St Peter's 13-18
As we start a new term, it’s good to be on the lookout for signs of hope. That’s especially the case this year as we’re starting the job of teaching and learning from kitchen tables and bedrooms all over the world. This is, of course, going to be something of an adventure that we take both separately and together but my guess is that we are all looking for little signs of things returning to normality.
One of the little signs of hope that I spotted last weekend was the series of Easter services held at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. It’s now been a little over a year since fire tore through parts of the building and destroyed much of the roof. Then, on Good Friday, with just one or two other people, the Archbishop of Paris led a service in the Cathedral during which he would return what is thought to be part of Jesus’ crown of thorns back onto the altar. It was little sign of hope that things are returning to normality in the middle of the wreckage.
One of the most famous stories about the Cathedral is that about Quasimodo, brought to the attention of many children in Disney’s film The Hunchback of Notre Dame but originally from the 1831 book by Victor Hugo. The story is of how an unwanted child is left by his parents in the Cathedral and found by Frollo, the Archdeacon of Notre Dame, who teaches him to ring the Cathedral’s bells. The sound of the bells eventually deafens him and prevents him joining in with normal society. Only his love for the beautiful Esmerelda brings him comfort, friendship and hope.
It feels very odd this morning that my day hasn’t begun with the sound of the School Chapel bell calling us to morning prayer. But yesterday was Quasimodo Sunday … yes, it really is a day in the church calendar and that’s where The Hunchback gets his name from. Quasimodo came from the Latin text, “Quasi modo geniti infantes…” in the first letter of St Peter who wrote, “Like newborn infants …you may grow into salvation.” His words, and indeed the stories of Notre Dame and Quasimodo, are a reminder that eventually things do start afresh and return to normal. The Chapel bell will ring again and we will all be gathered together again. Until then, may you find plenty of moments that bring you comfort, friendship and hope.