Last week was my birthday, next week is my sister’s, tomorrow is her 27th wedding anniversary. My sister is one of my very favorite people in the world, so it’s a really beautiful time to celebrate her and her marriage, as well as reflect on another year for myself. Where am I, where am I going, what will I add, what will I leave behind, that sort of thing.
One of the gifts I received from my son Elisha was a jigsaw puzzle that was pink. Just pink. No picture, no shading, no distinction to any of it. Just a torturous pink rectangle. We finished it last night (which is why I hadn’t written earlier;) and it’s wonderful. I’m going to glue & frame it, and never, ever do it again.
Samuel also gave me a puzzle, full of musical artists, exactly the puzzle that will be a great time. But he threatened to give me something called an Impossible puzzle. There aren’t any flat edges (gasp!) and there are extra pieces that don’t fit. I’m glad he didn’t. As much as I like to think and talk about it, it’s not welcome in this house.
But it did remind me of our conversation Sunday morning. 1st Corinthians 3 has a terrific passage where Paul asks what materials we’re using to build the local church, and that can easily be adapted to ask what materials we’re using to build our lives. Hopefully, it’s the same answer; our first fruits, not what’s left at the end of the day. Do we find that we’re showing up (to work, our families, the gym, any- and every-where) fully present, awake, engaged, giving the best of us, peaceful, authentic, honest, hands and feet of Jesus…OR…are we exhausted, our attention always split, pretending, dishonest, inauthentic, negative, carrying a spirit of despair, ”as if we don’t belong to the Lord,” where there’s no tomorrow, no new creation, as if the tomb isn’t empty?
The idea is to live lives (build our greatest works of art) with attention & intention. Lives of purpose, meaning, and joy don’t happen by accident, just like they don’t happen by using inferior, leftover, scrap materials. How are we going to walk through this one life we’ve been given? How will we treat the temple of God (and just in case any of us haven’t heard or need reminding, that’s you and me, we are the temple of God)?
What does this have to do with that obnoxious Impossible puzzle? Well, there are many many pieces out there, but not all of them fit. Maybe they fit me, or your neighbor, but they don’t fit you. The real impossibility is to know what pieces to keep and which to discard without having an idea what picture we’re making. The great philosopher the Cheshire Cat says it doesn’t matter which path we take if we don’t know where we’re going.
Marriages don’t last 27 years and counting chasing cars.
We don’t use permanent marker, we don’t chisel anything in stone, we’re just not waking up saying, “God was in this place and I was unaware,” anymore.