A year or so ago, and over the course of a number of weeks, I was in the waiting area of a medical center for a portion of each weekday morning. On the way to the waiting area there was coffee, hot water for tea, and small packages of graham crackers and salted crackers. The waiting area itself had chairs, a TV and magazines like most waiting areas, but it also had a table with a partially completed puzzle on it and all the remaining small pieces, also waiting.
I remember arriving each morning and after a short period of time, looking to see how much more of the puzzle was left to be done and how many pieces I might locate and place in the time that I was waiting. At first, this was how I spent at least a portion of my half hour wait each day. Then, as the weeks progressed there were more people in the waiting area and I found my time less and less filled with finding and placing pieces of the puzzle and more filled with conversation between and amongst fellow wait-ers. Those who were once strangers became familiar over a short period of time.
It is interesting how our lives intersect with the lives of others. And how, even over a brief period of time or through a short exchange, we can affect each other’s lives.
Each lifetime is the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
For some there are more pieces.
For others the puzzle is more difficult to assemble.
Some seem to be born with a nearly completed puzzle….
But know this. You do not have within yourself
All the pieces to your puzzle…
Everyone carries with them at least one and probably
Many pieces to someone else’s puzzle.
Sometimes they know it.
Sometimes they don’t.
– from “Eyes Remade for Wonder” by Rabbi Lawrence Kushner
As I continue to sit with the memory of that waiting area, I recall how it felt as if time was suspended or even ceased to exist. There was a reverence in the air as we listened to one another and shared conversation and laughter as we waited. It was as if we were on holy ground. A pleasant surprise…
Recently, I attended an 80th birthday party, and while it was much noisier than the waiting area of that medical center over a year ago, there was also a reverence in the room. At one side of the room there was a slideshow of pictures from throughout the years. As I sat and watched the pictures from old to new, seeing both family and friends…those who had passed and those who were present, sadness was replaced with gratitude as I was reminded…How precious life is! There was a feeling of holy ground in the pictures and in the room in the hugs and kisses, and in the smiles, greetings and conversations that were exchanged during the celebration of a “piece,” a special and beloved piece, that belongs to the puzzle of each of us present at the party, whether in spirit or in person.
So, I praise God as I say thank you Auntie D. for your beautiful spirit, your love, and your example throughout a lifetime. And, thank you to the nurses, technologists and patients in the waiting area of that medical center for your hospitality, sharing and caring during a short and uncertain period of time.
Each and every piece of the puzzle no matter the shape, size, or length is a gift, or has a lesson that is a gift. Sometimes that is easier to see than at other times. Either way, whether we see it now, or later, one spirit bowing to another is always a beautiful thing.