Gazing toward the roof of Notre Dame Cathedral I asked myself, what are those distorted statues and waterspouts . . . why such odd sculptures on top of a beautiful building? Later as I read about these medieval rainspouts and statues, also known as gargoyles and grotesques, I discovered their purpose.
During the 12th century when Notre Dame was built, literacy wasn’t an option for most people. Consequently images became important. Some historians believe these half-beast, half-human caricatures symbolized the vices and weaknesses of man. They not only stood on cathedral rooftops to serve as decorative rainspouts, but were there to warn the onlooker of the evil around them. The more dreadful these figures appeared on the outside, the more serene and secure the observer would find the haven inside.
Today’s reminders of man’s wickedness are in a different form. The stony icons from medieval times have been replaced by a daily bombardment of media messages. News coverage about present day events echo humanity’s corrupt values. Reports of terrorism, murders, violence and abuse propel me to take a news break–a respite from the negative headlines. I search for a haven, a hiding place. Not a man-made sanctuary, but a place where I can find a few moments of solitude surrounded by God’s presence.
Inside my quiet refuge He changes me. Renews my mind. Refills my spirit. Restores my soul. Refreshes my strength.
Empowered once again to do His will–to be salt and light