Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Light Amidst the City

Written at the end of first email reflection sent out from Chile on January 17th, 2012. 

Slowly I will find incomplete answers to these questions even as more spring up, and yet I do not believe in a God of coincidence but rather in a God of Love. A God whose love brought me to this place to prepare me and use me. For God has heard 'el pueblo' cry , heard it cry from the inequality of schools in Chile, to the empty bowls of the indigenous poor in Guatemala, heard it cry from the tears of ravaged mothers in East Los Angeles to the unfulfilled dreams of dreamers in East Harlem, and God has and slowly continues to use weak, calloused hearts and hands like my own and your own in the creation of a kingdom of love and justice. Many of these kindred hearts I have already come in contact with here in Chile, hearts in which I will rest, learn, and be born a new to my own calling. Pray my brothers and sisters back in Los Angeles and across our world that I might have the courage to every morning begin a new by offering my calloused hands in this majestic project, and offer your hands with me as well. This common endeavor  is the greatest testament to our connectedness, and will transform our world. 

Know that you are all deeply loved and carried. 


I leave you with a poem I wrote after a long day of community organizing in East Los Angeles, a poem that I find applicable to my time so far amidst Santiago's urban reality, where skyscrapers and world class subway systems coexist alongside broken dreams, and marginalized communities:

Light Amidst the City 
by Carlos Rodriguez 

Yellowish Skies 

Tired Eyes

A poor woman's 


  Plastered on the flat screen 

Lining one's retinas 

her poverty 

unmistakebly caused 

by her unlucky presence 

in a space 

whose marketing 

does not produce enough 


for the giants you see 

towering above you 

ready to kill you 

What can you do for this 

woman when your own 

fears exist? 

How can you tell her 

to organize, to ask for her 
due, when your own smallness 
scares you at the face 
of such giants? 

And then in a moment 


unbearable weight 

the light of the
catches you 

in its radiant arms

- Listen 

I am the God of the 

Poor, I am the God of 

this light- 

Strive for there is more 

light in the depth of a 

poor woman's heart 

then in the brick of 

a robotic giant- 


Description of Following Posts.

The posts above are a collection of poetry and prose that I deemed appropriate for this Blog.

They are an effort to connect spirituality, my own and that of my fellow human beings, with the depths of the urban struggle around the world.

Most of the posts will be reflections written during my time growing up in Los Angeles, my time as a student at Loyola Marymount University traveling around Latin America and Vietnam, my time as an organizer in Los Angeles, my recent experience as a two year Jesuit Volunteer in Santiago, Chile, and my up and coming experience as a graduate student in New York City. 

The posts will either be my own writing or writing that inspires me to continue accompanying the struggles of the urban impoverished around our world. 

Why this blog?

Why this blog?

'' The Atacama Desert of northern Chile like most physical deserts is a place of great surprises. In the midst of its apparent aridity and lifelessness it has provided human beings with the greatest view of the universe available on earth and its copper and other mining resources have brought great wealth to the Chilean economy....

This desert challenges assumptions and surface judgments and that is what this blog hopes to do...

...years ago while organizing campaigns around violence prevention in East and South LA, stories of teachers or police officers demeaning kids as having no possibility of success because of the neighborhoods they lived in, became all to popular...

...just as in  the desert there are Urban Neighborhoods/Poblaciones in cities across our world that are perceived to have nothing to offer...

...when in reality they are tabernacles of great hope...

...I too come from the urban desert of cousins lost to gang violence and uncles undergoing deportation procedures...

...If our societies are to develop so that all have the ability to achieve their potential...

...They must stop ignoring the desert voices....

...Voices echoing from the working kids on the outskirts of Quito, the troubled mothers a midst the projects of Nickerson Gardens, the high school mentors in the Poblacion of Nogales in Chile, the singing indigenous children undergoing racial injustice in Central Vietnam, the broken lives of the non tourist streets of New York City, and many more spaces that offer us a face to face encounter with both raw brokenness and raw hope...

....there are many already listening attentively to these desert voices...

...there needs to be more...

...our humanity, our salvation, is intertwined with the fate of these urban communities...

...this Blog seeks to use poetry and prose to tell their story...

-Carlos Rodriguez