Ruminations: Puzzle


I love that our Stewardship Team is inviting us to build a congregational puzzle. I have to admit, though, I have a bit of a puzzle problem.

If I start putting a jigsaw puzzle together, I feel compelled to finish it. It’s really tough for me to walk away and leave a puzzle only partially completed. Some people are content to let a puzzle sit out for days, just working on it a little bit at a time. That would drive me bonkers!

Still, I do the same things a lot of other people do to assemble a jigsaw puzzle. It’s a common practice, for example, to use the picture on the box top as a reference. Knowing what the finished puzzle will look like helps us figure out where the pieces might fit. If we didn’t know what the final result was supposed to look like, the puzzle would be a lot harder to put together.

I think we often want spiritual community to be like a jigsaw puzzle with a pre-ordained picture on the box top. It’s the same way with a lot of human endeavors. We want to know what the end result will be before we even start putting pieces in place.

Instead, though, co-creating community has a bit of mystery to it. We can’t know all the details in advance. It’s like putting together a jigsaw without a picture to go by. Maybe we know that it’ll ultimately be a cat. Or a hot-air balloon. But we don’t know anything more specific than that.

That can be an intimidating kind of puzzle. We might be tempted to just let other people put all the pieces in place, and then we can enjoy the results. Once someone else has assembled the puzzle, we can appreciate the overall picture they’ve created without experiencing the frustration of creating something we can’t see in advance.

The problem with just letting other people create the community we dream about, though, is that we miss the point of creating community. Community isn’t like assembling a jigsaw puzzle from a box. In co-creating community, we are the pieces.We can’t really experience the benefits without being right there in the middle of the puzzle.   

Which is why I love the Stewardship puzzle we’re building together. We get to decide what each of our pieces will look like, confident that there will be a place for it to fit. We can’t really know in advance how anyone’s personal piece will contribute to the overall whole, but we can absolutely trust that everyone’s piece will contribute to the end result. And what we co-create will be the result of each of us doing our part, not knowing what the full picture will look like until the tapestry is all assembled.

What if we treated our congregation like that puzzle? Each of us bringing our part, trusting that there is a place for us to fit. Each of us trusting that everyone’s contribution will create something unexpected and amazing and beautiful. What scares or inspires you about being part of that bigger puzzle of community?