A couple of weeks ago, while on vacation in Maine, we occupied our slow moments with the construction of a jigsaw puzzle. Yes, we allow ourselves to display the box top with the finished product pictured… even so, with the image that we were seeking to recreate, we would find that pieces would seemingly hide from us, only to reappear later that day or the next morning. We would find that at times pieces were put together incorrectly, and had to be disengaged and reworked. There were pieces that seemed to belong in one part of the puzzle but in reality, went in a different place. Still, as I sat and focused on the pieces and fitting them together, I began to notice the subtle differences. I could begin to pick out the proper piece from those that needed a place.

Had I written about that jigsaw puzzle a week ago, I would have focused on the frustration and difficulty of getting the pieces in the right place, in the right order, despite having the finished image in front of me. So many times, that is how life (physical, spiritual and emotional) strikes me: Even if I have an idea of the image I’m working with, it is still difficult at times to get the pieces in correctly. It takes effort to focus on the piece I’m working with right now. If my image is Jesus (or my image is the Christ within me), I still have to figure out the placement of the pieces and how they go together.

But, I didn’t write last week. Instead, I let it sit. When that happens, the perspective often shifts. The puzzle was completed. Joy! No lost pieces – no lost sheep to seek out. It locked itself together so that I rolled it up and stored it in the box, complete, as it were… and returned it to my brother-in-law’s fiance. And that brings to mind a very different perspective on that ol’ puzzle.

My husband stayed up into the wee hours finishing that puzzle… well, all except for one piece that he couldn’t find. I got up the next morning and saw the puzzle with a missing piece. Aha! there it was on the floor by the table. I experienced the joy of fitting in the last piece. The puzzle was complete! Just as life is complete only when that last piece is put into place. Or, rather, when all of the pieces are in place, there is a whole that is different from the individual pieces. I began to see that all of those pieces — those with leaves of green, those with tiger stripes, those with sky or branches or water — all of those were necessary to the whole picture. With even one part missing, the picture was incomplete.

I may be only one tiny piece in the puzzle and you may be only a piece of the puzzle, but we are both necessary for the entire image to appear. And that is one of the joys of life.