Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Puzzle

The Puzzle

Upon my table is a partially completed puzzle depicting Degas’ famous painting “Ecole de Danse.” Over 500 weirdly cut pieces are piled dauntingly to one side, waiting to find their appropriate places in the image.

Undertaking this project has been very educational. It is possible to stare at pieces at length and get no clues about how they could possibly go together. The rational mind exhausts itself attempting to match the seemingly infinite variations of shape and color. Finally one walks away in frustration, convinced that the necessary pieces are simply missing.

Later, approaching the puzzle with fresh and unburdened awareness, the pieces one was contemplating without success earlier turn out to be the very ones which fit easily and perfectly, once a slight modification in orientation is perceived.

Not surprisingly, this exercise generates metaphorical comparisons with the experience of life itself. The sense of being “fragmented” is something that many people feel. There are “pieces missing,” and they can’t get a whole picture of themselves.

There is the choice to do nothing about this uncomfortable state – to just live with it, sedating and suppressing the perception of being broken, unfinished and incomplete.

Or there is the choice to acknowledge this condition and engage one’s inner puzzle consciously. Sometimes, as in the example above, rational attempts to analyze the pieces and put them where they belong leads to frustration and anguish.

The shapes of our inner self are not perceptible by the mentality in this way. They cannot be manipulated by “understanding” alone. Understanding comes later when the pieces have found their homes and the hidden image begins to emerge.

But there is another metaphor for the puzzle which relates to an individual’s place in the grand picture of all human life and history. We can expect God or the inner voice to tell us what we are to do. What is our “mission” in life, the “purpose” of our existence?

This idea creates a sense of burden or obligation, as though the puzzle can never be completed until we accomplish great things. God gave us undisclosed numbers of “talents” and expects us to fully develop those and pay him back with interest.

But the great puzzle maker Himself created us and knows how we are to fit. We already fit, in fact. We cannot do anything else EXCEPT fit.

All that remains is to appreciate the image that his magnificence is gradually revealing to our gaze.

1 comment:

  1. When I was little, my Momma would do big puzzles on the dining room table. I found them so overwhelming! I wondered why in the world anyone would spend so much time doing that?
    I can honestly say now, that this post is not puzzling to me! Although like you said, we get frustrated when trying to manipulate, looking too hard to see and wanting to make it all come together. Even though deeply painful and uncomfortable at times, God making all our seemingly puzzling pieces whole is miraculous. So much more often, filling us with wonder!
    Love the Degas 'Ecole de danse', dancing was life to me when little, and now that is pirouetting up for me more now too, albeit rather awkwardly! :)
    Let go and let Be! Awesome, Thanks CD!!!