I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” – Psalm 122:1 (NRSV)
Recently I spent time in Mexico City, studying its history, culture, art, and religion. It was intense, because I’d learned so little about Mexico in school and because navigating a city of 22 million people was daunting.
Once as I walked around the city’s historic center, it felt like half of those 22 million were also walking, driving, or selling something on the corners. By midafternoon, I was hungry, tired, and lost. Heading back to the hotel, I passed a small chapel with an open door. I looked in and saw a handful of people praying and lighting candles. I also saw that the chapel was built in the 1700s as part of a Franciscan school for Mestizo and Spanish orphan girls. Now it was dedicated to El Señor de los trabajos (“The Lord of the Jobs”) with an inscription from the Gospel of Matthew: “Vengan a mi todos. . . y yo los aliviare.”(“Come to me everyone . . . and I will give you rest.”) I went in and sat down in a pew.
The chapel was calm, peaceful, and beautiful. People came and went, some in business suits, some in street cleaner uniforms. Gradually the noise of the cars and the street vendors faded. I felt held by that sacred space and the centuries of prayers that saturated its walls.
“I was glad,” sang the psalmist, “when they said, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’” And I am glad for the generations of people who built and maintained such houses with their trabajo, amor, and prayers. Perhaps you are, too.
Gracias, Señor, por tus casas. Thank you, Lord, for your houses. Amen.