Tragedy

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We were at a work event for my son’s job this afternoon when I found out that the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris was on fire. Just the view on the computer screen with the white smoke, the bright orange flames licking the stones and rising higher and higher was speech stopping; it was mind-numbing to me. I have a sensitivity to viewing buildings burning. I think it brings me to 9/11, it brings me to California wildfire devastation, and with television and social media it brings it literally into our fingertips.

As of this writing, I believe the two towers have been saved even though the spire collapsed. One of the rose stained glass windows was destroyed, but three remained. The statues that had been on the spire were removed four days ago as part of the renovation. The art, artifacts, and holy relics were saved after being removed during the fire. These are all good things.

This church is nearly one thousand years old. The person who laid the first stone was not alive at its completion. As it has been before, it will be rebuilt because like the church of people remains in perpetuity, the building will be repaired, rebuilt, and it won’t be the last time. The idea, the ideal of the church family lives on in the people who will return to Notre Dame.

In the meantime, we can mourn the physical building as we mourn the death of a loved one and know it will rise again.

I have never been to Notre Dame in Paris, France, but my son visited while on a school trip in his senior year in high school. Knowing how close I am to my own local church and my Catholic devotion brought this home for my souvenir from his visit, ironically also during Holy Week. It sits on my bookshelf where I look at it every now and then, and after seeing the cathedral burning, upon coming home I took this pewter replica in my hand and turned it over, touching the carvings, pressing on the spire, tracing the cuneiform. It was sad and comforting at the same time. (c)2019

Fire Safety

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This week is Fire Prevention Week. My son, who recently graduated from Fire Fighter I had two Fire House Open Houses this past weekend. Local firefighters came to my daughter’s elementary school to talk about fire safety, show the kids the equipment to expect the firefighters to wear, and gave out pencils and fire extinguisher sharpeners. It’s a good way to get the kids involved and to ask their parents questions to keep the whole family safe.

Some suggestions and important things to remember:

1. Do you have smoke detectors on every floor of your house? And inside every bedroom?

2. For second floor bedrooms, do you have an escape ladder or fire escape for your apartment?

3. Do your smoke detectors work? (A good rule of thumb is to change your batteries twice a year – when you change your clocks for Daylight Saving Time, change your smoke detector batteries.)

4. Before you go to bed, clean and straighten your house. Make sure there is a clear path to your exits.

5. Have a meeting place that is away from your house that even the youngest children can remember and find.

6.  My mother always had an emergency bag next to her bed. In it, she kept a flashlight, an emergency phone list, a bottle of water, an extra set of prescription medication, and sometimes a cell phone. I don’t think she ever used it for an emergency, but being prepared is still a good plan to have.

7. Get out of the house, and THEN CALL 9-1-1 from a neighbor’s house or from your cell phone.