The bigger picture

I held the piece in my hand, staying intently at its detail. It didn’t seem to fit. I couldn’t make sense of it.

We were at breaking point in the puzzle-making process.

Recently, Mason had received a puzzle from his grandparents that was too difficult for him to do alone, so I had happily agreed to help. The initial sorting was easy. The making of the border, not too hard. But then came the middle section. Oh, the middle section! The pieces that make up the landscape of sky and trees that agonizingly all look the same the more you look at them. Where each ambiguous piece holds endless possibility for its placement in the bigger picture. But never seems to fits anywhere.

That was when Mason skipped off to play with his sister.

I was on my own.

Labouring on for what seemed like hours, I experienced moderate success but predominantly failed to place the pieces. The more I examined them, the less they looked like they belonged. As if they were independent of the greater scene. As if they were only there to mock me. I realised I needed a break, because this puzzle was no longer fun and because thinking that inanimate objects are mocking you is not normal.

A while later, I returned. And it was like seeing the picture for the first time. I suddenly became acutely aware of the whole scene and could clearly see where individual pieces fit. Piece after piece quickly and effortlessly fit into the spaces. Pieces that had previously been so ambiguous, confusing and stress-inducing now became obvious as they settled into their place. The more I added, the clearer the picture became. And once again, I found myself enjoying the activity.

Our lives can often feel like a puzzle here. Multiple pieces – relationships, activities, responsibilities, work – can be an emotional drain. When our gaze is brought low, we lose sight of the whole. Fixating on the minute detail of one solitary piece. Stressed by the detail. Unable to see how all the pieces fit together to tell a bigger story. This is what happens when we don’t step away from it all to look at the picture anew.

Recently, we did take time to pause, reflect and consider how all the pieces fit together in  the bigger landscape of our lives in this world. In this place where we live. Alongside our friends, colleagues and neighbours. From the mundane and routine to the special events. Each piece significant in its relationship to the whole. The greater story of why we are here. Jesus said the two greatest commandments are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and to love your neighbour as yourself. And so, we discussed how each activity, relationship, responsibility is part of a bigger story. How we live to love and serve others. To seek God in everything. No piece more sacred than any other.

After that, the individual pieces began to fit effortlessly into the bigger picture. Once again, we could approach each aspect of our lives with joy and purpose. And when our gaze is brought low again, we will remind each other to step away, take a breath, appreciate all the pieces as they fit together, and give thanks.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:18

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’” 

Matthew 22:37-39
The author is an On Tracker in South East Asia.

Names have been changed.