A woman sat at a mahogany table diligently piecing together a puzzle. It appeared to be a lovely picture from the small finished portions scattered about the table.
The border was finished. Like any avid puzzle aficionado, she ensured that her borders were carefully and perfectly pieced. It’s too easy to make a mistake on the center if the boundaries are not well definied.
An elderly woman watched closely as our puzzle builder worked on one particularly troublesome section. Curious about why it was so difficult, she asked to see the finished picture in order to help.
“I don’t have it. This is a very special puzzle. I was shown the finished puzzle a long time ago but I’ve forgotten many of the details. I have a vague picture of what it should look like but I’m afraid I’ll never get it all together correctly.”
“How long have you been working on this puzzle?”
The puzzlist sighed. “All my life. At first my parents helped me. I took their directions and they helped me get the border solidly defined.
“When I was older I saw the finished picture and wasn’t wise enough to draw a sketch of where everything belonged and the source of lights and shadows to be sure I put every piece in it’s proper place.”
The wizened old woman nodded wisely. “And have you asked to see the picture?”
She shook her head. “No, I felt foolish for my negligence.”
“Ask and it will be shown to you. It is better to swallow your pride and receive help than to finish the wrong picture for your life.”
She thought for a time and then turned to the older woman and asked, “But who would show me?”
“The older women are meant to show the younger woman the picture.”
“You would show me?” She began to hope.
“If you ask, I would be pleased to show you.”
The younger woman gasped as she saw the picture. Some of her pieces were out of place. No wonder other pieces wouldn’t fit properly! How could she expect light to shine where shadows were meant to shield?
The older woman promised to return after a time and left our puzzle friend to rearrange the pieces of her puzzle to more accurately fit the intended design. She was eager to make the changes. Not everything was out of place. All of her work was not for naught. But she was concerned about delays.
She needed to draw the picture. She couldn’t let herself forget from which side the light shone or on what side of the gate the glorious tree stood. She needed to remember that the animal beside the door was a dog, not a cat and that there was a vase in the upstairs window.
As she drew, she grew even more concerned. What if it took too long? What if in her drive to recreate the perfect picture from which she would finish the puzzle, she instead lost guard of all of the pieces. Some could be bumped from the table and onto the floor. They could be lodged in a crack, scratched, or worse, swept away with the debris. If she wasn’t careful, she’d discover that when she finished, there would be holes, possibly large ones, in the picture.
Finally, she learned a valuable lesson. The picture is determined. We can put it together correctly or try to go on memory. Help for wisdom is there for the asking and there is always an older woman somewhere to show us the picture again. It is wise to keep a reasonably detailed drawing of the picture but in our goal for a perfect puzzle we must not neglect the care of all of the pieces. During certain times, it might be best to put the unfinished parts back in the box and cover the finished sections until you are able to work on them again.
How is your puzzle looking these days?