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Promised Land

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When the Israelites first went into the Promised Land, they were leaving behind such a desolate and barren place. A place that had brought them so much pain as they had wandered through it. They had all suffered so much and most of that came from their own unwillingness to truly submit to God and place their complete and total trust in Him. They wanted to do things their way and refused to be grateful for all God had done for them. They had blinded themselves with their own selfish desires and had come to expect these things to be given to them. Because of this, they had been left to wander through the barrenness for so very long but finally God was bringing them into the land He had promised. Finally they were going to see all the Lord had for them.

The past few years I have shared many stories of my experiences in the garden we have here. What began as such a small and barren patch, that we dug up with broken sticks and plastic jars, has now become a lush and beautiful garden that stretches from one end of the recreation yard to the other. It is filled with vegetables and herbs of every kind, all growing together on earth we worked with our own hands.

For me this is so much more than just a garden. For me it represents my promised land. In so many profound and beautiful ways this is what the Lord has shown me. It is a reflection of my own life. In it, I see the ways He took my brokenness and nurtured it into something able to bear fruit and bring joy. Something that instead of only darkness and sorrow now contains light and life. It represents for me who I have become in Him.

Just as I have worked relentlessly in the garden, so has He in my life. And just as I have refused to give up, no matter how hard the task has been, neither has He ever given up on me. The places my heart had been hardened by things of this world, He dug deep until those places broke apart and began to sift through His hands. He then planted seeds that broke open and began taking root deep within my heart. As the tiny plants surfaced, new life was revealed. They are His promises to me…to us all. Promises of hope and redemption. Promises that if I cling to Him, He will use my life in ways beyond anything I could ever imagine or conceive. Like a before and after picture, this garden reflects my life.

Sometimes I will close my eyes and see Him there, tending to the garden of my heart. His hands so patiently and gently working to weed out the things that are not of Him. The things that threaten to wrap around the life-giving roots that grow beneath the surface. I watch as He showers every inch with His grace and mercy. He is always tending and nurturing my heart as His very own garden. This is what we all are; our hearts are His to tend to. They are His garden and our promised land. Where there is life, there is hope. 

Brittany Holberg is an Oblate of the Sisters of the Morning Star. She is housed on Texas Women’s Death Row.

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