The moment you hear that undeniable cadence, you can't help but stand a
little taller, your spirit immediately boosted as you drink in the harmonious toll.
Is there any place in the world where the peal of a bell means so much?
I speak, of course, of the bells of Notre Dame de Paris,
ten trumpets that enlighten us 365 days a year with
the promise of Joy to the World.
A pulsating hum, a reverberating hymn that cannot be missed.
Heavy Metal never sounded so good.
For over 800 years, Our Lady of Paris has stood,
mother ship to believers the world over.
But Notre Dame Cathedral is not just for the devout.
Often a first stop for many of the 70,000,000 people who visit Paris each
year, it's the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for those who have long
dreamed of hearing her bells, lighting a candle, or grooving with the gargoyles.
You've seen this Gothic masterpiece all your life -- on calendars, postcards
and on the pages of history -- and you'll know you've really arrived in the
City of Light the moment you thrill to the enchanting refrain that rings pure Paris.
The world's most imminent cathedral has so many features,
it's impossible to take them all in during one, three, or thirty visits.
Your field of vision gets muddled by one masterwork after another -- statues,
murals, pillars, windows, doors... certainly too much to absorb in just a few visits.
The darling of countless photographs, sketches and paintings over the centuries,
it's possible that when you finally get your first look,
you might get an initial feeling of "been there, done that".
But if you take your time and really study this divine work of art -- one treasure
at a time -- you'll soon see that Notre Dame de Paris is worthy of its acclaim.
summer day in the middle of the heavy tourist season.
The cathedral was packed with families, children buzzing in their naturally rambunctious state -- when suddenly, a voice sounding how we think
God should sound -- you know, sort of like The Wizard of Oz -- made an
announcement that thundered theatrically throughout the acoustically perfect nave.
I don't recall His exact words but I'm pretty sure it was an elegant way to say
"shut up" or perhaps, "wait until your Father comes home".....
The Voice had an immediate and chilling effect.
Aretha Franklin couldn't have conjured up more R-E-S-P-E-C-T even on her best day.
But then that's Notre Dame Cathedral -- a place so unworldly,
all fall to their knees in awe and wonderment.
Imagine medieval stone cutters -- likely seven or eight generations of families
toiling over the 200 years it took to build -- grinding away, their brave
efforts just a minuscule part of the big picture.
Did they take it as their responsibility toward their Creator?
Did they know that in 2015 alone,
over 20,000,000 visitors would see their work?
Artisans who carved Bible stories above the immense doors -- or those who
carved the Kings of Judah -- their heads mistakenly lopped off during the
French Revolution (impassioned masses mistook them for french kings) --
Did they realize the world would come to their door 800 years later?
Consider all the baloney and foolishness posted on the internet
these days -- shameless selfies, hateful rants, political blather, etc.
We're told it lasts for all eternity -- but just how long is that and does it matter?
Eternity on the worldwide web seems small somehow,
stacked up next to Notre Dame's 800 year history, a rock solid miracle.
Our Lady of Paris is The Real Deal, standing the test of time -- both
rewarding and humbling -- and ably demonstrating what really matters.
the history of Paris out-delivers Notre Dame.
Think of the famous people who have passed through its great doors.
From popes to heads of state to movie stars, everyone wants to
feast their eyes on this glorious piece of Paris.
- It was here that Napoleon crowned himself Emperor in 1804.
- Joan of Arc was beatified (and later canonized) within these great walls.
-The French Revolution renamed the great cathedral The Cult of Reason,
stealing nine of the ten original great bells and melting them down for cannon.
- At one point, N-D became so obscure, it was reduced
to little more than a storage shed for food and wine.
- Daredevil Philippe Petit walked the wire between its two towers.
- Author Victor Hugo, inspired to write his best-selling 1831 novel
"The Hunchback of Notre-Dame", inspired the people of Paris to save it from ruin.
The list of great moments is endless -- undoubtedly with many more to come.
My vote for wish-I-was-there-moment:
Notre Dame held a special mass to celebrate the liberation of Paris in WWII.
Accounts of sniper fire and stray bullets allegedly marred several windows
and yet, can you imagine the thrill of hearing Emmanuel* toll on August 24, 1944?
*All 10 bells have their own names.
and climb the 387 steps to the best view in Paris.
But if you have a touch of claustrophobia (like me) and detest
narrow, winding steps with sweaty people in front of and behind
you (like me), then forget about it.
You'll avoid the long lines and have more time to poke around the interior.
The crowds can be intimidating but if you visit in the early evening (around 6pm), they'll quickly dissipate just in time for 6:15 mass.
Even if you're not Catholic, it's lovely to sit and absorb heaven's light
in the world's most well-known cathedral.
Put away your camera, gut your "to do" list.
Quietly reflect and give thanks for the privilege of sitting among the angels.
Just think, you're a stone's throw away from the Crown of Thorns
and remnants of the Crucifix (inside the treasury).
Then consider this.
Building began in the 10th century.
The magnificent minds and talent who conjured up this immortal work
built a body that measures twenty stories high with seating for 9,000 congregants.
Contemplate the inventiveness, the odyssey of designing and installing
flying buttresses that hold up the heavy walls and impossibly high ceiling.
Appreciate the light reflecting in the church's gorgeous stained glass windows.
Built on the site of a Roman temple,
you can also tour the archaeological crypt below.
It harks back to the time when Paris was still called Lutèce.
The center of the world.
Well, almost -- at the very least, it's the center of Paris.
Officially, this is Point Zero, where all distances to and from Paris are measured. Look outside for the medallion that marks the exact spot.
Being a grownup.
There's never enough time to get everything "done".
When life sometimes feels like it's flashing by too quickly,
maybe the universe is telling you to slow down.
Reflect, let the clock stop.
This is a good place to do that.
Eight hundred years of human activity puts it all into perspective.
Notre Dame Cathedral
Hear the bells ring and cherish the moment.
It's not just "for whom the bell tolls" but the who, what, when, where and why.
Listen and feel your spirit re-discover the joy.