Puzzling is not a steady pastime for me -- it's a once a year thing because it's so time intensive, and my attention span flags due to many competing interests during Christmas break. For the first week, I felt like I was doing well to set ten pieces a day... after all the sorting of similar colours, there was lots of just sitting and looking, trying a piece in a spot, trying a different piece, then picking up the first one, turning it sideways or upside down, and discovering that perhaps it actually did fit in the first place. It was progressing so slowly that I was tempted to put it back in the box after a few days. But then Suzanna set all the tables, and we were committed. Even so, it wasn't until Sunday night that I began to feel like we had it licked!
When you think about it, setting a puzzle is a rather silly way to spend several hours of this one amazing life I've been given. There's nothing permanent to show for it. But maybe that's part of the point. We human beings have a way of thinking that our lives and our possessions will always be there, even though the Psalmist says:
Our days on earth are like grass;And I might add, we are like a puzzle that is set, dismantled, and gone!
like wildflowers, we bloom and die.
The wind blows, and we are gone --
as though we had never been here. (Psalm 103: 15-16, New Living Translation)
Setting a puzzle isn't a bad metaphor for life. It takes a while to sort things out, to put things in place, and to get things right. Pieces don't always go where we expect them to, and occasionally, one goes missing. Some pieces set together long before we understand how they fit into the whole. But if we keep at it, eventually we see our big picture, imperfect though it is.
Now I can take down the card table, put the living room back in order and get on with the usual January activities -- work for L'Arche board and school council meetings coming up soon, a pile of books that I should read, an afghan that needs to be finished, ordering seeds -- and planning this year's garden!