I have seen far less information circulating about what occurred to the mosque in the same time, that seemingly, every news outlet in my Midwestern American town reported on the Notre Dame. I understand a larger part of the Cathedral may have burned, but I think it is a very sadly missed opportunity if people are not able to see that both these events happened on the same day.
For those of us who believe in God, it may be hard not to think of this as some sort of sign or omen. Whatever it is, it has the potential to draw billions of peoples attention to these buildings, and thus the religions, and their history. I think that is incredibly needed. In researching for this post I have already learned so much about the placement of the Al-Aqsa and its significance in Muslim, Jewish, and Christian history.
Also, if we interpret this as a sign from God, so much more could be interpreted that would show we are together, spiritually.
According to Abu Labda as reported by the Israel Times, no objects of religious significance were lost in the mosque. I thank God for that so much. From that article it appears children may have accidentally started the fire, so I hope they are okay and safe.
As for the Cathedral, I am far from Catholic so I did not understand the significance. I have heard in class that it supposedly housed pieces of the Crown of Thorns, and a piece of the cross Jesus was crucified on. I could have a whole other discussion on the preservation of artifacts and the political and economic aspects of museums and churches in the western world. I may find it hard to completely believe that these objects contain pieces that touched my Savior.
But I know that other people do. I know that these were hugely important symbols to people, so I am so glad for their and my sake that the Crown and Cross were saved.
I also mourn for the people who worshiped or visited Notre Dame or had emotionally valued what was in there and what is lost. I am so sorry.
And I mourn for the people in Jerusalem if anything from the mosque or any part of those buildings were harmed that I have not yet seen.
It shouldn't have to take sacred buildings burning for us to pay attention or feel empathy.
Also, if more did burn at Al Aqsa or burns in the future, I want the Muslim community to know that I and anyone who considers themselves a loving Christian, as long as I am willing, I will be there with you, physically or in my prayers. I will hold your hand. I will stand by you. I will defend what you love just as I would if my church was burning.
Also to France and Jerusalem I hope everyone is okay mentally and physically after the fires. I have seen how the trauma of watching a place like a home or place of worship burn can change a person. It's a horrifying thing to see.
Also I think these events will probably bring attention to what is and has been happening in Israel, which I think all people should be aware of.
The Al Aqsa mosque is on the hill where the original Jewish Temple mentioned in the Bible once stood. That also has incredible emotional value to me and I know many others.
As a religious person, I do not know what to make of yesterday. But I know that constantly in my life and in my family's life going back generations, fire is a pretty big deal. Not only does it alert people, of course due to our survival instincts, but it shifts people's worlds, kills and makes new life, causes mourning, or freedom.
I know many people have been saying 'oh the world must be ending', to which I will look at the texts and get back to you, but if we think back to last year and the year before with all the natural disasters and tragedy, the world kept going then too. Even if it sadly stopped for some people.
That's the thing. I don't think the world is ending, I think we are becoming more aware of other people's lives. I think God, someone or something is trying to get our attention.
We could use that as an opportunity to live, love, and work together.