I am walking through my parent’s basement and spot the 1000 piece puzzle that I gave to my mother for Christmas last year.  Still wrapped in cellophane, the picture of forest and sky and water and every kind of wildlife calls to me.  I grab the puzzle and head upstairs, knowing that asking for permission to ‘do’ this puzzle means that the dining room table will be out of commission for a while.  Even so, my mother retrieves her puzzle board, it gets wiped down and the puzzle is dumped out in a pile in the center.  Five minutes have passed since I spotted it downstairs.  I can feel the energy in the room shifting now, this pile of cardboard pieces has become a magnet, thinking my mother will not be able to resist, and surprised when it is my father who actually circles around and then engages. We are now rapidly turning pieces over and spreading them out as much as we can to get some perspective.  It is overwhelming, this starting place.  Ten minutes have now passed since I spotted the puzzle.

Hours later we are painstakingly still working on completing the outside edges.  Meanwhile, the large pot of vegetable soup in turkey broth made from the carcass of yesterday’s ritual offering is simmering on the stove and filling the house with its nourishing aroma.  I love the symmetry of honoring the creatures of the wilds while knowing we have honored the one particular bird that has offered us so much sustenance this Thanksgiving.  And the soup is now the perfect sustenance for the endurance required to stay with this puzzle, steaming in the mugs that can find home in the limited space on the table and be sipped simultaneously while continuing to scan the spread of disconnected pieces, looking for ‘that one piece’…

We are each alternatively silent in concentration and then exuberant in our cries of AHA when we find what has been eluding us.  The expressions of the day are variations on a theme, “I don’t understand it.  I know exactly what this piece is supposed to look like and I can’t find it!”  or “I’m looking for a specific piece, and I can’t find it!”  and finally, “Help me find this piece!” and so on….I smile every time a new variation is uttered.  The energy of it is so familiar, so perfectly captured in this very real and graphic exercise of piecing together a puzzle and I am thinking of all the times I have used the expression “that is puzzling” when referring to something that I don’t understand but am determined to figure out for myself.   Then he will say, “I am looking for the wing of this bird that will fit perfectly here, let me know if you see anything like it” and I will say, “I am looking for a piece with the red head of this duck that has a white and blue line going through it”  in a rhythm that has me appreciating and noticing today the dance I have begun to do with my father, of the ways in which we ask for ‘help’ and how it is delivered in an unexpected moment of sharing.  ‘Puzzling’ has given us a context for asking for ‘help’ when asking for help is typically so very difficult…..

We are now working in opposite corners, Dad is in the sky with the birds and I am in the hidden waters of drakes that becomes the frozen ground of rabbits and snow otters.

And even though we are in opposite corners, it is not lost on me that we are both working with the blue pieces, together, they seem to be the ones that are most accessible for some reason, these variations of a color that carry the energy of healthy power and creative communication.

Two days later, the scattered pieces are still all over the dining room table.  I have to leave to go home before ‘the puzzle’ is completed.  Another metaphor of course…for being able to appreciate what has been learned in the process, of letting go of the outcome, of the power of asking for help and then accepting with grace and patience, its appearance…

One thought on “puzzling

  1. I can smell the soup cooking and can feel the energy in the room Kathy! Are you published yet? Keep them coming. Love the metaphor……”being able to appreciate what has been learned in the process, of letting go of the outcome, of the power of asking for help and then accepting with grace and patience, its appearance…”

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