During the New Year’s retreat at the Catholic Conference Center, there were sprinkled around the retreat center a few optional activities for the 70 retreatants to do between sessions. These included:
• Create a personal poem for the new year.
• Write a letter to Jesus or a letter from Jesus to you.
• Express your desires to God for the upcoming year
• Benchmark your consolations and desolations from the previous year.
• Construct a spiritual life map.
Each had some basic instructions to get started. Each provided a different way to prepare for the New Year spiritually.
There were also two large, complex jigsaw puzzles on separate tables. As people walked by, they couldn’t resist trying to find the location for one of the pieces. While doing so, the instructions invited them to imagine that each piece was some aspect of their life – a relationship, a loss, a failure, a great joy, an adventure, an old homestead, a kind or cruel word, an act of generosity – and ponder how that piece fits with all the others.
When I gave it a try, I recalled that too often the events of my life seem like a thousand pieces of a puzzle lying before me, incoherent and disconnected. As I patiently put a piece or two in its proper location, I tried to meditate that God is slowly, according to His plan and purpose, ordering the seemingly unrelated and incongruous events of my life into a picture of great beauty.
I not only imagined how each piece fit with the previous pieces of my life but that each piece was an opportunity to change the present landscape. Each piece has the potential to bring new glory to God and reveal a beautiful, surprising new aspect to the panorama of my life.
We close out the Christmas season today with the Baptism of the Lord. I can’t help but imagine the many witnesses coming to see John at the Jordan River because the pieces of their lives were not fitting together. Some pieces of the puzzle were missing. The image being assembled was disjointed and confused. There wasn’t a master picture imprinted on a nearby box cover. People came to John because he provided a compelling image to help them assemble the puzzle of their lives.
Are you looking for a new way to see God’s plan in your life? Maybe slowly, meditatively put together a jigsaw puzzle. With each piece, prayerfully imagine how God is assembling the pieces of your life into a magnificent landscape.