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.
The front has passed — or moved in — and the weather, while warm, is clear and dry. What joy after all the rain an humidity over the past couple of weeks.
True, we need rain just as we need sun… We need night and rest just as we need day and exercise. Life is like that: find joy in sunlight or rain, hot or cold, clear or cloudy, day or night, stormy or clear. Find joy in happiness and sorrow, growing closer and allowing space in between, standing your ground or surrender, pain and pleasure. Still, somehow, days like today almost seem to be reward for persevering through unsettled times, thick humidity, storms and even the disaster of the Gulf oil spill.
I find myself considering how to write to my daughter and son-in-law. This is good — not bad, mind you.
After spending a few days with them and their tiny, new daughter, I returned home with a couple of strong impressions. Daddy looks at his tiny daughter and declares repeatedly “She’s perfect! Absolutely PERFECT.” How I want him to remember this and know in his full being that this is exactly how God sees him (as well as her.) My daughter told her grandmother that she is “so in love” with the baby. How I want her to know that God holds her in the same light.
The new family is doing well. Planning for the new one’s baptism… already have a crucifix installed over her bedroom door. And, so in love with her. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every child were held in such awe? Wouldn’t the world be such a better place? Wouldn’t it help to point us to the Love of God in our lives? Wow.
I read a lot were authors and teachers tell me that “God is madly in love with me.” — I believe it at one level. I’m not sure I have that experience at a gut level.
Yesterday, I was watching and listening my daughter talk to her grandmother on the phone… I was holding the newest generation – my granddaughter. I hear my child almost exclaim – “Oh, Grandma, she’s so perfect! I’m so in love with her!” And I felt that I had a glimpse of what those teachers are trying to tell me. This tiny child, come into the world a couple of weeks early — so loved and so viewed as perfection.
I am in awe.
In the past week, I’ve spent time at the beach, in the Magic Kingdom, at the zoo and then dwelling on holy ground at Holy Trinity (Alabama) where I was on the team for a women’s Cursillo. Now, for at least the next week or so, in my current “real world” of working at the the library. ReEntry into this world from another. Sometimes, I get a glimpse of the disciples wanting to stay on the mountaintop after the transfiguration. Wouldn’t we all?
Each of the places I went last week were “magical” in different ways. The first part of the week was spent in the company of my granddaughters, aged 3 1/2 and 18 months. For a 3 year old, wearing a Cinderella dress as she watched the night parade what can be more magical can getting a kiss from Peter Pan and waves from Cinderella and even seeing Tinkerbell up close? And to be there with her parents and grandparents, to boot! The younger one, Ella, fell in love with the carousel horses. Just her speed to ride double with Mémère around and around and around. I remember the first time I went — I was already the mother of their daddy, who was 3, and I felt the magic.
But, in a very different way, the end of the week was “magical” in it’s own way. The Blessed Trinity Shrine Retreat House is truly build on Holy Ground… even back in the 17th century for a time (during the Spanish exploration) a mission cross stood and mass was said. It’s been holy ground for me for more than 30 years and the sense of being in God’s presence breaks through into our world so strongly there that, for me, it jumps out. To spend 3 days wlaking with women as they begin to see how much Jesus loves them is amazing. To be allowed to be one of the messengers is true gift.
And so, just like our newest pilgrims, I find myself back in the “real world” again… but bringing with me the vision of the “magic” and that’s makes all the difference in the world.