Keeping out the Light

The space was cool with an ancient, heavy coolness sunk deep into the stone floor, clinging to my bare feet and staying between the bones. The air was the slightest bit damp, holding that intriguing stony-musty scent of very old places.

But the light. It was the light that made me understand.

A room in a 13th century Italian structure, formerly an abbey, was our bedroom for a week. When I opened the thick wooden shutters to let the feeble indirect light into the dim room, the bedsheet’s crumpled folds were illuminated. My eyes instantly recognized those distinct lines and shadows. I saw the difficult, long-studied shading of fabric folds painted by the masters, while beyond, in the corner, shadows fell over the foreboding wardrobe of some deep almost-color. I saw what the masters had seen.

All those Renaissance paintings with their bright, sharp-focused subjects wearing rich colors, cool eyes directly gazing out of faces illuminated against dark shadow-velvety backgrounds: this is what every room looked like, then.

Because light was precious. Light barely made it inside.

There has been a thought stirring at the back of my mind since this summer journey to Italy. It is simply that 

whenever we construct something to keep people out,
we also keep out the light.

A village tucked away in a mountain range may feel unfindable and may deter unsafe people.  But because of those same mountains, the sun rises a little later and sets a little earlier in that village–the day itself is made a little shorter for the mountains’ protection.

A fortress stout and strong will keep out invaders and make its inhabitants feel safe. But with windows narrow and closed, and walls high and impenetrable, the inhabitants will rarely feel the warmth of the sun–it will always feel like night inside, cool and dark.

Even an everyday bedroom curtain keeps others’ eyes from seeing you in a vulnerable state–but you cannot enjoy the light of morning until you pull back the curtains, taking the risk of being seen.

What I’m really speaking of
is the heart.

How many times a day do you hear the cold whispers–maybe you can’t hear them anymore because they’re such a part of you– telling you to “Be strong”? “Keep those walls up & keep your heart safely inside. Don’t let yourself get hurt again…”

When you shut out the risk of pain, you shut out so much more.

“I will remove your heart of STONE
& give you a heart of  f l e s h “

He doesn’t give a heart of diamond–

immaculate, sparkling, unbreakable.

He doesn’t give a heart of steel–

efficient, usable, tough.

Nor does He give a heart of paper–

easily bent to one’s will, easily thrown away.

He gives a heart of flesh.

Flesh is what composes living human bodies,
shaped by

God the sculptor,
God the engineer,
God the poet,

in His image, different from every other creature.
Somehow, we look like the One who is invisible.
And skin sets us apart–
we don’t have

a dragon’s myth-strong scales
or a bear’s wild-dense fur
or a bull’s stubborn-smooth thick hide

to protect us.

Fragile, vulnerable skin.

Flesh can be bruised, scratched, scarred. It can bleed. Flesh can feel so much pain.

But a heart of flesh is created to know and be known,
to love and be loved,
to speak and be spoken with,
to journey and be journeyed with,
to live and be tabernacled with.

It’s all that He has desired since the beginning.

Oh Jesus,

Crumble the defensive walls around our hearts
and teach our hearts to sing the songs of healing.
Create in us Your fearless vulnerability and ever-reaching love.

In the Name of our Wounded Healer who catapulted himself into our fragility–

to walk in our dust
and eat at our table,
to laugh with us
and weep with us–

our Warrior who came not wearing a suit of armor to protect Himself from us–

our pain, our anger, our rage–

but inhabited the ultra-vulnerable sweet-soft skin of a newborn
and lives to continually bear our flesh into His Father’s unapproachable Light,

Amen.

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Open shutters, San Gimignano, Italy, August 2017

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Grandmother observes the crowded street, San Gimignano, Italy, August, 2017

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Italian light, San Gimignano, Italy, August, 2017

The Most Obliging Butterflies

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Flying excited loops, distracted landings, erratic circles, 

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they say, “The flowers

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drenched in sun

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are the sweetest.”

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They tell us, 

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“Follow me!”

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“Come, scruffy robin, from the shadows!”

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“The earth is gold and though we are here but for a moment, we know it is worth savoring.”

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“Look and see! Do you know the freedom in the Gift? How wide, how deep, how far?”

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“The breeze knows it, the grasses know it.”

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“We know it. Our wings flirt with the sun, sipping earth’s dew.

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We land as jewels bestowed, undeserved. Do not refuse what you could never earn.”

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“Let us teach you

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how to say goodbye

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to this golden summer light

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and summer creations so frail.”

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“Caught, visible, for a season,

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time for rest is coming now.”

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“There is no need to hoard! You may gather all you can, yet there will always be more.”

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“We, the secrets in the light, 

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want you to know: it’s all for you.”

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“Our colors, which we are glad to give, will become your memories.”

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“Receive freely in surrender for the next season will bring more of the Gift,

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even if all the summers of time were fit into this day.” 

 These photos were taken with an experimental Lensbaby lens and its movable optic attachment. All the blur / tilt-shift-y-ness you see on my blog is from this lens!

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The Vibrant Hum of Light and Design-Made-Pattern

A Language spoken-sung, breathed; inhaled and exhaled from the undistractedly patterned lives of tiny creatures ◆ A Song I could not quite hear, though with it the path was soaked through as the generous July sun ◆ A minute, teeming drop of nature clinging to its original purpose, glowing with Life; a remnant ◆ A wanderer trying to understand and being swept into its current, having forgotten something the flowers and bees still remember…

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Templates borne and realized in living, nobly and without shame.

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Work and purpose lived, beauty and design’s intent: intertwined.

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The hum of light and nature’s feasting unseen.

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The dignity in a hummingbird-being’s secret rest.

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The uncanny and safe-making unity of flying birds. || Away. The dual flock, I.

