“Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. The LORD called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the LORD was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. Now the LORD came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening. 1 Samuel 3:7-10 (NRSV)
The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time, saying, ‘Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.’ So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD." Jonah 3:1-3 (NRSV)
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’ And immediately they left their nets and followed him. Mark 1:16-18 (NRSV)
My sister gave me a puzzle for Christmas this year. A 1500 piece jigsaw puzzle. Daunting. I haven’t done a puzzle in years. I haven’t had the time and besides, 1000 piece puzzles are my limit. When I was a little girl, I loved doing puzzles. For two weeks each summer my family would rent a cottage on a lake in Maine and we would flop around all day swimming, rowing, reading and on a rainy day, make a pilgrimage to L.L. Bean. I would always work on a puzzle in between all of these activities. My family knew it was my thing and I had a certain place in the cottage to spread out the pieces where I would spend hours during the day and even late into the night work on it. I so enjoyed seeing it come together and fixated on completing it. I am wondering if any of you enjoy doing puzzles, also. There are many ways to go about working on a puzzle. Some people are more organized doing a puzzle than others. I myself am a haphazard, unsystematic puzzle person. I begin a new puzzle looking at the pieces all jumbled and messy and spend hours sifting through the box of pieces, becoming familiar with them, pulling out the interesting ones and edge pieces. My strategy is to find and connect all of the outer pieces first and then work on the rest as it slowly goes together. Most of my puzzles consist of a large amount blue sky and if you have ever worked on a puzzle, at the beginning, all of these blue pieces seem the same. But after spending time staring at these pieces, I begin to notice subtle nuances between the blues. At some point it becomes easily apparent how the pieces fit together into blocks. I love thinking about where blocks of pieces might go, and am often surprised when they end up in a totally different part of the puzzle from what's expected.
When I was a girl, I would give into the flow of how the puzzle was fitting together, sifting and connecting, and at some point, my mind would wander and wonder. I thought about people and relationships in my own life at the time, especially people with whom I wasn’t connecting very well, as time with my puzzle went by, I started to understand why these relationships weren’t working. Slowly, it would become apparent as to what I could do to heal them. I would take stock in the things that I was doing that were and weren’t life giving for me and make note to let go or focus in new directions. As the puzzle connected, I made connections in my own life. When I finally finished and placed the last piece into the puzzle, I felt re-centered and reconnected, refreshed with new hope to go back into the world with clarity about who I was, where I fit in and what I was meant to be doing. Looking back, I realize now that this puzzle meditation quieted me so that the “word of the Lord was revealed to me,” God was calling me, and doing a puzzle helped me be still enough to hear the call. This past week, I have spent time on my puzzle, rediscovering this meditation that gave me so much joy years ago. My girls stop by to help find a piece or two before getting bored; I pray they find their own ways of quieting themselves. As I finish writing this article, the border of my puzzle is complete and I am grappling with the blue sky. There is much wandering and wondering to go. I am grateful that God will call for me not just two times or four times but 100 times if needed, because 1500 piece puzzles take a long time and I will probably miss the call a few times. I thank my sister for reminding me of the joy of doing a puzzle.
May you each find your own way of quieting yourselves so that the word of the Lord will be revealed to you.
And may you be ready to answer God’s call with, “Here I am, for your servant is listening.”