The Recovery of Joy

finding the path from rootlessness to returning home

Naomi Starkey

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'Recovering joy involves more than following our social codes and conventions. It involves walking with God at our right hand, step by step in the radiant light of his presence. It involves remembering that we have already arrived at our destination - the safety of our Father's house - even as we continue on the pilgrim road that takes us through life.'

The Recovery of Joy weaves imaginative story and profound biblical reflections on several of the Psalms to trace a journey that many of us will relate to. The narrative begins in rootlessness and despair and takes a wanderer across the sea to a series of islands. These are the setting for a series of events and encounters through which emerges a progression from that initial rootlessness, through healing, to a rediscovery of the joy of feeling at the centre of God's loving purpose for our lives.


  • Introduction
Part 1. Rootlessness
  • On the road
  • Dead end
  • The pathless way
Part 2. Respite
  • Green pastures
  • The blessing of sleep
  • No place like home
Part 3. Ruins
  • Into the depths
  • A desert place
  • A time to mend
Part 4. Release
  • Stuck
  • Freed
  • Cleansed
Part 5. Return
  • On the rock
  • Crossing the bay
  • The recovery of joy

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Author info

Naomi Starkey is a priest in the Church in Wales, living and working on the Llyn Peninsula. She was previously a commissioning editor for BRF, and edited and contributed to New Daylight and Quiet Spaces. Her other books include The Recovery of Hope (BRF2016), The Recovery of Love (BRF, 2012), Pilgrims to the Manger (BRF, 2010) and Good Enough Mother(BRF, 2009).


Evangelicals Now, May 2018, Review by Lindsay Benn

The blurb on the back cover claims that this book 'weaves imaginative story and profound reflections on a selection of Psalms to trace a journey that many of us will relate to'. This is a good summary of the contents.

I'm not a big fan of fictional Christian writing, but Naomi writes with endearing charm and describes the eventful journey of a troubled pilgrim trying to find meaning and purpose in life. Each chapter tracks the path of this pilgrim through traumas, dilemmas and moments of respite, with the reader becoming acutely aware that problems will ultimately have to be faced head on.

The oases of the Psalms

If you are struggling with the baggage that life throws at you, with unresolved relationship issues, or just exhausted with the 'what ifs' of life - you may find this book helpful. It is an easy read, and for me the oases were the reflections on the Psalms. I was moved once again by their astonishing relevance and the soothing balm that they offer as we cope with the pressures of 21st-century living. Realising that we can have God's help and that he will be with us every step on the untidy journey of life, brings healing and hope.

Lindsay Benn, church member, Northamptonshire

Church Times 22-29 December 2017: Review by Jenny Francis

Occasionally we can lose our way in life. The comfortable set of values which we have cultivated seems less relevant, and our overall strategy is no longer fit for purpose.Too easily, we may fall into a slough of despond. What was initially an insidious threat to mind and body becomes a desolate sense of rootlessness and alienation.

Naomi Starkey is an experienced author and a priest. This small book has been written to help with just these times in our lives. It is the third in her series of 'recovery of' titles, the others being of hope and of love, and as such, it offers a valuable, reflective companion to help us out of the cul-de-sac that threatens to trap the lost and rootless.

There are five Parts: Rootlessness, Respite, Ruins, Release, and Return. Each has three identically structured chapters. It is written using the pronoun 'we', and the reader becomes one of a small group embarking on a journey with no clear destination. As they travel together, appreciating that they had each almost come to a halt, their 'story of exile and rootless wandering eventually becomes one of purpose, maybe even pilgrimage.

There is a long tradition of spiritual wanderers setting out in faith in Christianity, as well as in other faiths. Some viewed this as an abandonment of self to God's purposes. Others viewed it as a kind of exile, leaving behind all that was familiar while having no purpose for the future. In this book, the author tells a story about travellers crossing the sea in a small boat. Somehow, guided by divine mercy through wind and waves, they sail from one island to another, and on each they find welcome and a learning experience. As the sailors learn more of themselves and of God, they also grow through the challenges set to test and guide them. We journey with them and, by taking time to meditate on each psalm, specially selected to aid our private prayer, we, too, find ourselves led from darkness to light, to greater self-awareness and insight. This journey goes from exhaustion to acceptance, and hence to the gift of God's healing as we all rediscover the wonder of what God has done.

This slim volume is a useful tool for our own personal devotion. A chapter a day provides just over a fortnight of thoughtful reflection on how to find our way back to the God of our creation. As the author concludes, 'no matter the pain we may yet have to face, no matter what the next part of our journey may hold, we have hope for tomorrow.' I am writing on Advent Sunday: we know that it is that hope that heralds the advent of joy.

The Revd Jenny Francis is a retired psychotherapist and a priest in the Diocese of Exeter

Book details

  • ISBN: 9780857465184
  • Published: 22 September 2017
  • Status:
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 128
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