Simple Hospitality (Or, Giving the Gift of Peace)

Jul 8, 2015

Peace is our gift to each other.”

– Elie Wiesel


We hosted a large reunion of old friends for the 4th of July weekend. As usual, the week before found us tackling a long list of neglected home repairs. At one point, while my husband hammered in a nail, I told him we’d probably live in squalor if it weren’t for our house guests.




Maybe that’s not strictly true, but we do find hospitality to be highly motivating when it comes to maintenance chores.

One day before the first guests turned down our long driveway, I decided to do something about the pantry shelves in our kitchen. A few weeks before we’d finally removed the flimsy bi-fold doors that never did stay on their tracks. Somehow I remembered an old pair of cream-colored curtains that my mother had sewed for me years ago. The tie-top panels had covered the sliding glass door in one of our first married homes, but then never quite worked for any of our windows after that. I’d been moving those curtains around, storing them at the back of various closets and drawers, for more than fifteen years.

We installed a curtain rod. We hung the curtains to hide our boxes of Cheerios, our tubs of coconut oil, and my messy collection of recycled glass containers. And they were perfect. As if they’d been made for just this space.

I texted my mom a picture and said do you remember these?

Yes, she said. Maybe it is sometimes a good idea to hold onto things.




So, yes, mothers do know best and simplicity is complicated. Give it away or hold onto it? I don’t always know.

Maybe it comes down to motivation. Are we holding on to something out of hope or fear?

There is a world of difference between I’m afraid I’ll need this one day and won’t have it and I hope one day I find a place for this beautiful thing.


I used to encounter advice on simple living and think won’t work for me. Things like, keep only the number of dishes necessary for each family member and wash after each use.

But what happens when you suddenly have thirty-five extra mouths to feed? Paper plates? That may be simple for me and my jar of dish soap, but it is not so simple for our budget. Or for the earth.

I prefer a large stack of plain white dinner plates collected from Goodwill and IKEA.

In our culture of excess, simplicity and hospitality can seem like oil and water. But I am learning, slowly learning, that they are not. Because what I most desire to share with my guests is peace.




There is no peace in excess. In overindulgence. In decadence.

Peace needs space in which to grow. It requires surrender and trust. Strangely, too much effort, even too much paper party décor, can snuff it out.

A little emptiness, a little imperfection, a little less … of everything. This is how to carve out space for another person.

There is also, in simplicity, a great deal of not knowing. Do I keep the curtains or not? Do I bake three desserts or will one suffice? To overwhelm someone with the stuff of our hospitality is to assume we know, in advance, what she needs.

But we do not know. So we give a little emptiness instead.

And we watch as emptiness becomes a place where every guest can be seen and heard.

And made welcome.





  1. Sue Tell

    Beautiful … your words and your pictures. How I would love to enjoy the peace of your hospitality! And that’s what I want to create for our guests this weekend.

    After 5 weeks in Los Angeles with our 3 youngest GRANDS and a week in Colorado with our two oldest GRANDS, Bill and I went down to our “Sanctuary” … small cabin in the mountains for just 24+ hours. It is a small, simple, and wonderful place. Beauty and quiet all came together and loved on us for those few hours. Ahhhhh.

  2. Sue Tell

    Oh and PS, the bench encircled by green …. lovely, enticing, inviting!!!!

  3. L.G. Marshall

    Love the chandelier & all your photos. Thank you for your reflections on Hospitality. It’s so wonderful the connections that guests make with each other…often divine appointments. And of course there’s the added bonus of fixing the light switch, or tightening the towel rack. I love how all my nagging or (potential nagging) goes up in a cloud of smoke. Voila!

  4. Diana Trautwein

    Truly lovely, Christie. “A little emptiness. . . ” a new, beautiful phrase. . .

    • Christie Purifoy

      Thank you, Diana. Why are we so far apart? Would love to sit across a table from you.

  5. Danielle

    I love streamlining and hate clutter (except books) in my house (but don’t mind it in other’s homes). The house I grew up in was very cluttery. Pretty but my mom could never throw anything away. So I’ve tended to the opposite extreme at times.

    I try to think, is this useful and beautiful? I love things that are beautiful but want them to be beautiful too: a tea cup, a vase I’ll put flowers in, a picture that holds meaning not just decorates. Or, if it’s something I’m not using, could someone else use this?

    One thing I’ve been doing is when I get rid of something instead of taking it to Goodwill, finding more meaningful ways to donate. There is a women’s/children’s shelter here near will I live so as I finish using baby items I donate them there. Once, when I got rid of some extra newborn clothes Ava was done with when I took them a woman had just had a baby girl that week and they needed the items! That just warmed my heart. Or when we got rid of some dishes and table clothes I gave them to my friend who works for an organization who helps refugees and they need to outfit apartments with necessities. I’ve really found I enjoy giving away things I don’t use/need now when I know they’re going to good use somewhere else.

    Those are some of my thoughts on this subject that I’m definitely thinking about and trying to grow in too.

  6. Roslyn

    Mmmmm…. Reminds me of thoughts about hosting the Holy Spirit’s Prescence. We need a little emptiness and not assuming we know what he ‘needs’ or wants to do!
    Thanks you.

  7. L.G. Marshall

    There seems to be pressure on women (self induced?) that when hosting a birthday, dinner party, coffee, or meeting we can do more (better food, better decorations, cleaner house, ‘party gifts!’, etc)….so we should do more. I dislike that feeling of waiting for the admiration and compliments to start rolling in. I’m so appreciative of some good advice I got years ago in a women’s bible study. Our luncheons were once a month, and we (Leaders) all took turns being in charge of the ‘table settings & center pieces’. My wise Director, told all of the Leaders, that our goal for the table is ‘planned casual’. In other words–refrain from going overboard, perfection not allowed. I lived in Tokyo for 4 years, and so learned this Japanese Proverb…”Leave a little something.” (meaning, leave out something, so your friend does not feel inferior). :-). [Surprisingly, it even applies to work situations. ]


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