About Tom

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About this blog’s title. Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot is a work of profound insight. The phrase appears in the first, Burnt Norton:

Here is a place of disaffection
Time before and time after
In a dim light:  neither daylight
Investing form with lucid stillness
Turning shadow into transient beauty
With slow rotation suggesting permanence
Nor darkness to purify the soul
Emptying the sensual with deprivation
Cleansing affection from the temporal.
Neither plenitude nor vacancy.

That speaks to me when I reflect on my calling.

My primary vocation (since the year 2000) is visiting men in prison as a volunteer chaplain. Most maximum security prisons have areas of isolation and administrative segregation, often called solitary confinement or “the hole.” It is in those areas where I go door-to-door to listen, encourage, challenge, or simply be present.

Being incarcerated can lead to frustration and a loss of hope. Everything can look bleak; life can seem lonely and without meaning. So, I journey with them, and I find the experience of encountering the forgotten, the abandoned, and those despised by society, to be at once an immense challenge as well as a blessing.

It is important to say that the last thing we talk about is faith or religion … unless an offender wants to. I’m not there to push anything upon anyone. There is whole world out there to be illuminated for those without radio, TV, regular access to newspapers, magazines, few quality books. And it’s a good visit when there can be smiles and laughter on both sides of that solid steel door.

A book is underway to share some of my experiences in this ministry. The working title: When Prison Becomes A Better Place – Holding The Pieces Together Through Grace

Fishing, walking, running, hiking, reading, writing, blogging, writing and reading poetry, and  listening to classical music and NPR, all help keep things in balance. Family includes my wife, two adult children, and three grandchildren. This thing called retirement can be quite busy and very rewarding.

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2 Responses to “About Tom”

  1. angelsportion Says:

    I enjoyed the information and will be looking forward to following.

  2. Virgilio Gavia Says:

    you’re doing a great work,Tom. keep it up! and thanks for the visit. nice blog you have here.

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