Sandra sipped her espresso and watched the peculiar man through the cafe window. He stepped in front of every passer-by and attempted to engage them in conversation. Invariably his overtures were ignored and the shopper continued on his or her way. “I wonder what he’s selling?” she mused. “It’s not as if I’m in any hurry today. I think I’ll go and find out.”
A short time later she walked up to the man and waited for him to make his sales pitch. At least his breath didn’t stink of alcohol and his clothes looked reasonably clean.
“I’ve got your missing peace,” he said.
“I’m sorry, I don’t think I understand.”
“I said, “I’ve got your missing peace.” Would you like to find it?”
“I’m very sorry,” replied Sandra, “but you seem to have me confused with someone else. I’m not aware that I’m missing a piece of anything. Well, that’s not exactly true. I do have a set of porcelain figures at home and my son broke the fairy godmother, so strictly speaking I am missing that piece. But of course you couldn’t possibly know about that.”
“That’s not at all what I mean,” the man replied. “Life is complex – like a large jigsaw puzzle that’s incomplete. You can’t make sense of it unless you can see the whole picture.”
“I don’t really do jigsaws, I’m afraid. My son had a go at one recently. It was a cartoon of some superheroes. Of course I haven’t a clue who they all were. But actually now that you mention it, one of the edge pieces was missing. But it didn’t really matter – he still enjoyed solving it.”
“No, you don’t understand. Life is not a game. The good book says that we reap what we sow. If we sow what is good, we will reap a harvest of peace.”
“I’m so sorry, it’s your accent. I heard you say ‘piece’ but of course what you really said was ‘peas.’ So, you’re a market gardener, are you? I think that’s very commendable these days when jobs are so scarce. May I see a packet? How much are your peas?”
“No, not peas but peace!” The man was certainly acting strangely. Any moment now, thought Sandra, and he’ll start jumping up and down. Most unusual.
The man continued, “The world is full of conflict. Nation shall rise against nation. There shall be famines and pestilences and earthquakes, in diverse places. Peace is missing but I have the answer right here. Do you want to hear about it?”
“I should think not. I don’t even have time to read the newspapers. The only people I know who go on about world peace are contestants in beauty contests. Besides I’ve got enough problems in my own life without having to worry about the rest of the world.”
“Exactly!” He literally was bobbing up and down in excitement. “The world is in a mess but the answer lies in every one of us. This peace is personal.”
“Don’t you go getting all personal on me!” Sandra didn’t mean to become emotional but the silly little man was making no sense whatsoever and now he had the gall to start her off on all her problems. “I’ve got a child at home whom I can’t control. I can’t sleep at night. I’m sure my husband is cheating on me. This morning I looked in the mirror and even my wrinkles have wrinkles. I don’t know what to do with my life and I really don’t have the time to listen to you blathering on!”
With that she tore one of his pamphlets from his grasp and stormed off down the high street. Once the man was out of sight, she looked at it properly. The front cover showed an incomplete jigsaw puzzle and the words ‘Missing Peace?’ Sandra tried to read the text but it was written in such archaic language that she couldn’t make head or tail of it. A smudged stamp on the back purported to be from some church she had never even heard of. “A complete waste of time,” she snarled, and threw the leaflet on the ground.
Later that day she sat having coffee at her friend Gail’s house and poured out all her woes. “I feel that I’ve tried everything but nothing works – crystals, yoga, aromatherapy, meditation. There’s this ache deep down in my heart but if there’s an answer out there I sure can’t find it.”
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