Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: PUZZLE (11/24/16)
- TITLE: A Puzzling Parable
By Marlene Bonney
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Her present project had 3,000 pieces and depicted a beautiful floral landscape under a dawning horizon. The jigsaw was so large, Patricia had to confiscate the family’s dining room table for her personal use, exiling her parents and siblings to TV trays in the living room for meals. In between her job at the factory and her evening college classes, she diligently worked away on it, first assembling all the straight-edged pieces to form the border and then arranging colors or patterns into spasmodic sections outside the frame until she could find their proper placement. Her method was then to work from the inside edges, gradually advancing to the approximate puzzle’s midsection.
By the time the earth said, ‘How do you do?’ to the sky beneath her hands, the scene painstakingly shaped itself. Whole sections of the amazing floral vegetation were already completed on the table’s corners, ready to be inserted into the frame whenever she found the appropriate pieces that would lock them into place.
“Ah, it’s almost done,” as she eventually connected scattered pieces into the puzzle’s belly; until, finally, there was just room for the last piece, it’s empty outline right smack in the very middle. Patricia always looked forward to inserting the final piece of a puzzle into place.
“Where is it?” looking all over the table for the prodigal piece.
On her hands and knees, she scrambled under the table and throughout the entire carpeted room, brushing her hands over every inch like a scavenger caterpillar. She looked on the chairs, inside the register, under the throw rug and even on the hutch, buffet, and window ledges.
“Botheration! it’s just not here!"
Desperate to finish the project, the woman traced the empty space onto a sheet of paper, cutting up the puzzle box to makeshift a cardboard figure into the correctly knobbed missing shape. But it wasn’t thick enough. She increased its depth with multiple layers, fitting it into the interlocking jigsaws; however, it still glared out like a lumpy wart. She worked away into the night, making dozens of replicas, trying different paint colors to match the surrounding intertwines, but nothing jibed.
2,999 pieces so perfectly put together, spoiled by a conspicuous mismatched patch in the middle stared up at her downcast gaze. It was morning now, and Patricia opened the lone window’s mini-blind to let in daylight. Simultaneously, something popped out, hitting her chest and falling down into her apron pocket. The missing puzzle piece! Perfectly fitting where it belonged, puzzle piece number 3,000 completed the artist’s rendition of God’s creation. . .
“The jigsaw puzzle represents our lives,” the Sunday School teacher explained, “the pieces are the notable yearly events that take place and weave themselves into patterns that only make sense in hindsight. The border holding them all together consists of fences we erect around ourselves to protect us from harm, the corner pieces are our minds, souls, bodies, and spirits. The knobs and holes of each of the bits symbolize sorrows and joys as they occur in our lives.”
John, the most outspoken of the students, raising his hand, “But what does the middle piece mean?”
“The missing center piece is the vacuum hole inside of each of us. Like Patricia’s makeshift substitution pieces, we desperately try to fill it with drugs, sex, addictions, material possessions, power and acclaim, wealth, achievements, or good deeds that all compete for that central place in our hearts. These are inferior substitutions that only satisfy temporarily; but nothing perfectly satisfies and interlocks securely into that space until we put God into that position, making us each the masterpiece He created us to be.”
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