Journal Entry: John Dalaly-12/23/2023-Lessons from Hazelton

Journal Entry

As I continue my journey at Hazelton, serving my 28-month sentence, I’m reminded that life unfolds for a reason, even in the most unexpected places. There’s a deep sense that, despite my current circumstances, a higher power has intervened to protect me from something unseen. It’s a thought that lingers day and night, especially as I yearn for my wife of 47 years, our three children, and eight beloved grandchildren.

Within this diverse community, individuals have arrived due to a variety of white-collar crimes or are on their path toward rehabilitation. Recently, a fellow inmate named Ray bid farewell to the unit, taking steps toward reintegration into society. It’s a poignant reminder of the fluid nature of this environment.

My current bunkmate, whom I’ve playfully dubbed “The Constant Eater,” never seems to cease munching and is a diligent worker. It’s a small example of the camaraderie and adaptability that exist within our community. In this setting, titles and professions are stripped away, and we all don the same uniforms, emphasizing the importance of humility in every step we take.

Throughout my stay, I’ve embraced various opportunities for personal growth. I’ve joined several classes, ranging from faith-based programs to parenting workshops and real estate courses. Additionally, I’ve secured a paying job, earning $70 per month washing lunch and dinner trays. It’s a humbling experience that reinforces the idea that we can all find humility in unexpected places.

The absence of fresh fruit, a simple napkin, or even a toothpick has heightened my appreciation for life’s small pleasures. Each time I’m blessed with an apple, it’s a source of pure joy. It serves as a daily reminder of gratitude for the basic necessities we often take for granted. My heart swells with thankfulness for the provisions provided by the Divine.

During my time here, I’ve immersed myself in literature, including a poetry book by Kahlil Gibran. His verses guide me through life’s intricate tapestry, touching upon various aspects of existence—love, children, marriage, health, happiness, living, and dying. His words offer profound insights into the human experience and how to navigate its complexities.

Another book, “Rediscover Catholicism,” authored by a priest, delves into the changing landscape of our culture and its impact on faith. It prompts us to contemplate life’s decisions, family, and the essence of walking with God in a modern world. The book serves as a reminder that we often turn to God when we slip and fall, but we should express gratitude daily, even hourly, for the countless blessings that grace our lives.

With every step I take, I’m reminded to say, “Thank you, God.” It’s a simple yet profound practice that keeps my heart open to gratitude in every moment, regardless of the circumstances.

Biblical Reference: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Critical Thinking Questions:

  1. How have unexpected circumstances or challenges led to personal growth or new perspectives in your life?
  2. What role does humility play in your interactions with others, and how does it impact your relationships?
  3. Can you share an experience where gratitude for simple pleasures enhanced your outlook on life?