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It's a Puzzle...

A famous philosopher once said, “… life is like a box of chocolates…” I have to disagree. Even if you don’t particularly like the flavor of the piece you selected (not knowing what you’d get), the chocolate is still sweet. Always. I mean, have you ever tasted a chocolate that wasn’t sweet? Oh, I know, there is the darker, “bitter-sweet” variety—but did you catch that? “Bitter-sweet”.

As a gift this past Christmas, I received a couple of jigsaw puzzles. One is a beautiful street scene of Paris. The other is of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It’s gorgeous. One thousand pieces. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Someone in puzzle heaven took a picture of Michelangelo’s masterpiece, shrunk it down and cut it into a thousand little pieces. That seems wrong on a couple of levels.

First of all, who in the world would have the nerve to chop up the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? I mean, this is one of the most iconic creations in the world of art. A work that took years to complete. A work that left its first viewers (including a Pope!) speechless. A work that still leaves thousands of visitors a week, speechless. I bet it took the puzzle-chopper all of a click of a button to leave it in pieces.

Secondly, how could anyone shrink that masterpiece? The details are so intricate, even in the massive original. Compressing the entirety of the work must, by nature, eliminate many of the thoughtful, fine points put in by its creator. Little touches that we miss now that the treasure fits on a kitchen table.

Instead of life being “like a box of chocolates,” I think it’s more like that puzzle. Each day is a piece in our own, individual masterpiece. Some pieces are more intricate than others, some plain and simple. As they’re fit together, though, a beautiful picture begins to appear. One we can’t even imagine but one our Creator has already designed. A true pièce de résistance.

Here’s another thing: If you don’t have the top of the puzzle box—or, choose not to look at it—working that intricate puzzle is hard. You can get the outer edges pieced together by finding those straight lines and matching colors and shades but then? Without seeing the big picture or knowing the details, each piece becomes a challenge. Admittedly, some pieces are easier than others to put in place. Others, though, make you want to tear your hair out. Sound familiar?

On the positive side, puzzles always bring surprises. The “Oh! That fits there!” and “Oh! That’s what that is!” Life’s that way, too. Little, unexpected moments that give one a glimpse of the bigger picture. Bits of relief. Pieces of understanding.

Puzzles are a challenge. But as we inch toward completion, there’s a sense of accomplishment to be found. A sense of satisfaction with each odd shape put in its place. That, too, is life. We keep trying. Sometimes a day, whether simple or difficult, is a good fit. Some days we don’t get a piece to go where we want it to, because it’s not the right segment. It’s not the piece the Creator designed to fit in that particular spot—no matter how much we want it to be. Eventually, though, that little shape will find its place in the big scheme of things. We just have to keep trying.

I finally made the time to break open the box and get started on the Sistine Chapel. Two-and-a-half months ago. (Maybe three.) The puzzle is still on the table. Unfinished, but getting close to completion. My husband’s been helping me—although I had to make him stop at one point. He was getting more pieces to fit than I was and it made me mad—made me feel like I wasn’t as smart as he was. And, that brought out my competitive nature! So, I struggled alone until the pieces began to make sense and I reassured myself that I could do it, alone. He understood why I’d banished him from the table and forgivingly rejoined the task when I invited him back. Honestly, it’s simply more fun to have a friend working the puzzle with me. And, it’s nice to have help with those difficult pieces. (Another lesson on life.)

So, that’s my allegory for today. “Life is like a puzzle.” I’m hoping hard the Sistine Chapel finally comes together before the next Christmas arrives. When it does, I think I may frame the darn thing—I understand now why people actually frame puzzles. One reason is that sense of accomplishment. The relief that the job is finished and we can see the reward. The other, I think, is the knowledge that I may never have the nerve to break up something I worked so hard to put together—much less the courage to actually work it, again!

Anybody know how to frame a puzzle?

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