If. Then.

Cross:French FlagIf you ever walked New York streets shadowed by the Twin Towers…

If you ever stood on the west side of The Wall, gazing into the eyes of rifle-wielding East German soldiers…

If you ever gazed in wonder at Notre Dame or bought warm, crusty bread and tangy cheese from shops along French streets…

In grammar they’re called conditional sentences, if/then statements discussing things known (or supposed) and their consequences. And so when I awakened Saturday morning to scenes of flashing lights, screaming ambulances, fleeing, terrified people, white shrouded bodies, and a dazed woman being escorted to safety by a responder in his yellow striped jacket, then my mind rushed back to Notre Dame and warm bread and tangy cheese and I knew that all my memories of Paris had been forever changed.

I don’t ever want to walk New York streets without at least some memory of the lives lost, the bravery displayed, the hearts broken. When I look at my chunk of the Berlin Wall hammered out the summer of 1989, I don’t want to forget the two young men in our Bonn living room relating their escape under barbed wire fences and through muddy fields. When I eat warm bread and tangy cheese, I want to remember that this world is not safe, that I will never understand such tragedy, that I’ve been commanded to love my enemies, that God is still on the throne and he has entrusted peacemaking to me. To us.

“Nous sommes tous français.”
(Today, we are all French.)

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