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,


Italy for post (1 of 3)

Open shutters, San Gimignano, Italy, August 2017

Italy for post (2 of 3)

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

Italy for post (3 of 3)

Italian light, San Gimignano, Italy, August, 2017


Cathedral’s Heart

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soundless, light descends to declare

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otherworldly love of detail


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the northern pine woods frame and breathe the heart of a cathedral

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manifold vertical lines

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seek to bind

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earth and heaven, man and God


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tall airy weightless pines

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remind me

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who calls you toward heaven


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and created this space

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wide enough to fit our chaos

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offering us to the Father of lights


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we dwell here afflicted by shadows

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sharp fear, dimming confusion, the waiting of change

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yet there is a stillness

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older than the trees

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who endures


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and whose seeing Heart casts no shadow.

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} …


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 Healer and the camera

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A miracle photo, truly. I had less than a second to shoot this buck when I spotted him running off the field… A prayer shot up and somehow my super-manual lens was in focus. My first time outside after being quite sick for a few days. Such a gift. D7000 + Lensbaby Composer + Edge 80 Optic. All rights reserved.


november dry

birthing a fire
requires your own oxygen
given up out of lungs

the shadow-overcast, casting shadows
but within a coal, a flame, there may be none

i am still standing after wind has blown and
few leaves remain, dry, thin, brittle

the violin’s high, pure note was long ago

let me fly in a departing flock–
choreographed motion unison, dips and turns and banks and


will chills come again not of cold, of solitude,
but of wonder’s victory and victory’s wonder

trunks turn grey branches splinter surrounding airy substance,
cracks in the atmostphere

pines and the sky deserve reflecting

but how can i
my eyes have lost their flame

i suffocate in any air
but yours

but it’s all


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a step into the waters, the crowd is stilled–the wind had changed inexplicably

the cells of Spirit-sparked life quickly begin to assume a shape, tiny and unseen

“stop! I am not worthy–You come too close”

a human boy breathes
skin, muscles, bone, laughing-sad eyes
he speaks and loves and sees

taken by choice under the Jordan, breath held in his lungs,
his heart momentarily speeds its pulsing of blood–

miracles temptation questions pain wisdom suffering healing sorrow “Come to Me…”

s u b m e r g e d

the incarnation his baptism
his living, the death of us
his submersion into humanity, our complete and full reversal

though we protest to let You enter
and let you turn our faces to be Beloved.

the paradox of between



between Ascension and Pentecost

wait, you un-abandoned ones

see how He will come, in such power and force of Light



come away

      you are His still

      you just can’t see



hide yourselves

      in the One who will come



wait for Him

      Love is yours


paradox always

      now, not yet

      here, not yet

      with us, not yet


Savior faithful Love show us your peace

help us to speak

let us receive You and be filled.

ever the Refiner’s cleansing light



Screeching reeling drunken darkness rushed forth

burst, blown open


Your Light had penetrated another of my remaining dark holds

terror surged out

Cowering, fear, doubt, all dragged to light,


their last attempts–


your God cannot see you

your God has forgotten you

your God has no special love for you


Suddenly, all was cleared–

the foundings were gone, taken captive or enveloped in light,



{left     open}


in abrupt and breathing peace


waiting for The Lord, waiting as space to be filled

with trust, safety, and knowing…


oh Jesus how can you stand to take these evils upon yourself

each one aimed at Your heart, an arrow of malice

Holy One You never run out of strength within Yourself, You never change

You stand there even as I beat Your chest with my fists.


{an encounter with Him, recorded about two weeks ago}