A search for peace
Joe Wolfe remembers his five years in solitary confinement.
“It was a modern-day dungeon,” he said. “It was like living in a concrete bathroom.”
He eventually got out of prison, but what makes him happy today is that he also escaped the prison of the mind, losing his feelings of guilt, fear and regret.
He now reaches out to prisoners to share his peace of mind.
“I know what they are going through,” he said recently in an interview outside a coffee shop.
As the host of a prison ministry called Spirit Light Outreach, he distributes the seven books he has written about his personal experiences to help change the life of prisoners and those who could be headed to prison.
He’s also an ordained minister with Pathways of Light and has spoken at Unity churches and spiritual congregations all over the country.
A VENGEFUL PERSONALITY
Wolfe’s rough upbringing in Chicago included a harsh time in an orphanage where he received beatings and forged a hateful and vengeful personality, he said.
He later led a life on the street where juvenile crime led to armed robbery and a sentence in a maximum security prison.
“I did not grow up around loving people,” he said. “My family was street thugs.”
In prison, he had a penchant for escape attempts and this resulted in solitary confinement.
Wolfe was released from prison at the age of 31. He married, went to work and led a normal life for 18 years, but then turned to alcohol and drugs.
Wolfe had several spiritual experiences in his life and had done a lot reading on the subject and been involved with spiritual groups.
At 50, he was encouraged by others to read a book called A Course in Miracles. He discovered that what he was missing was “authentic forgiveness,” which includes forgiving yourself, he said.
Joan Baliker, an Ormond Beach artist, met Wolfe at a meeting of A Course in Miracles, which is a self-study spiritual thought system.
“He’s found happiness and now he’s sharing it,” she said. “So many people search for happiness in the wrong places. They are afraid to look within.”
Now 66, Wolfe has been writing books and reaching out to prisoners for a decade. Prison newsletters advertise his offer to help, and prisoners write letters to him if interested. He also hopes to be able to visit prisoners in the future.
Each morning, he stops by the beachside post office to pick up letters from prisoners or others.
“The prisoners want to know about this ‘God stuff,’” he said with a smile. “I send them a message that they are worthy and can change.”
He also offers help to the “needy,” those down on their luck or anyone who wants to hear his message.
Wolfe said everyone has spiritual experiences and they just need to recognize them.
“God has a special purpose for everybody,” he said.
Wolfe moved to Ormond Beach from Chicago in January after being invited by the leaders of A Course in Miracles to lead classes here.
“The peace of God is having the conviction that God is closer than by breath,” he said. “God is here. He always has been. The peace of God is profoundly comforting.”
Visit spiritlightoutreach.org or call 708-985-1754.
IF YOU GO
Love is the Only Answer, a benefit for the needy and prisoners
With Carol Howe, Joe Wolfe and the music of Donna Marie Cary
10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 5
Unitarian Universalist Church, 56 Halifax Ave., Ormond Beach
Suggested donation is $69. (No one will be turned away for lack of ability to donate)
Registration at the door but for guaranteed seats, see the Events page at spiritlightoutreach.org.
“So many people search for happiness in the wrong places. They are afraid to look within.”
JOAN BALIKER, local artist