wesrtern facade of the bell tower entrance Notre Dame Cathedral /Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2011)

“He therefore turned to mankind only with regret.
His cathedral was enough for him.
It was peopled with marble figures of kings, saints and bishops who at least
did not laugh in his face and looked at him with only tranquillity and benevolence.
The other statues, those of monsters and demons, had no hatred for him –
he resembled them too closely for that.
It was rather the rest of mankind that they jeered at.
The saints were his friends and blessed him; the monsters were his friends and
kept watch over him.
He would sometimes spend whole hours crouched before one of the statues
in solitary conversation with it.
If anyone came upon him then he would run away like a lover surprised during a serenade.”

Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

22 comments on “when man reaches up towards Heaven…

  1. atimetoshare.me says:

    This is a lovely tribute, Julie. How lucky you are to have actually seen this masterpiece of architecture, filled with so much more than art and beautiful trappings. Any time a church is destroyed we weep for the building, but the true church is us. Today we weep for us and pray for God’s restoration. These things will all pass away, but God will remain forever.

    • I’ve been fortunate Kathy— I first visited in the early 80’s as a young teacher taking a group of art students to Europe’s art capitals— then decades later with my aunt when I was still teaching art and then finally last fall when I shared it with Gregory— someone I was listening to last night posed the question— and I’ll paraphrase- with so much of Europe becoming so secularized— these massive ancient bastions of Christian faith are becoming more and more like museums rather than houses of worship— as everyone is now clamoring to rebuild— what are we rebuilding? Are we rebuilding a museum that lost so much art that can never be replaced or are we rebuilding a church, a house of worship?… I find that to be a very key question for our post modern Christian selves —

      • atimetoshare.me says:

        We need to get to the center of the matter. Christ is the cornerstone and we are the building blocks. He is the vine and we are the branches. As long as we place him at the head of our worship, nothing else matters. He doesn’t need great works of art and ornate decorations. He deserves them, but certainly He is the core. We often worship a building rather than God and maybe that’s the truth in all this. We need to put our focus back on the Creator of all.

  2. SharaC says:

    I thought of you last night and I just knew you’d have some wonderful pics and words to share. I wrote on my Instagram last night as well, “spira, spera”… thats all I could do. Thanks for these beauties… may God be glorified and may the true church rise from all these ashes.

  3. lynnabbott says:

    A tragic loss of art and architecture… as artists, you and I most certainly grieve. As Christians, we know that although the building is destroyed, the church lives. Beautiful tribute and perspective, dear Julie! ❤

  4. Thanx for all the pics and your response to Kathy’s thoughts.

  5. Tricia says:

    Such a tragic loss of an iconic and stunningly beautiful church. Thanks for your post and pics Julie.

  6. Salvageable says:

    Beautifully done, Julie. It’s hard to look at your photographs and not mentally add yesterday’s flames. My sixteen year old daughter was trying to say yesterday that nothing was actually lost in the fire since we have photographs of all the artwork. She was quickly corrected. J.

    • Thank you my friend—yes, there was a great deal lost—we can’t get back nearly 800 year old melted stained glass nor can we get back priceless paintings that adorned the myriad of chapel niche walls…nor the staturay lost, or whether the pulpit or any artful woodwork can be saved since the water and smoke damage…

      To stand before such and in the middle of such that is so much larger than ourselves quickly reminds us how small we truly are.

      I can only imgine that conversation you had with your daughter 🙂

      We the believers actually know that nothing was really lost yesterday…but yet I wonder …what message was there that many may not glean…

  7. Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging and commented:

  8. Citizen Tom says:

    My wife been there, seen the place. Your post gives me some idea why she feels the lost she feels.

    • Places like Notre Dame represent man attempts of transcendence — whenever you ‘experience’ such a place, you are touched in a unrecognizable place buried deep within the primal place where the Creator’s fingerprints remain— much like a potter’s fingerprints on a fired piece of pottery

  9. phyllissnipes says:

    Heart-breaking loss. It’s encouraging to see so many rally in an effort to restore whatever can be restored. Yet on this morning, Resurrection Day, our faith and hope still rise to the heavens. Blessed be the name!

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