Jigsaw puzzle spirituality
About once, maybe twice a year I enjoy putting together a jigsaw puzzle. For the most part I find it relaxing and it gives my sensing function some exercise. This past December my stepdaughter and her husband gave me a 1000 piece puzzle picturing an artist’s creation of numerous wolves climbing on rocks and/or howling at the moon. It was all in shades of black-to-white with some deep blue and green. I like wolves and I find it’s important to like the picture so all the stars aligned and Linda and I spent much of our leisure time in January putting “Moon Wolf” together.
It wasn’t long before we started finding spiritual lessons in the process.
The first and most obvious is keeping in mind the Big Picture. If there are eleven wolves and you have in your hand a puzzle piece that seems to be a wolf part, it would be well to check the box cover to see which wolf this piece is likely to go with. The box cover is the Big Picture for the puzzle but the Big Picture for life keeps getting bigger and bigger. Science has now discovered a trillion galaxies besides the Milky Way requiring that we revise once again our picture of where we fit in the Universe, much like we did after we saw the first pictures of earth floating in space in 1969, or in the sixteenth century when we realized that the earth was orbiting around the sun and we were no longer the center of things as we had always thought. When you think about it, it might be truer to life to make the puzzle without looking at the box cover. Gradually as we fit the pieces together, we discover what the Big Picture is. It’s interesting to ponder what image of the Big Picture might come to mind if we built it from the actual evidence that we find in the box of puzzle pieces we call our lives.
You have probably had the experience of working on a puzzle and being unable to find the piece you are looking for. It can be frustrating to keep sifting through the pieces and even finding one or two that look like they will fit perfectly but when placed in the actual space, they don’t fit. You might be able to tell yourself that it fits but if it really doesn’t, you’re just creating problems for yourself later on. This requires of us a certain patience to wait for the piece to appear and a certain faith that it’s actually in the box and didn’t get lost somewhere. You can even come to the point where you can begin to think that this piece does not exist but the next session suddenly it comes to your fingertips right away. Where was it yesterday? Perhaps it is true that the piece was holding itself out while we learned our lesson of patience. Who’s to say? In any case, life often requires of us that we wait for what we want. The spiritual agenda is to wait in peace.
Finally, when a person sets out to make a jigsaw puzzle, you have to face the fact that sooner or later you will have to deal with all those blue sky pieces and the swath of dark stuff down below. Spiritually, the counterpart is having the courage to enter through the narrow door of authentic self-confrontation. How many of us are willing to make a serious exploration of our own inner selves and trust that Spirit (the Universal Energy of Love) will dissolve the demons and dragons we meet along the way. Do we contemplate the heavens long enough for the angels to show themselves?
Happy spring, everyone!
(Bill O’Brien and his wife Linda live in Shepherdstown. Contact Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org)