Friday, October 17, 2008

Puzzle Pieces

Puzzle Pieces

Often, we know each another from just one perspective – just one point in time – or one context. I bet that you have noticed this in life too! The grocery bagger, whom you see and talk to each week, calls out a greeting to you in line at a movie; you falter, trying to place the name, the voice, the familiarity … until he reminds of who he is and where your paths have crossed. The piece of the puzzle sets into place.

After my uncle’s funeral recently I had cause to ponder this again. During the service, friends and relatives were asked to share stories about Uncle Pete. Afterwards people shared that in their interaction with him, they may have only known him in the context of being neighbors, being friends or coworkers. Hearing stories told by others, they were transported to his childhood, his youth, his adult life and on through the finale we were bearing witness to that day. The spectrum of his life became larger, more colorful, and contained a depth they had never thought about. This knowledge, I believe, enlarges our capacity for compassion and understanding.

I found myself thinking about all the people I know and love, as well as all the unknown people I interact with, or pass by, each day. I began to wonder, how many do I only know within a single context? How many do I play “fill-in-the-blanks” with – not affording them the courtesy of compassion and understanding? Life is so extraordinarily complex, and yet we fall comfortably into the rhythm of neat packaging – a beginning, a middle, an end …. Event A explains event B… logically or illogically we build a picture.

I think life is a puzzle ..not a picture. Our ‘picture’ is fragmented into puzzle pieces by the complexities of being human. As our lives evolve, our pieces change color, shape, and position – creating a new picture of who we are at any given point in time. Some pieces get lost … some found … and some never exist at all. Recognizing this process in others, as well as ourselves, I think affords us opportunity to look in awe at each other, and to rejoice in the opportunity we are granted in creating ourselves anew. No judgment need be placed on such a fluid process. We all have the opportunity to continually rebuild and reconnect.

You may be my sister or a stranger I see each day waiting the bus. I cannot truly “know you” even if I know endless facts about you. Your puzzle will always contain dimensions that remain invisible to me. What I CAN do is carry compassion and understanding for you in my heart; I can share with you the overlap and intersection of our ‘pieces’; and for that moment in time – our connection completes a picture…a snapshot…a memory.

dedicated to :
Peter Groskritz
1941 –2008

written 10/17/08

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