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Saturday, 28 September 2019 07:00

The Puzzle of Life: Jourenying with others

 2019.55.the puzzle of life.ME

 

I have always loved doing jigsaw puzzles, perhaps because I enjoy the challenge. However, on a deeper level, I have spent time pondering the parallels between my journey of faith and the process of piecing together a puzzle. I also see it as an apt metaphor for what it means for me to journey with others.

Whenever I complete a puzzle, the image I choose is one that is attractive to me in some way given that I will spend hours poring over the pieces. Yet the puzzle of life is different, for the image it bears cannot be chosen or fully seen. Instead, it is an rich unfolding tapestry of joys, sorrows, challenges, blessings, dreams, possibilities, hopes and fears, some of which have already taken place and some of which are yet to be, some of which we are aware and can articulate, and others which lie hidden, meaning that we need others to help us discover and understand them.  I believe this to be true for my own life, just as much as for people who I journey alongside in life.

As with any puzzle, the journey of life would be arduous to complete alone. We all need others to draw alongside us, encouraging us to continue, handing us a piece from time to time, and through open and sensitive conversation enabling us to see things in the image formed thus far that we might otherwise have missed. I think the following example of an encounter with a young man in youth justice helps to explain this.

 “You know what,’ Zac*, a 17-year-old client in youth justice said to me, ‘I believe in God, but I would really believe in him if he did a miracle’. ‘Like what’, I asked him. ‘Well,’ Zac paused and then said, ‘you know these cuts on my arm, if I prayed and they disappeared right now, then I’d believe……. and if I asked him to smash down these walls and windows so I could be free, then I’d know he was real, but I don’t think either of those things will happen’. After some more conversation, I suggested to Zac that perhaps the walls that could be smashed down were inside of him. Zac asked me what I meant, and I said that sometimes we are more trapped by things inside of us. He asked me what I meant, and when I clarified, he said, ‘do you mean like my anger and how I told you I am impulsive?’ I nodded, and after he talked about his struggle with this some more, he asked if we could pray for God to help. Over the following weeks, Zac would frequently refer to this conversation whenever I was present, telling others that I had told him that God wanted to help break down walls inside of him.

Each time I met with Zac, it seemed that another part of his story would emerge, another part of the puzzle, so to speak. His vulnerable sharing of these moments was a sacred invitation to see the picture of his life beyond what I had already seen for myself through my interactions with him. Yet, through these times, I believe that I was also able to help Zac to have the courage to see parts of his puzzle that he has not looked at before, and to see some parts of the puzzle of his life in a new way. I was able to share with him the gifts and talents that I was witnessing in him, something that he did not easily see for himself, and at times, I was able to hand him pieces of the puzzle and encourage him to piece them together.

In effect, this puzzle image is primarily about presence. Yet as I ponder how I have been present with Zac and others as they engage with the puzzle of their lives, I am also drawn to consider the puzzle of my own life, and the people that journey alongside me. My own desire and commitment to deepening in God’s presence as the glue that holds the puzzle together is instrumental, for it is from this fount of blessing that I can have the strength to be alongside those in incredible need and witness to them the gift of his presence as well in both implicit and explicit ways.

Mel Edwards