top of page

The Christophers: Jesus, the Metaphor Master

Tony Rossi, Director of Communications

 

To nurture her faith and follow a path toward flourishing in life, Joy Marie Clarkson began viewing herself—and all human beings—using a tree metaphor. She drew her inspiration from Scriptural passages, such as Psalm 1, which states, “The blessed person will be like a tree which is planted by streams of living water, which bears its fruit in season, and all that it does prospers.” But Joy also realized that there are other metaphors used in the Bible that can guide humanity. She discussed some of them during a “Christopher Closeup” interview about her book, “You Are a Tree: and Other Metaphors to Nourish Life, Thought, and Prayer.”

Metaphors are crucial to our spiritual lives. Joy observed, “[They] allow us to speak about God, but they keep us in that posture of wonder and humility knowing that we can’t contain Him in words.” And Jesus is a metaphor master who refers to Himself as “the Way, the Truth and the Life” and the “Light of the World,” among other things. In fact, the imagery of light as wisdom – and darkness as ignorance – is common throughout the Bible and in our everyday language. You might describe a person as “dim,” for instance, or as “brilliant.” 

Joy said, “Especially in Proverbs and in the wisdom literature…God is characterized as both light and the source of wisdom. That gives us a way to think about wisdom…that it’s not just factual knowledge…but it’s a sense that wisdom is a…source of illumination that allows us to proceed in a wise way…It means being oriented towards the source of wisdom, oriented towards God, and also having a sense of clear perspective on things.”

Another metaphor Joy addresses is that of sadness being heavy or a burden. In Matthew 11, Jesus says, ”Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest…For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Joy observed, “[Jesus] doesn’t say you will have no burdens or you’ll have no yoke. He says that the burden you’ll carry will be light, that I can carry it with you…For life to be meaningful, there is a sense that we have to carry burdens. To love somebody, to have children, that comes with burdens…But that creates what Augustine describes as the weight of love. These burdens [of love] that we carry actually keep us on the path of life. They give us a gravity to life that moves us forward. But we, in the Christian life, need to know that we don’t bear those burdens alone, so there’s the sense that Christ bears our burdens…In Galatians, it says, ‘Bear each other’s burdens so you fulfill the law of Christ.’ So, just like Christ bore our burden of sin and of death, we get to image Him when we bear each other’s burdens and help each other carry things that are too heavy for us.”

Ultimately, Joy hopes that people who read “You Are a Tree” will realize ”that our everyday experiences – looking at a tree outside our window, watching the sun go set in the afternoon as it falls across our living room, climbing up a hill, carrying something – all of these experiences, which are very basic to human beings, give us ways to think about ourselves, to think about God, and to think about the world. [They] remind us that the world is shot through with meaning and with integrity because God is always speaking to us through the world.”

To nurture her faith and follow a path toward flourishing in life, Joy Marie Clarkson began viewing herself—and all human beings—using a tree metaphor. She drew her inspiration from Scriptural passages, such as Psalm 1, which states, “The blessed person will be like a tree which is planted by streams of living water, which bears its fruit in season, and all that it does prospers.” But Joy also realized that there are other metaphors used in the Bible that can guide humanity. She discussed some of them during a “Christopher Closeup” interview about her book, “You Are a Tree: and Other Metaphors to Nourish Life, Thought, and Prayer.”

Metaphors are crucial to our spiritual lives. Joy observed, “[They] allow us to speak about God, but they keep us in that posture of wonder and humility knowing that we can’t contain Him in words.” And Jesus is a metaphor master who refers to Himself as “the Way, the Truth and the Life” and the “Light of the World,” among other things. In fact, the imagery of light as wisdom – and darkness as ignorance – is common throughout the Bible and in our everyday language. You might describe a person as “dim,” for instance, or as “brilliant.” 

Joy said, “Especially in Proverbs and in the wisdom literature…God is characterized as both light and the source of wisdom. That gives us a way to think about wisdom…that it’s not just factual knowledge…but it’s a sense that wisdom is a…source of illumination that allows us to proceed in a wise way…It means being oriented towards the source of wisdom, oriented towards God, and also having a sense of clear perspective on things.”

Another metaphor Joy addresses is that of sadness being heavy or a burden. In Matthew 11, Jesus says, ”Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest…For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Joy observed, “[Jesus] doesn’t say you will have no burdens or you’ll have no yoke. He says that the burden you’ll carry will be light, that I can carry it with you…For life to be meaningful, there is a sense that we have to carry burdens. To love somebody, to have children, that comes with burdens…But that creates what Augustine describes as the weight of love. These burdens [of love] that we carry actually keep us on the path of life. They give us a gravity to life that moves us forward. But we, in the Christian life, need to know that we don’t bear those burdens alone, so there’s the sense that Christ bears our burdens…In Galatians, it says, ‘Bear each other’s burdens so you fulfill the law of Christ.’ So, just like Christ bore our burden of sin and of death, we get to image Him when we bear each other’s burdens and help each other carry things that are too heavy for us.”

Ultimately, Joy hopes that people who read “You Are a Tree” will realize ”that our everyday experiences – looking at a tree outside our window, watching the sun go set in the afternoon as it falls across our living room, climbing up a hill, carrying something – all of these experiences, which are very basic to human beings, give us ways to think about ourselves, to think about God, and to think about the world. [They] remind us that the world is shot through with meaning and with integrity because God is always speaking to us through the world.”

 

For free copies of the Christopher News Note APPRECIATE THE BEAUTY AROUND YOU, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: mail@christophers.org

0 views0 comments

コメント


bottom of page