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|| Gather. The dual flock, II.

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|| Still. The dual flock, III.

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Setting and pattern echo the Garden. The communion of nature and light, and we its fallen royals…

Creator King, reteach us the Song, sow still its seed. Speak to us the language of Your Kingdom, that we may hesitantly pronounce words and phrases now… And sing freely and fluently in Fullness. Restore all with Your Breath of Life. Overlook not Your lost and ruined Image-bearers, who have forgotten and ignored much Good. We root ourselves in Your faithfulness. AMEN.

Captured 7.24.15.

All photographs and words by Kelly Grace Collins, all rights reserved.

One wisp of Conversation caught in the wind.

Drink a song
and breathe the forest
Come and find
Me waiting

I’ll show you Glimpses, visions–
only a white thread of light through the lock of your soul,
as the faint beam of a star through shield of atmosphere
    For more than that is more than you can bear.

Come, Child, dance with Me
We’ve many roads to wander
    I’ll not let go

I delight in moments of hiddenness from all sight save Yours
I imagine Your eyes brimmed with love, observing; I glow in Your gaze
I need to let You watch for danger
    or I’ll never be free to play

Souls are deep and complicated, precise workings
Landscapes interlace within
    Do You see me there, praying?

If only You would rend my being reverse, inside out–
all strands of soul-dwelling Light would become my clothing
    Faith as sight, You my covering

Why do I take refuge in the transient, placing my hope in change
it’s all I’ve ever known
But even the faintest touch of You is a vast underneath-ness, sustaining, carrying
    as the lowest notes and the sound of a near sea…

Hide in the moment with Me;
I am where you are

I hold fast the moving suns–
I made you and your waiting worlds within

You are wild as I am, Child
you can dance in the desert, or wrestle with Me–
    for {I know where the water is} …


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These words have waited a while to be seen, but here they are at last.
First caught in May.

He has so many secrets.

The Star, the Bird, and the Grecian Statue Figure

The following are miniature poem portraits of three glorious creatures I am blessed to know as friends, and to be so regarded in return.

The Star — R.

Singularly bright, a veil thin for the Light within
a Lady fair born of the North Star, deft with love and free in thought
Ever transitioning, her mind turns in colors, words, movements
As stars shimmer through our atmosphere,
      so she glistens through experience.

The Bird — L.

The Songbirds consider her Friend
she, so like them, flies over minds and souls
and sees where on the Path they lay; birds-eye view
Wisdom of the arial landscape picture and quickness of mind
      are hers, and the birds’.

The Grecian Statue Figure — H.

Crowned with a weight she stands unyeilding
concise Grecian solidness carved with deeply thoughtful eyes; poised
To walk, to bear, is her destiny
determined, resolute she carries her burden as a braid
      plaited ’round her golden head.

Memory Healed

Memories are colors gathered in pools ◆ Experience produces such colors as filtered by our minds ◆ Some pools are silty with festering dregs, or briny and brackish–lifeless ◆ Some pools are golden blurred perfection, true or idealized ◆

If reminded of a person, place, thing,
the pools begin to drain, to flow
back to consciousness

Reminded of a darkness, a foul pool may run for some time
but must run dry, for healing

{Sometimes the Surgeon removes memories in kindness
by reaching down in, or moving us}

But most usually, let the memories run their course

Let Him bring healing through new people, places, things

Then you may see the new
clearly
left with soundness underneath.

Memories must serve their purpose;
and while some are cut too deep and may never bleed dry in this life,

what is left in the End will be beautiful delicate lines,
swirls of carving on our souls, immovable, the Image.

For my L. A. T.
and anyone else with memories that get in the way

“the eternal appetite of infancy”

I fastened the joints of the rainbow’s sleek and arching backbone
I planted secretly the lark’s song-knowing
I run the length of sparkling seas and walk the ocean’s bed
I feed the leaves through veins of life
I lit the fire in the dragon’s throat
I chase time, and capture and keep it
I observe all that breathes from My throne of light
I trace the earth with My fingers and watch the winds follow
I split the mountain with My gaze to see its stony bones
I fall and dive and race the cascading stream
I bring buckets swinging from My shoulders laden with rains to the desert
I sink My hands into crying valley soil and raise its plane
I cleanse your streets and skies with impulsive thunderstorms
I shine sun on the evil and the good
I paint with light and cloud every evening and morning, from the first day
I hope for My children, for I am Love
I climb with you up My Holy Mountain, where none will kill or destroy

I am had for the seeking, found for the looking
I call and carry you to Myself
I am the LORD your God,

and I am building us a forever House where you will share My unbound joy.

“The sun rises every morning… His routine might be due, not to lifelessness, but to a rush of life. The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be the automatic necessity that makes all the daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we…”

G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, Pg. 51

“…So we sit perhaps in a starry chamber of silence,
while the laughter of the heavens is too loud for us to hear.”
Pg. 152

Tears of the King

The throne of the Ancient of Days
is his weeping place

Once, falling and cascading, his tears flooded heaven and filled the earth,
the waters never to fully subside

His face — old lines deep with wisdom;
his being — gentle heart carved with sorrow

Outpoured love and brimming provision rejected turns to salty flow in pain
as the little precious ones choose harm, emptiness, and solitude.

What has been lost was part of him, born out of him

Weighty majesty and crushing grief interlace to form his covering
“We cannot see You! Where have you gone?”

He yet reigns, and weeps

and hopes

–even while some who are his stand back from his embrace,
hands clutching fear, shadows of self, cries of affirmation from the world–

for one to glance up to his face in willing trust;
to look into the eyes of his son

for one to find herself happy in his protecting arms;
to wash the dirt from his daughter’s body

for one to rest close to his heart in peaceful abandon;
to give his children all of Himself and all of home.