I found it behind the sofa just now, and am trying to recall the picture to which it belongs. It has an area of blue and a small yellowish stripe. It could be part of a sea picture, though it could equally be a bit of a dress, a flower, an animal, or a farmyard scene. Anything, really.
I am trying to extrapolate information from an inadequate source. I’m trying to imagine the whole day by examining a tiny moment.
But somewhere it fits.
I guess I have to accept that I will never be able to put this piece in the right box. I may as well throw it away and carry on cleaning. But that stubborn truth cannot be negated. Somewhere it fits.
Isn’t that a great thought? Is it West Side Story, where they sing “There’s a place for us, somewhere, a place for us…”? But that also means that there are other pieces, safely tucked in the right box, right now, that will never reach their full potential without this one little bit. And they, in their turn, possess just the exact qualities that will make this one shine!
And they have different colors, different shapes. These are not bricks in a wall, but particular shapes that can only fit one way, and together they create one picture. But they need this one piece to do so.
So let’s revise that sentence: One piece of a jigsaw puzzle is not a lot of use by itself.
The pieces belong together, then. They have not much to offer by themselves.
After I left school, I worked for a few months at an archaeological excavation in the Thames estuary. We were working at the site of an early Saxon village. It was really fascinating to see the logic of the place come together. I spent a couple of weeks -for example-sifting inch by inch through an area where some ninth Century guy had squatted to make a fire. But I was just a low-grade volunteer. Over there in the little cluster of caravans, the brains of the outfit slowly pieced our discoveries together, fragment by fragment, to discover a whole picture. Their program was like a philosophy of jigsaw- construction:
1. Sort the pieces
2. Work one section at a time
3. Sort by similarity
4. Approach from different angles
5. Keep looking at the whole
Someone once told me that the exact meaning of the Hebrew in Psalm 23, that is translated “He restoreth my soul” is “He pieces me back together.” I like that very much. So much gets scattered and fragmented. It’s very much like that jigsaw stuff – or like the bones of some long-dead ancestor- life can easily be broken, frittered, lost. Even within us: I know it’s pretty trivial, that line “I left my heart in San Francisco” but it’s no less than the truth. A love affair gone wrong leaves you crippled, broken – a piece of you missing. And life is filled with such fragmenting.
That’s why I hold this piece of jigsaw right now and think of the Lord who puts things back together. He is my creator. He knows my frame. Isaiah 11 says: “He will assemble the scattered…”
He restoreth my soul. Piece by piece.
He alone sees the big picture. He alone knows the end result of what my life should look like.