Crown and cross
This crown of candles hangs above the choir stalls in the smallest cathedral in Britain if not in Europe. I am here to sing Evensong for the first part of Holy Week, returning home for Maundy Thursday. We stay in the adjoining college; it is very peaceful, very lovely. There is no television, no radio.
And it was here that we heard the dreadful news about Notre Dame de Paris - heard it in the way that disaster must have been heard of since speech began. A friend burst in, stood looking at us. “I’ve got bad news”, he said, and paused. And then he told us.
It was several minutes before people fetched phones and tablets as if to confirm visually what they had been told. But the first telling was so potent, so horrifying.
I am writing this in my bedroom in the College, beside the charred wood panel on the wall that reminds me that this precious place also went on fire once, when I was much younger. It was saved, restored. We build these beautiful, precious places to give a form to something inexpressible. The faith that creates also sustains. Tonight it must feel as if that is all we have.