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  • Writer's pictureChar Seawell

The missing jigsaw puzzle cover

For many of us growing up, putting together jigsaw puzzles was “a thing”. At our house, the end of our dining table, made from a door my father put metal legs on, was a perfect place for a work in progress.

We all had our own methods to assist in a quicker solving of the puzzle. Sort by color. Sort by purpose. Do one section at a time. Do one corner at a time. In our family, the kids even thought it funny to hide a couple of pieces just to frustrate the person most determined to finish one.

But regardless of method, one necessary part to the completion of any puzzle was the box top with the picture. We would rest it on one end and set it at the place of honor at the top of the puzzle, analyzing its features to find clues for how to finish quickly.

Even in the highly technological world in which we now find ourselves, the puzzle still holds its place, especially on family outings. In rented cabins or condos, finding an old puzzle box often brings a rush of childhood anticipation as the family slowly works on it in odd free moments.

It is a metaphor for life, I think now. We all have a picture on some imaginary cover of how we think life should go, and we have these various pieces we are always trying to analyze to see how they fit. Only the pieces are constantly changing shape, size and color.

A promotion doesn’t happen, cancer does, and then the picture on the cover itself changes, catching us unaware. That dream job doesn’t materialize or the Disney view of marriage faces reality, and once again, we are left scrambling to readjust the image for the life we thought we were trying to piece together.

At some point, at least for us, we settled into the picture we thought was our lives and just kept forcing pieces into places they didn’t belong trying to make the picture happen the way we thought it should be.

We knew what our puzzle picture was in our every day, organized and planned life in the Northwest. We knew where the edges were, and the picture was pretty much complete. And then we made that fateful, Spirit led decision to leave everything behind and move into the desert Southwest. And we realized quickly that we hadn’t simply changed the picture.

The new puzzle did not have a cover at all.

That could have been a frightening thing, but it has been exhilarating because we have been able to experience what happens when we release our expectations of what our lives should look like and instead just watch the picture unfold through no design of our own.

And it is a process that is filled with joyful anticipation and devoid of fear.

It is the lack of fear that has caught me most off guard. Having no idea of what is before us or what we are to “be about” here should be cause for some anxiety. But there is none. A vague sense of being unsettled presents itself at times perhaps, but it is wrapped in the arms of deep peace.

In letting go of our preconceived notions of what life should look like, we now have a front row seat to what life is like when guided daily by an unseen hand

In the process, we are learning to finely attune our listening to the whispers of the Spirit who guides us in ways that defy explanation. We are learning the joy of turning over the steering wheel and the destination. And we are learning that we do not need to know what the picture looks like or where the pieces go.

We just need to sit back and watch as the scene unfolds before us.

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