Thursday, February 02, 2017

Friendship Love: The Puzzle (by Peter Black)

A new decorative piece was added to our home, lately. It is a twenty-two by thirty-inch sealed, framed and glazed jigsaw puzzle – a Christmas gift from friends. It now adorns the music room-cum-office.

I can scarcely imagine the monumental patience, painstaking labour, stiff neck and shoulders that it cost Suzie to put together this lovely one-thousand-piece picture. It had to be a labour of love! Her husband Jay made, finished and glazed the frame then mounted the puzzle.

The completed picture portrays Jesus. It’s a rather inviting portrayal, and not one of those serious
sterile, unfriendly kinds. He’s reclining, with His back against a sloping rock-face. Black shadows swallow up much of the foreground, while dying – yet still golden – hues from the setting sun highlight His relaxed warm smile, as He gazes upwards into an indigo evening sky cheerfully studded with stars. A stout staff, grasped in his left hand, seems reflective of The Good Shepherd, who watches over His sheep, ever ready to hear their cry and protect them.

Now, back to Suzie and her putting the puzzle together. Jay explained that once she has determined which puzzle she’s going to tackle next, she removes the pieces and sets the box bearing the picture aside. She then sets herself to work entirely without reference to the picture. Multiple trial and error placements of the dark and black areas and other lighter, but characterless pieces, with little or nothing to distinguish them, eventually end up in their appointed place. Amazing.

That approach is in part what makes this puzzle so special. It is special, of course, because of our friendship. And yes, it is a labour of love (this thoughtful couple have shown us generosity and kindness on numerous occasions), but it is also the product of Suzie’s elevating the challenge for herself and overcoming it.

Life can be puzzling. Ever been in situations in which you didn’t know where you fit? First day in a new class or at a new school or as a freshman in college? Maybe you’ve felt uneasy as the newbie on the block or on the job. It can be quite uncomfortable; I know, for I’ve been in numerous situations like those. Sometimes I’ve wondered whether I’d ever really fit in, but I think that most often I have . . . eventually. Some things you can’t rush but have to patiently work at.

The picture or scenario we’d projected for our lives might have grown fuzzy and the pieces just refuse coming together. Trial and error become the order of the day. Even people who are staunch in their faith and memorize scripture verses from the Bible about God’s willingness to grant us wisdom to guide and lead us in the way we should go, can experience times when life is puzzling.

Our time-line will include occasions when we landed in dark places, when we’d much rather have been in a comfortable place where all is light an’ lovely. However, our Good and Great Shepherd knows exactly where we belong. He’s with His sheep in the dark of night as well as the light of day, and will take us to the place of present joy and eternal safety as we persevere in following and trusting Him.
Our experience of the darkness helps us appreciate the light.

“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. . . . Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff – they comfort me” (Psalm 23:1, 4 NRSV).

 ~~+~~ A. Black lives in Southwestern Ontario. He writes a weekly inspirational newspaper column, P-Pep! and is author of Raise Your Gaze ... Mindful Musings of a Grateful Heart, and Parables from the Pond.



Susan Harris said...

A lovely and reassuring reminder of how things fall in place for us, Peter. I recently started a new job and encountered a woman putting together a 1000-piece puzzle, so this blog seemed to have been written for me. Every blessing to you and Suzie, from another Susie (as I'm called.)

Peter Black said...

Thanks Susan - Suzie! :) That puzzle inspired us to work on a mere 500-piece puzzle we'd picked up in our local Salvation Army thrift store several years ago, but hadn't put together.
It was a tremendous challenge, even though we referred to the picture on the box frequently. I helped a little, but May completed it. All the pieces were there. Suzie's husband Jay said he'd frame it if we'd like. However, May broke it up and put the pieces back in the box, and it will soon be back in the thrift store for someone else's enjoyment. (Hmm, maybe there's a parallel to life somewhere in that.) ~~+~~

Carolyn R. Wilker said...

I cannot imagine putting together such a complex puzzle without the picture. But what a lovely piece of art it is. I like the expression.

Today at my Mom's, we set up a table so she could do jigsaw puzzles in her apartment. It's been a winter project for Mom and Dad for years and now Mom is ready to tackle one on her own.

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