As a writer, I abhor a cliché, and I am no fan of idioms and proverbs. I prefer my words fresh and perhaps a little startling. I like words that wake us up and rattle our usual ways of thinking and seeing.

We say if these walls could talk, but what if the creaky floorboards have more important things to declare?

We say a man’s home is his castle, but are there alligators or swans in the moat?

The design magazines and remodeling shows describe a house as an escape or a retreat or a refuge, but I worry that such a house can never be hospitable. How can we welcome the stranger if we are preoccupied with raising our metaphorical drawbridge? How can we love our neighbor if a home is a kingdom of privacy?

hospitality_castle

And it isn’t only the dinner party that tests such a limited view. Even parenting is a kind of hospitality. Whether we are raising foster children, or adopted children, or the children born to us, we are opening our doors to needy people with whom we may have little in common.

The complications and discomforts we often wish to escape may be the very things that make a house a home.

Since my nieces and nephews lost their father in January, I have continually assured them that my home is also their home. I believed it, and I meant it, but I don’t think it felt real to me until I stood my oldest nephew up against the yardstick nailed to our kitchen doorframe. I marked a line with black marker at the top of his head, then added his name and the date. Later, I did the same for his younger sisters and baby brother, just as I do each year for my own four kids.

castle

Because home is the place that shelters us as we grow.

Sometimes terrible things happen, and we long for escape. We cry out for refuge. We say, “Where is my safe place?” Since January, I have wanted only to gather my family and pull up the drawbridge. Now I see that this, too, can be a kind of hospitality. We may not be able to fortify ourselves against sorrow or sickness, but we can cultivate places where it is okay to be sick or sorrowful with others whom we love.

If our harried and hurried world has little patience for head colds it has even less for mourning. But with the drawbridge up, we have time and space for suffering and rest, grief and joy.

Perhaps my home is my castle.

It is only that the walls are so much wider than I thought.

Christie Purifoy / Posts / Blog

Christie Purifoy earned a PhD in English literature at the University of Chicago before trading the classroom for an old farmhouse and a garden. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and four children, where she is witness to the seasonal beauty of God’s good creation. Her book Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons is out now from Revell. She blogs at www.christiepurifoy.com

  • Jody Collins
    Jody Collins
    https://jodyleecollins.com/

    “the walls are so much wider than I thought.” Sometimes I think the walls are invisible or movable, encompassing a family across neighborhoods, cities, statelines and oceans. You captured that idea well, Christie.
    May God continue to grace all of your family as you heal from the loss of your brother in law Shawn.

    July 6th, 2016 9:13
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    • Christie Purifoy

      Movable! Yes, so true. Thank you, Jody. I am always so grateful for your thoughtful responses.

      July 6th, 2016 10:10
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  • Mary Bonner
    Mary Bonner
    http://www.marybonner.net

    Thank you, Christie…this spoke volumes to me today. You are such a gifted writer and Gracetable is benefiting from your talent!

    July 6th, 2016 9:38
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  • Susan Shipe
    http://hopehearthome.com

    I love that you added your nieces and nephews to your grow wall. LOVE THAT. And, as I read those words, I thought every time someone comes and seeks refuge in our guestroom, with twin beds set toe-to-toe, and they are willing to share our one bathroom, I must record their stay somewhere. A plaque, a guestbook, or perhaps the creaky floorboards imprint the dna of their steps. 😉
    Love this post and blog.

    July 7th, 2016 9:30
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    • Christie Purifoy
      http://www.christiepurifoy.com

      A guestbook is a great idea. We have one here at Maplehurst. I never remember to ask guests to sign, so I leave it on the desk in the bedroom and hope they leave a note before they go.

      July 7th, 2016 9:51
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  • Lynn D. Morrissey

    Hi Christie,
    I’m in the midst of my own writing project, so I haven’t been reading blogs of late (oh my how hard that is to do), but this title attracted me, and then I found out this was your post, so I read on. I can’t imagine the pain of what you all are enduring with the loss of your brother-in-love, Shawn. And what a refuge Maplehurst is becoming to your nieces and nephews. I think that you, as their aunt, hold such a special place in their hearts and that you have such a precious opportunity to share the love and respite of Christ with them. I know I love ministering to my own nieces and nephews. It’s almost a grandparent role, in a way. We just welcomed Michael’s niece and neph-in-law and their seven kids (five children and two goats) over the July 4th weekend. Part of me almost said no when she made the request–partly b/c of my writing project, and also, because though we have spacious rooms, we have no spare bedroom (that is my office). I wasn’t sure where we would put them all; but children are very adaptable. Mike put up a tent in the basement, and the children were clamoring for who would get dibs on that! I can’t begin to tell you how special this time was for them and for us. I know that what you are doing is helpful and holy. Your castle is right now God’s refuge and fortress, protecting them from the assault of pain and depression. And why is that? It’s because I know you have made God your castle and your refuge, and you are sharing His heart with those you love. And how I love these verses from The Message Bible: (2 Samuel 22) “God is bedrock under my feet, the castle in which I live, my rescuing knight. My God—the high crag where I run for dear life, hiding behind the boulders, safe in the granite hideout; My mountaintop refuge, he saves me from ruthless men. I sing to God the Praise-Lofty, and find myself safe and saved.” May the Lord continue to be bedrock under your feet and your family’s. May you continue to run into His safe castle and find comfort, strength, and life. May I also recommend to you a “castle” book that has ministered to me devotionally? It’s called Our Mighty Fortress: Finding Refuge in God by Joan Esherick. She applies all the castle rooms and parts to our spiritual life. I found her metaphoric application fresh and insightful. May the Lord bless you and hold you and your precious ones close, Christie.
    Love
    Lynn

    July 7th, 2016 9:31
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    • Christie Purifoy
      http://www.christiepurifoy.com

      Lynn, Your comment is so timely for me and the words and Scripture you share echo with other words that have recently been shared with me. So I am listening! Also, I immediately ordered that book. It sounds like exactly what I need. Thank you.

      July 7th, 2016 9:52
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      • Lynn D. Morrissey

        Oh how that touches my heart–truly–the way God links hearts providentially, and sends messages that are timely and fruitful. I know I was meant to read here today and to share these Scriptures and the book that have ministered so well to me, just as you have ministered to me. Joan belongs to a writers/speakers group to which I belong, though I have not met her personally. But she lives in my heart through her words, as you do, too, through yours. God bless you on your castle journey, Christie. Oh and I love her explanation of the “solar.” I now call our bedroom that. And I have a fireplace and a bed w/ “tapestries.” 🙂 Anyway, I am just so blessed by all you have said! God bless you!
        Love
        Lynn

        July 7th, 2016 11:37
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  • Theresa
    http://TheresaBoedeker.com

    Thanks for reminding us that life is full of seasons. Sometimes our doors are flung wide open and everyone enters. Sometimes the doors are shut and we minister to ourselves and our family. Without those quiet times of rest and a re-stabilizing of our life and those around us, it is hard to minister to others.

    July 9th, 2016 12:26
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