When I was a young adult I somehow began collecting tins. I have no idea how it started but I amassed hundreds, they lined apartment shelves and countertops, carefully sorted, placed, dusted. I had big ones, like the tins that hold popcorn at Christmas and tiny ones that hold spices. Everything in between, some new and some in the antique category, I found comfort in this collection. I enjoyed the colors, the words on the outside, the playfulness of it all. Some of those really neat tins were rusty inside, were coated with ick that I couldn’t or didn’t remove. The inside didn’t concern me, they looked delightful, especially from a distance, up on a shelf. What I didn’t realize is that I was collecting holders, delightfully attractive outsides that can hide the inner stash. No transparency. I was collecting little Me’s and decorating my home with my sickness. One day I looked at those tins and realized the collection was no longer needed.
Clear empty bottles of all shapes and sizes line my mantle, an ode to my former need to pretend I was full and colorful. None have corks, most are free of their lids. Most of the bottles are old, like the tins, they have seen a life of service. Some carried medicines, some served wine. Others came straight from a craft store, like the little ones Plum likes to put potions in. These bottles are beautiful to me, I add flowers occasionally, a bit of found grasses or interesting leaves but mostly they just stay empty. The mirror above the fireplace reflects the lights of the room or the sun coming through the back door, the bottles grab that light but send it on out. It isn’t trapped within, there is no darkness with my bottles.
I look at them everyday, sometimes many times a day, and remember that I never want to be a “tin” again. I want to be molded glass, strong enough to be filled with God’s purpose, opaque with the cleansing that comes of grace, capturing any Light that comes my way and radiating beams outward. Honesty requires though that I admit I have a smaller collection of brown bottles. These don’t adorn my mantle, they actually are sitting on the floor of my office. Minimal chance to capture any light or reflective gazes. These bottles are my reminders that even empty transparent vessels can be dark, can refuse the light. I have been those bottles as well. The struggle to be empty of all of my ick and allow my soul to be filled with Him, to wait for the Light to hit the mirror just right, some days the waiting is just too much. The hurts fill up my bottles, I become dark brooding not worthy of a place on the mantle. Still, a new day comes and my bottles welcome me each morning. An opportunity to empty out and choose what will fill me. My dark bottles stay out of sight, a harder choice. The light finds the mirror, the glass shines. The room and my soul start the day with grace.
I wonder what you collect, how it brings you closer to God. Considering what we store up, intentionally setting in places of honor, these are the stories of us. May your collections reflect light and hope, bring grace into this new year. May you find courage in shedding your tins, the daring to display your own clear bottles, the fearlessness to remove the corks that hold in hurts. May you allow the transparency of His healing to shine through you all the year long .
What do you collect? I hope to collect more Light this year.