Journal Entry: John Dalaly-12/24/2023-Reflections from First Week Inside

Journal Entry

One week down, and the contrasts between my life here and life at home have become unmistakably clear. This community, much like the outside world, encompasses the spectrum of good, bad, and ugly. It’s an eclectic blend of stories from all corners of the country and even beyond, providing me with a unique and unexpected education.

The Good: Learning from Diversity

In this setting, I have the privilege of meeting faces I would never have encountered in my regular life. Each person here carries a story, a narrative of their journey that has led them to this place. It’s an invaluable education that opens my eyes to the diverse tapestry of human experiences. Listening to these stories, I gain a broader understanding of the world beyond these prison walls.

The Bad: Missing Home and Family

However, there’s no denying the shadow of homesickness that looms as the holidays draw near. Being away from home, especially during these moments, is an unmistakable hardship. Yet, even in the midst of these challenges, small rays of light break through. I recently received a few pictures of two out of my eight cherished grandchildren, and those snapshots of joy are priceless. They remind me of the love that awaits me beyond these confines.

The Ugly: The Simple Things We Miss

In this environment, we come to appreciate the simplest pleasures that we often take for granted in our everyday lives. It’s the small things like a slice of tomato, a slice of cheese, or even a toothpick that we long for. The commissary, our source of these small comforts, has been closed for two weeks now, and supplies are dwindling. It took a full week to secure the medications I need for my blood pressure. Yet, despite these challenges, I’m filled with gratitude every day.

I have a bed to rest in, and three meals to sustain me. It’s a humbling reminder that even in the face of adversity, there are reasons to be thankful. While I miss home and family gatherings, I hold on to the hope that someday, I’ll return to those moments of togetherness and the taste of the simple joys that make life beautiful.

Biblical Reference: “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Critical Thinking Questions:

  1. How have unexpected circumstances or challenges allowed you to gain a deeper appreciation for the small joys in life?
  2. Can you recall an experience where you found unexpected connections and learning opportunities in an unfamiliar environment or community?
  3. What role does gratitude play in helping individuals navigate difficult situations and maintain resilience?