I have the honor of having my new writing friend Christie Purifoy guest-posting here today. If you don’t yet know this beautiful soul and her art, you are in for something simply wonderful. Though I have only known Christie for a short while, I feel I have know her as long as her Victorian home, Maplehurst, has been providing a backdrop for living in southeastern Pennsylvania. Christie is real and fresh. And her writing speaks for my own tired soul on days I can only mumble, “me too”.
You will hear a deep thinker but one who is unpretentious. And you will fall in love with the art and the heart of this woman. Christie, I am honored.
The close of day one of Daylight Savings found my husband Jonathan and I washed up like wreckage on our old green sofa. We could hear all four kids still awake in their rooms. Maybe that is why we left the dinner dishes on the counter and the toy dinosaurs on the floor and simply sat right where we happened to be. We were too tired and too irritated by the noise to attempt anything productive.
We had no energy for choosing or making a plan, but the evening chose something for us. Something lovely. Jonathan opened the laptop left lying on the floor. He hit play on a recent episode of Austin City Limits, and we let the sounds of one of our favorite musicians wash away every irritation and tired distraction.
Listening to these songs, I remembered that the lyrics have always been indecipherable to me. I have no clue what this singer is singing, and yet these song have been some of my favorites for years. They are soaked in beauty, drenched in emotion, and, listening to them, I found myself floating in a rich sea of meaning.
I don’t know what they are about, but I seem to know just what they mean.
Living my ordinary day-to-day, I often find myself tripping over the same question. Something like, what is the point? What is the point of sweeping this floor, what is the point of baking this bread, what is the point of putting the toys back in the basket? The floor will be dirtied again in minutes, the grocery store sells bread, the basket will be upside down in no time at all. If my life is made up of these seemingly pointless activities, then what is my life about?
I am afraid that my life is not about anything beyond time wasted, tasks repeated and minute-by-minute survival. Yes, the minutes might be adding up to something good, but when the minutes are messy I can never feel sure.
But what if I am not asking the right question?
The film critic Roger Ebert used to say, “It’s not what a movie is about, it’s how it is about it.”
These are important words for more than just movies. These are words to remember for novels. For poems. For paintings. Whether we are making them or enjoying them. These are words that help us appreciate the wholeness of a work of art as well as the small grace notes.
These are words that honor the joy of creation.
We do not ask ourselves what the sky is about. I has a purpose. It is far from pointless. But its meaning is blueness. Spaciousness. Openness. Its meaning is shelter and canvas. Its meaning is the joining of heaven and earth.
What is my life today about? I don’t know. But how is my life about this thing called living?
My life is about fresh clean skin after a shower. My life is about butterfly kisses on my baby girl’s cheek. My life is about lighting a candle. Brewing tea. Even the back and forth beauty of my arms holding the broom.
I focus on the how, and I am convinced.
My life–yours too–is about great things.
Christie Purifoy writes at an old desk in the parlor of a Victorian farmhouse called Maplehurst. After earning a PhD in English literature from the University of Chicago, she traded the university classroom for a large kitchen, garden and a henhouse in southeastern Pennsylvania. When the noise of her four young children makes writing impossible, she tends zucchini and tomatoes her children will later refuse to eat. The zucchini-loving chickens are perfectly happy with this arrangement. The chickens move fast and the baby even faster, but Christie is always watching for the beauty, mystery and wonder that lie beneath it all. When she finds it, she writes about it at There is a River (www.christiepurifoy.com)