You Are a Tree: And Other Metaphors to Nourish Life, Thought, and Prayer – Joy Marie Clarkson

You Are a Tree: And Other Metaphors to Nourish Life, Thought, and Prayer by Joy Marie Clarkson
Also by this author: Aggressively Happy: A Realist's Guide to Believing in the Goodness of Life
Published by Bethany House Publishers on February 20, 2024
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life
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"That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither--whatever they do prospers."--Psalm 1:3

Sometimes we describe ourselves as trees. When we're thriving, we speak of being rooted and fruitful, in a good season. When we struggle, we might describe ourselves as withering, cut off from friendship and the world. These ways of describing ourselves matter because they shape the ways we live.

But in a world dominated by efficiency, we have begun to use more unforgiving metaphors. We speak of ourselves as computers: we process things, we recharge. In doing so, we come to expect of ourselves an exhausting, relentless productivity.

You Are a Tree examines how the metaphorical descriptions we use in everyday life shape the way we think, pray, and live. Weaving together meditations on our common human experiences, poetry, Scripture, and the Christian tradition, Joy Marie Clarkson explores how metaphors help us understand things like wisdom, security, love, change, and sadness.

This book invites you to pay attention--to your experiences, and to the words you use to describe them. That attention reveals a richly layered and meaningful world, a refreshing perspective that nurtures wonder, gratitude, and hope.

"Extraordinarily creative and beautifully written, You Are a Tree is a soul-stirring companion to life in God's world that will enrich the spirit of all who read it."--DAVID ZAHL, author of Low Anthropology

This unique, thoughtful book explores the significance of metaphors for the human life. Joy Marie Clarkson explains that the way we think and talk about ourselves shapes our expectations and affects how we live. For example, she points out that even though metaphors about computers and machinery sometimes describe human processing and behavior, these metaphors can also have negative implications, implying that we should expect ourselves to be able to perform the same way at all times, are valuable because of what we can accomplish, and are disposable and replaceable. You Are a Tree is full of thoughtful reflections about human nature and spiritual realities, encouraging people to consider how the language they use shapes their sense of the world.

Each chapter focuses on a different metaphorical theme. Clarkson explores concepts like love, safety, and sadness, drawing on Scripture, literature, and personal stories to explore how different metaphors represent complex realities. Each chapter also includes recommendations and descriptions of art and other writing to engage with related to that chapter’s theme. Throughout the book, Clarkson meditates on how language both represents and falls short of embodying life’s complexity, and she shares wise reflections on spiritual truths.

You Are a Tree: And Other Metaphors to Nourish Life, Thought, and Prayer is different from anything I have read before, and I really enjoyed it. This book is somewhat meandering, but in a good way. It feels like having a philosophical conversation with a friend, and the book is full of wise insights and encouraging applications for dealing with different challenges in life. Also, even though this book will primarily appeal to people who are interested in language and philosophical concepts, there is nothing pretentious or overly academic about it. Clarkson’s writing is beautiful and highly readable, and her heartfelt personal stories will resonate with many people.