Journal Entry: John Dalaly-12/13/2023-The Lord is My Shephard

Journal Entry

As I observe life within the federal prison camp at Hazelton, I can’t help but reflect on the stark contrast between our minimum-security environment and the adjacent high-security penitentiary. Before surrendering to this camp, I delved deep into research about federal prisons, and the stark disparities became evident. The high-security prison, with its gangs and violence, paints a bleak picture of incarceration—one that stands in stark contrast to my current surroundings.

This stark contrast brings to mind a powerful analogy from the Bible, one that reminds me of the importance of gratitude and the blessings I have received. In the Book of Psalms, particularly Psalm 23, we find the well-known passage: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

This passage serves as a reminder that even in the most challenging of circumstances, we can find solace and gratitude. It encourages us to focus on the blessings we have received rather than dwelling on the dangers and adversities that surround us. Just as a shepherd guides and protects his flock, so too does God watch over us, providing us with the strength and resilience to face the trials of life.

Within the prison walls, I am acutely aware of the dangers and challenges that exist in the high-security penitentiary that is only a short walk away from where I am at present. I do not mix or interact with the people inside the high-security prison, but from what I read before surrendering, I learned that gangs, violence, and a Darwinian struggle for survival are the daily realities for those incarcerated there.
It serves as a stark reminder of the path others live.

As I ponder these circumstances, I am filled with gratitude for the safety and relative peace I share with others in this minimum-security camp. The analogy from Psalm 23 reminds me that even in the midst of adversity, there is an opportunity to recognize and appreciate the blessings that have been bestowed upon me. It is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the capacity to find hope and gratitude, even in the face of challenges.

Rather than dwelling on the dangers that lurk beyond the camp’s boundaries, I choose to focus on my path toward personal growth and transformation. Perhaps with this new workbook I’m creating, I’ll be able to offer some hope and guidance to people that I’ll never meet—like people in the prison next door.
Mine is a journey guided by faith, hope, and a profound sense of gratitude for the blessings that have illuminated my life. We all can live in gratitude.

In a world where survival can become the sole focus, we still can strengthen ourselves with the spirit of gratitude. It is a choice—a conscious decision to acknowledge and appreciate the gifts that life has offered me, regardless of the circumstances that surround me.

As I navigate this unique chapter of my life, I am committed to living each day with a heart filled with gratitude. I will carry the lessons of Psalm 23 with me, reminding myself that even in the most challenging of environments, there is room for hope, faith, and thanksgiving.

In conclusion, I leave you with three critical thinking questions:

How can practicing gratitude, even in challenging circumstances, contribute to one’s resilience and overall well-being?

In what ways can we draw strength and inspiration from the Bible’s teachings, such as Psalm 23, to navigate difficult times in our lives?

How can we support and encourage those facing adversity, helping them find moments of gratitude and hope amidst their challenges?

As I move forward on my journey of personal growth and transformation, I am determined to embody the spirit of gratitude, recognizing that even within the prison walls, blessings can be found, and hope can flourish.