Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Shifting Pictures of Ourselves

You know those little 4 x 4 sliding tile puzzles that people sometimes give out as party favors or in the fish pond at parish festivals? Well, I'm really bad at solving them. But nevertheless, they're so popular that I have an electronic one on my computer desktop, with a picture of a lion's face.

But the face is all jumbled up and out of order. The cat's whiskers appear on its head and its eyes slide off the right side of its face. As much as I try to rearrange the tiles and restore the picture, I can never seem to figure out quite the right order. The lion's face is still distorted and incomplete.

Some days my face looks messed up too. I slide the tiles of my life around, searching for the proper arrangement that will reflect a balanced and beautiful face back into my eyes. 

At times I do this confidently, certain of where to position the eyes, but if only I could just get the chin in the right position…

At other times I go to the puzzle and mix all the tiles up at random. Then I can start over with the picture. Each piece is on an even playing field and no one tile is more important than another, at least for a brief time.

Sometimes a piece that I have so boldly placed at the center of the picture will hinder a piece that needs to go to the other side. This piece cannot remain rigidly in its place, but must move around, working in conjunction with the others to form the picture. And so the pieces of my life must give a little and gain a little. In order to solve this puzzle, I must discover flexibility within a small but appropriately sized frame.

There are times when I become discouraged and walk away from the picture. Who cares if the face ever comes out right? I'm tired of trying to solve this riddle of my life.

But my Friend takes me back to the puzzle. He shows me a sketch of what the final portrait will look like. It's just a cartoon, He says, of what the real thing will look like when we're finished.

It's so hard, I grumble.

Try moving this. He points to a piece in the upper left-hand corner. Try putting it here. A place in mid-right side. I'll be here if you need me.

And I begin to work at the puzzle again.

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