Monday morning was busy but I had time to go home for lunch. As I got home, the news was reporting smoke coming from the Notre Dame Cathedral. I got busy for the next 45 minutes but before heading back to work, I looked over at the television with my wife watching it. The spire at the cathedral had just collapsed.
I had an appointment at the office that required me to go back, but I could not help but worry that it was 9/11 all over again. I wondered how the world was about to change.
Though the news evolved that it was a fire that was caused by accident (at least we hope), I was still saddened by the loss of an 850-year-old historical landmark of the world. It is one of breathtaking beauty and of significance to so many people for various reasons.
That coming weekend was Easter. My wife and I traveled to Wichita to be with our grandson (as well as my son and his wife). Alex is now 20 months old. It always seems that when I am around him, he puts so many things in perspective.
That Sunday we were visitors at a church, with Alex in tow. One of the points of the message actually dealt with Notre Dame. Something that we can build and be so proud of can disappear in a moment.
The last couple of weeks I have had two difficult cases. One was with a family dealing with very advanced cancer. It had just come at a time when everything seemed to be working out perfectly for the family. Now life was taking a new direction.
Another family was dealing with dementia that snuck up on them. The husband had always been the strong one and was now struggling, and he knew it. He knew his time was limited. The children were struggling both with their dad that was struggling with his own frailty, as well as with their mother trying to guide her chronically ill spouse through this process.
Each case reminded me about how fragile life can be, but the one constant in both cases was the relationships of the family members with each other. Frankly my breath was taken away. It was all I could do to keep my eyes dry.
The church service reminded me that while Notre Dame was great, and even perhaps it will be rebuilt, it is our relationships that are most important.
And so it is with Easter. For many it is a difficult time understanding the Easter meaning. I do not want to get into the religious philosophies, but for me it is about a new beginning. It is a new life.
That weekend I got to take Alex (my grandson) on two different Easter egg hunts. At almost two years old, the eggs were fun to put in the basket, and equally fun to take out and throw. What he enjoys most was running over to his grandfather (and I suppose his parents as well).
While the eggs in our life may be important at the time we get them, what is important is the new beginning that we have each day with those with whom we have relationships.
While I am optimistic that Notre Dame will be rebuilt (and some will say will never be the same), I know that our spirit will continue on. Because our spirit is not stuff; it is the not the little eggs we pick up on Easter; it is the hugs and the time we have together.
I hope that the two families I met will remember that. I hope I do as well.