Some people lose socks in the laundry. Others constantly lose their spare key. In my family: we cannot seem to create a full puzzle. No matter what, there is always one puzzle piece missing. I would understand if we were missing a few pieces or two puzzles jumbled together in the same box. But repeatedly, one ominous section of a puzzle taunts us, as if laughing at our naivete in thinking we might complete the masterpiece. And that missing piece steals the attention instead of giving honor to the remainder of an otherwise, intact beautiful scene.
Do you remember Shel Silverstein’s story, “The Missing Piece?” To summarize: the misshaped circle was looking for the piece she thought would make herself whole. She wouldn’t stop searching. And in her exploring, she met new friends and experienced the wonders of the world. Finally, finding her piece, she was certain life would be better. Only to realize that life was actually better…before. Misshaped, a little off, forced to live with the ups and downs. Finding what was missing did not actually fill her up the way she hoped.
Many of us feel like we are missing pieces to our puzzle, searching in every direction to feel whole, to feel complete. We crave the presence of other human beings, desire hugs from those we love, wishing for the normalcy of summers past. But we can’t seem to find the pieces. They are lost. Under the couch, stuck between shelves, buried in crevices far from the eye. These missing pieces will most likely be ones lost for a while, or at least pieces in which even my magical mom eyes have no power in rediscovering.
And so…I am choosing to see the rest of the puzzle. Acknowledging the hurt in feeling incomplete and also, seeing the miracles that exist before me. Miracles that will be glossed over if I choose to focus on what’s not there.
Taking an inventory in the month of Elul is not just about what is absent from life; taking an inventory is appreciating what is already there.
The missing pieces may still be missing. But for the other messy, chaotic, glorious pieces that make up the puzzle of my life, I give thanks.