I saw this cartoon on Facebook and thought it was a fun way to think about Easter. For those of you who may not be familiar with Schrodinger, he was an Austrian physicist who created a hypothetical thought experiment. It involved placing a living cat into a chamber with a hammer, a vial of acid, and a small amount of a radioactive substance. If there was any decay of the radioactive substance, a relay mechanism will trip the hammer which will break the vial of acid and cause the cat to die. The observer doesn’t know whether that decay has happened and so doesn’t know whether the cat is alive or dead…so, the cat is both alive and dead until someone looks in the box.
So…what about Jesus? Dead or alive? or dead and alive? or …?
We know he died. And we also know he is alive–whether that is a physical life, a spiritual life, or life in us. And so that’s why I am amused at this cartoon…I hope you are, too.
But regardless…I wish you Easter blessings of peace and joy…and hope!
The fire at Notre Dame is out and we are beginning to see pictures of the damage…which, while horrific, is not as severe as everyone feared. Some of the significant works of art and relics were saved, and the main organ appears to have survived. The smaller organ may not have been as fortunate, but that is yet to be determined. And it appears that what is left of the cathedral is structurally sound.
Praise God for the firefighters who battled for hours, sometimes risking their lives, to save as much as possible of the cultural, artistic, and spiritual symbol.
And I am grateful for the many people who have stepped up to donate for the rebuilding of Notre Dame.
But it also makes me wonder.
What is it about this building that has caused such an outpouring of financial support?
What about the many other needs? These are just a few:
The black churches in Georgia that were burned because of white nationalism?
The people of Puerto Rico who are still struggling to recover from their last hurricane?
The people of Flint, many of whom still do not have clean water?
The immigrants who are trying to find a better life for their families, but who instead have often found their families torn apart and still have not been reunited?
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t help Notre Dame. But if Notre Dame calls us to worship Christ, then that call is to
feed the hungry.
visit the sick and those in prison.
clothe the naked.
take in the stranger.
Buildings are important symbols…but they are just that. If their meaning is of value, then we need to live out what they call us to.
The first time I ever heard those three words was in a slightly different order (Is Paris Burning?) when I picked up a book about Hitler’s determination to destroy the city during World War II. The city survived–and has flourished.
Today, the city…and the world…is in mourning. The beautiful historic symbol of faith and France–Notre Dame–is in flames, even as I type this. The spire has fallen, the roof has collapsed, evacuations are being ordered because of fears that the walls may collapse outward…
A building that has stood for 600 years as a testament to the power of faith…that has touched many with the art and music that has come from it…that has survived multiple wars and bombings…is now being lost to us.
It is ironic that the fire is occurring during Holy Week. Perhaps it is an irony that can cause those of us who claim Christianity to better understand the feelings of those early apostles during the first Holy Week.
Yesterday was a day of celebration…the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Towards the end of the week, the faithful will be being reminded of the dark days when it seemed that everything Jesus stood for was lost…that there was no future. I am sure that is how many are feeling right now as they watch the flames.
And yet…something new arose from the ashes of that first Holy Week. And that same faith can continue to cause us to hope that something new will arise from these ashes. It’s far too early to know what that might be…but faith does not die because a building is lost.
Faith is a trust…a belief…in something that cannot be seen. It is more than hope. It is more than buildings. And so, even as we mourn this loss–just as the disciples mourned the death of Jesus–we trust that a new day will dawn…that something new will arise from the ashes.