Today’s Flaneuring post is by Samantha Loesch. Feel the refreshing rain fall as she takes us through her neighborhood in Mexico City and reveals the source of her hope.
I spend a lot of time on the roof of my apartment. From there, laid out in front of me is a metropolis called “The City of Hope” . . . maybe that’s why thousands flock here each year, pushing the greater population of the city closer and closer to 25 million . . . for hope.
During reprieves from the season’s persistent rain and hail, I mount the final stairs to the top of the building. Standing at over 7,000 feet above sea level, the short journey always leaves me short of breath. I take several gulps of the brisk air that smacks against my cheeks before making my way towards the edge. Since living under the smoggy, polluted skies, I’ve come to appreciate the rain. It freshens the air and tears down the thick, low hanging curtains over the valley that hide the surrounding mountains from view. I take in another mouthful, knowing it won’t be much longer until the soot returns and dirties the inside of my nose and ears. Beneath my feet, the red painted rooftop bakes in the sun. My skin warms as I linger and I peel off one of the extra layers I always seem to be wearing. And finally, I look out.
There’s something about being so far above the traffic jammed streets that helps me see more clearly and make sense of their chaotic melody. A chorus of car horns plays alongside the sing-songy chatter of the romantic language that I work so diligently to master. Rising above are the calls from young men selling tamales from their bicycles, the swift ringing of a hand-bell to signal garbage pick-up, and the long whistle of a passing camote cart. From around the corner, the wail of a lone saxophone grows as it serenades those sitting at the restaurants’ outdoor tables.
The wind picks up, lifting and mixing the scents from those same restaurants and food stands. Just several doors down, a stern woman presses fresh tortillas through an old machine, depositing tall stacks into thin, plastic bags for the line of people crowding the sidewalk. Some are mothers, holding the hands of their uniformed children with perfectly gelled hair returning from another day of school. Others are construction workers with worn boots and dirt stained pants from the building project down the street. Several steaming kilos will make their way to my corner store. Other stacks will be used to catch seasoned, flame-licked pork cut away from a pineapple-topped trompo.
I pull my eyes up, away from the views that so captivate me, to look towards the sky. The first raindrop splashes off the tip of my nose as dense, dusty blue clouds quickly tumble closer, choking out the light from the setting sun. The approaching darkness reminds me of the deep hurt and darkness that scars my city: results of violence, mistrust, and injustice. I’ve witnessed it and mourned it, but I also celebrate the hope that exists in spite of it.
When I see young girls standing on dimly lit street corners, waiting to be chosen out of a line-up by men behind tinted car windows, I can have hope. When I pick up my phone to read urgent notices about disappearances, deaths, and demonstrations, I can have hope. When the world around me looks broken and all feels hopeless, I can yet have hope.
People are being drawn to this city for a glimpse of that hope; but I came because I already have it. I serve a God who is hope; a God who raises beauty up out of ashes, grants gladness in the place of mourning, gives liberty to captives, and offers praise to those of a faint spirit. He is the One I call out to; He is what the city is desperately longing for and only He can fill its deepest needs.
So as I stand here on my rooftop, looking out over a broken city, I can see beauty – because I see Hope.
Samantha lives in the center of Mexico City and works with an EFCA ReachGlobal team to bring the hope of the gospel to her community and city. One of the team’s initiatives is the restoration of under-aged and abused women rescued out of human trafficking. She is passionate about living intentionally within her community, developing discipleship relationships with young ladies, and being a continual learner of the culture (especially when that involves tacos or pozole). Samantha enjoys photography and the way it acts as an invitation for others to join into her story and challenges her to find beauty in crowded city streets…or from rooftops.
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