I painted the top of this old end table just for fun- I didn’t have any underlying theme, except to make a feeling of pattern and deep space on the top of a table. But, it turned out to look like scattered puzzle pieces of the sort that are to be put together into a specific finished shape. There are usually only four or five pieces in one of those puzzles, but it is the devil to slide the pieces around each other to make a finished rectangle or cross or “L”-shape out of them. There is always a leftover triangle jutting out, or a little trapezoid void in the middle.
Years ago, when I was still singing in our church choir, one member took pieces of an old jigsaw puzzle and glued a jewelry pin to the back of each. One night at choir practice she presented each of us with our pin to remind us that we are all part of a whole; if any one of us is missing, then there is a hole in the puzzle. She was right about that- in a choir that rehearses together regularly, members come to rely on each other for that particular sound coming from the voice next door, or even for that one hard-to-find note in measure 47 in the alto section.
I look around at all my fellow puzzle pieces in my community and wonder if they ever think of each other that way. I realize that few parents set out to cast off a baby who is brand-new to the world, but I see a lot of people who have been lost from view sometime afterward. I see people who barely survive and I see others lost in a drug-induced world and I see people who are like puzzle pieces who have been missing under the sofa for years, and I wonder where are the puzzle pieces ever put back together again? How are we all to be found? When are we slid around each other until we form that perfect shape that we were meant to be?