Friday, April 21, 2006

Pieces of the Puzzle is my favorite place to go on the internet to relax. Choose your picture, choose your puzzle cut, and drag-and-drop until all the pieces fit together and make a coherent picture. Sometimes I think about nothing while I do this. Sometimes I sort through other issues.

A friend spoke today of recent events and conversations in her family and how she felt they must all fit together. She just didn't know how. It was enough, for now, to put them away, like puzzle pieces, and save them all together in the same box. One day, when she knows more about the whole picture, she will be able to put them together, in three dimensions--not just the flat drag-and-drop of the computer monitor--and understand her life in a new way.

"O Lord God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, through paths as yet untrodden through perils unknown."

That's from one of the prayers in the Lutheran Book of Worship's Evening Prayer service. I think it is older than the LBW. It comes, perhaps, from the Book of Common Prayer?

I love the rhythm of the words, how the syllables keep moving forward through the paths and perils and "un" words, like the repetitive shapes of puzzle pieces scattered in confusion across the table. Indeed, we "cannot see the ending." We don't know what that final picture will look like.

We had Mark's Gospel last Sunday for the Easter story--with the abrupt final verses of the book: "And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had come upon them; and they said nothing to any one, for they were afraid." (RSV) (The NRSVs seem to walk away from my desk like they've got feet.)

"They" were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome. They took some puzzle pieces with them as they fled the tomb: the rolled-back stone, the young man dressed in white, words like "risen" and "goes before you to Galilee." Trembling and astonished as they were, they tucked these bits of information away in the back of their minds and said nothing to no one.

At least for a while. Something new was happening.

As servants of God we are called to keep moving forward, though we cannot see the ending. Wait a second--forward is pretty much the only way we can go. Time moves in only one direction, at least from where we human beings are standing. It's scary going forward, when we cannot see how the pieces fit. God our Creator endowed us with minds that endlessly try to make sense of things--even at 4 a.m.--but the insight doesn't always fall into place just because we're trying.

The prayer ends: "Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Led by God's hand, pushed along by God's love, seeing where we're going doesn't matter. Pieces of the puzzle may click into place as we pass by, or as sometimes happens to me on Jigzone, the browser quits and the puzzle vanishes when it is only half done.

My friend doesn't have all the answers to her life. I'm looking at lots of questions myself. But courage! Something new is happening.

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