It hasn’t been in the news very much of late, but if you remember back on April 15, one week before Easter, Notre Dame cathedral burned. Countless people around the world watched in real time as the spire fell and many more saw the pictures and clips in the days that followed. It was a heartbreaking tragedy that could have been even worse than it was if not for the work of the firefighters and leaders at the cathedral who worked against time to stop the fire and save what they could. As a result of their hard work the cathedral still stands, and people from around the world have donated a lot of money towards reconstruction efforts.
Naturally, from the first sign of smoke there were questions about what happened and how it could happen and if it could have been avoided. The investigation is still ongoing and they don’t have all the answers yet, but several key discoveries in the investigation thus far lead to exactly where it was first assumed it would: people and accidents.
One of the hardest lessons we have to learn in life is the lesson of imperfection. We can design all the tools, plan all of the steps, practice possible scenarios, and put in place all of the check ins, but we have to take into consideration factors that may be beyond our control, be able to read the data, and have the manpower to follow through on things, not to mention taking into account things like empathy, compassion, and emotions before making decisions or taking actions.
In other words, there’s a lot we can do to make sure that things go well and are handled with care and consideration of all involved, but nothing and no one are perfectly predictable or able to outmaneuver all of the factors beyond our control, and some times accidents happen; that’s why they’re called accidents.
When we screw up, when mistakes happen, when mother nature takes over, we have the choice of learning and growing from the experience, or we can let it destroy us. The truth is there are so many things to be celebrating about the fire of Notre Dame, like no one died, much of the culture and treasures in the building was saved, and the whole building didn’t fall down. The full story of Notre Dame isn’t written yet, just like our stories aren’t fully written yet. What will your next chapter hold?