Part of the fun of piecing together picture puzzles was working together with other family members. A lot of my experience happened on vacation while visiting my grandmother in Virginia in the 1950s and 1960s. Except for radios, black and white televisions were the only electronic entertainment devices available, and the selection of programs was limited to three stations. We found ways to entertain ourselves, and picture puzzles were part of our heritage. We could solve the same puzzle over and over.
We sat around a table, talked about life, and tried out one piece after another until connections were made, on and off the table. I learned the importance of family, of working together, and of watching over one another. My great-grandmother was still alive and she often joined us. She would study, pick up a piece, try it in a location, and then ask, “Does that fit there?” Most of the time it didn’t, but occasionally she made the right choice.
In our spiritual walk, we don’t have to solve the puzzle alone. It helps to have helping hands and hearts that help us make connections and build the pictures of our lives. Occasionally, someone comes along who seems to distract our attention by trying to make connections that don’t work. With grace, we kindly say, “No, that doesn’t go there. But, you were close. Keep trying.” We can work the puzzle alone, but we don’t have to, and why would we want to?
When I start a new book I don’t look at the laborious process because it would be too discouraging. I know it will take probably a year or more for the first draft, and going through edits can take another year. I set myself manageable goals and divide those into days. If I do seven daily readings each week, a year from now the first draft will be finished. Let us not be discouraged by the size of the goal, but let us take the small steps needed and eventually we will achieve our hearts desire.
I enjoy working picture puzzles. Seeing the picture on the box and putting the pieces together one at a time until the puzzle is complete makes for hours of fun. Our individual lives are like giant picture puzzles, with each one working to piece together the dark and light areas, the trees and the streams, and the other fascinating areas that build it into one beautiful scene.
I always follow the same basic method for piecing together a puzzle. Dump the pieces onto a table, make sure all are turned right-side up, work the frame first, and then start with the areas of color with the fewest number of pieces. I put off the areas of color that have lots of pieces to sort through, but eventually I have to work with these areas, even if it’s the last section of the puzzle. My method might be the method that most people follow, but it certainly isn’t the only method.
Sometimes, as we work the puzzle of our lives, we are forced to work on the dark areas of our lives sooner than we had hoped. When we find ourselves in that situation, it might help to remember that these areas of darkness add to the overall picture of our lives, and that the puzzle isn’t complete without them.
I always thought there was only one way to peel a banana. In fact I had never even considered there might be a different way, perhaps even a better way, until my yen-year-old granddaughter taught me a method she learned at school. It seems that monkeys peel their bananas from the bottom. I tried it, and it works. I’m so used to doing it one way, and because that way works for me I probably won’t change. Why mess with something that works, right?
I went to the Internet and discovered an article that demonstrated eight different ways to peel a banana. Is there a right way or a wrong way? I don’t think so. As long as you get to the fruit inside, are able to eat it, and the method doesn’t interfere with providing nourishment to your body—what difference does it make?
I used to think there was only one way to connect with The Divine. I was wrong about that, too. People might make a strong argument that their way is the best way, and who is to say if they are right or wrong. One thing I’m convinced of; however is that their way is not the only way, and that there is much we can learn from one another if we will only keep our minds and hearts open.
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