Isaiah 58:11
and you shall be like a watered graden…

Reflection by Joy Owensby

Rain restores the earth after a drought. The barren, sun-baked soil once again sustains growth. Isaiah uses the image of a “well-watered garden” to illustrate the transforming power of love in our world.

I live in Louisiana, a land that calls to mind bayous, Mardi Gras, and gumbo. But my state is also the location for multiple immigrant detention centers. Within these camps’ high fences and locked gates, men and women from far-away places like Cameroon, Cuba, Eritrea, Kenya, Nicaragua, and Ethiopia languish. These people left their homes to escape life-threatening circumstances. They seek safety and an opportunity to thrive as human beings. Instead, they sit in prisons isolated from family, friends, and the simple comforts of a decent life. Months or even years pass as they wait for the Immigration Court to decide their case.

Instead of offering migrants and asylum seekers fertile soil in which to flourish, we lock them away, plant them in soil in which nothing can thrive. God dreams for a world where human beings thrive. We water this earth by living out our baptismal promises: to seek and serve Christ in all persons, to strive for justice and peace, and to respect the dignity of every human being. God pours abundant, healing love into our hearts so that we may pour out that same love upon the world. God’s love will saturate this world through our hands and feet.

In the Episcopal Diocese of Western Louisiana, one way we water the garden is through our detention center ministry, Allies for Immigrants. We pray for detainees and staff, respond to requests for spiritual resources, put money in commissary accounts, write letters to pen pals in detention, advocate for justice and humane treatment for asylum seekers, assist those released from detention in obtaining transportation, accommodations, clothing, and cell phones. In so doing, we align our vision with God’s vision and love like God loves. Day by day, God is watering the garden through the likes of us.

Questions for reflection:

  • How is our vision out of alignment with God’s vision for a world where all humanity thrives?
  • Where do you see drought resulting from injustice in your community?
  • How might you be called to help God water the garden?


Joy Owensby is Missioner for Formation and Community Engagement for the Episcopal Diocese of Western Louisiana. She helped organize and now facilitates Allies for Immigrants, a diocesan detention center ministry. She is also active in the Episcopal Asylum and Detention Ministry Network.

Allies for Immigrants:

Allies for Immigrants is a ministry of the Episcopal Church in Western Louisiana. Their purpose is to discern and respond faithfully as Christians to the needs of immigrants in detention within the boundaries of the Diocese of Western Louisiana. Click here to learn more.