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Can I Laugh On Your Shoulder?

Feb 28, 2024

I am so incredibly excited to sit down with Joy Clarkson in this week’s episode. Joy wears many hats - from being a research associate in theology and literature at King’s College London to serving as the Books and Culture Editor for Plough Quarterly.

Completing her Ph.D. in theology at the University of Saint Andrews, she's also the face behind the popular podcast Speaking with Joy and the author of several books, including her latest release, You Are a Tree, which we chat about today.

This conversation was so rich, and it was such a delight to unpack some of the powerful metaphors found in scripture together. I hope you join us as we learn more about the inspiration behind Joy’s new book and talk about how God uses imagery and nature to help us better understand ourselves, our relationships, and the mysteries of life.

7:06 – Joy 101

  • Living in Scottland and teaching theology in London
  • Joy’s books and podcast
  • Joy’s love for tea, music, and baking

13:03 – The Origin Story for Joy’s book

  • Frequently relocating as a child
  • Joy’s lifelong connection with trees
  • Living in one place for 27 months
  • Exploring trees in Scripture 

18:50 – Nature’s Lessons

  • The profound metaphors found in nature
  • God’s intentional creation
  • The 7 metaphors explored in Joy’s book

26:44 – Metaphors of Mystery

  • God’s intentional design woven into creation
  • Embracing childlike wonder to see God’s presence and intentionality
  • Using metaphors as tools to describe the mysterious aspects of creation

40:59 – Final Takeaways

  • Unpacking “love is a disease”
  • The metaphors of trees and travel
  • Connecting with Joy


“Scripture itself… it's not just a rulebook…doesn't give us a bunch of abstract, philosophical truths about God- it draws on our experiences of the natural world, and our experiences of light and height and depth, to help us understand ourselves and our relationship with God.”


“I think metaphors kind of keep us open to the many facets of things and the mystery of being alive.”


“We are created to belong in this world, and to have a relationship [with] it and to find meaning in it.”


“To be in the world and to flourish we do need to have roots, we do need to be like a tree and stay in one place. But even the best tree human life is still a temporary life and we still have this sense of belonging for a home that isn't here."

Learn more about Joy:

Check out You Are a Tree:

Check out Aggressively Happy:

Speaking with Joy podcast:

Joy on social media:

Connect with me:


Barnes & Noble:





Indie Bound:


About Can I Laugh On Your Shoulder?

Can I Laugh On Your Shoulder? Podcast is a weekly podcast where we have honest conversations about faith, business, life, and everything in between. Hosted by speaker and author, Molly Stillman, her mission is to make you laugh, cry, and laugh till you cry. She wants to create a community of people who are unafraid to be themselves and have honest conversations about the things that matter most. Her vision is to create a safe space for people to explore their faith and share their stories and gifts with the world.