It is the rare writer who invites you in, not only to their heart but yours, and through the back door — in such a way that words and story are subtly ushering you closer to the heartbeat of God.
I read Christie Purifoy’s book last summer and I’ve counted down the months until it would be available in book stores, until I could gift it to friends. Readers, writers, ones wanting to get lost in story and find themselves in Him in a new way: buy this book. Today I’m hosting her on the blog and learning from her as I read:
“I sometimes think that every good gift I’ve been given has its roots in emptiness. I cannot separate the blessing of these four children from the years of infertility and longing. I cannot distinguish this [home] from the restless wandering that brought me here. Even summer is a gift we receive only on the far side of winter.” – Christie Purifoy, Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons
In summer, we feel the warmth of the sun on our arms, we hear birds singing outside our open window, and we feel we are blessed. Yet we cannot know the fullness of summer without the emptiness of winter. So which one, truly, is the gift?
I wrote a book and assumed I knew what every word of it meant. Two weeks before my book released, my family suffered a great loss. Now I am reading every word with new eyes. My own words, written so many months ago, have become my guide through a new season of emptiness.
“… I am finished with sifting. Finished trying to untangle the knots of good and bad. Finished naming one thing a gift, another a curse. … These things must be embraced entirely or not embraced at all.” – Christie Purifoy, Roots and Sky
The book I wrote tells the story of our first year in an old Pennsylvania farmhouse called Maplehurst. It is about all the ways God leads us home.
Now I know: our home, our place of rest, our moment of sweet arrival, lies on the other side of emptiness. On the other side of loss. And we travel toward it accompanied by a great many tears.
I realize this sounds like bad news, but it is bad news the way snowfall in winter is bad news. God meets us in our empty places, and it is sometimes as sweetly quiet as snowflakes falling on a red-brick chimney. It can be as beautiful as the white-frosted limbs of a giant maple tree. In other words, it may be hard and cold, but it is not only that.
Certainly, it is nothing to fear.
“… there is always this edge running through our lives and our days. … the cliff edge between winter and spring. The fault line between death and life. It is the line between loneliness, which is easy, and friendships, which will be hard work. I am realizing how frequently we are invited to dive into the unknown. To make a flying leap toward light and life and love. How frightening it always is. And how necessary. And also how well cared for we always are, even if we are never, at least not exactly, safe.” – Christie Purifoy, Roots and Sky
I am writing these words from a place of emptiness and grief. At the same time, I am writing these words from my home. My armchair is pulled up close to the window of this attic room. Outside, snow is falling on the evergreens, the bare maples, and the fountain I can just see down below.
I have come home, and every day I see more evidence that the God of the universe is also making a home here, on this hilltop, with me. But this does not mean that there will be no more emptiness. This does not mean there will be no more tears. Not yet.
Not yet because there are new things to come. New life yet to grow.
And one more spring approaches.
“I long to see the glory of God in this place, to taste it even, but for everything there is a season. These are still planting days. These are the early days of small beginnings. Days to sow, quite often in tears, hoping, believing, that we may one day reap in joy.” – Christie Purifoy, Roots and Sky
Christie Purifoy earned a PhD in English Literature at the University of Chicago before trading the classroom for a farmhouse, a garden, and a blog.
In lyrical, contemplative prose, Christie’s just-released book, Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons, unveils the trials and triumphs of her family’s first year at Maplehurst. Christie invites you into the heartache and joy of small beginnings and the wonder of a God who would make his home with us.