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The Missing Piece

Updated: May 19, 2023

On Friday, March 27, 2020, while practicing social distancing (on a day that would end with a call for sheltering), I set out to get some exercise. I ventured on a walk along a trail near my house only to come across a lone puzzle piece on the path.

My first thought was who was missing their puzzle piece. Right now, during this current COVID-19 shut-in storm, puzzles are some people’s critical coping mechanisms. And yet, someone had lost a piece. An incomplete puzzle now. They could look through their house, under the table, couches, behind boxes, scurry around hunting for the missing piece to no avail.

How did it get here? On a walking trail, an extremely unlikely place for a puzzle piece to appear. Yet the sole little piece, perfectly placed, lay there staring back at me. Me, feeling hopeless, lost, unsure what the future holds. And the puzzle piece, looking back, secure, not sensing itself lost, rather like it had positioned itself precisely at the moment for me. Telling me its story, that sometimes in the unexpected places, we find the pieces of our lives we didn’t even know we were looking for, we find what needs to be found.

The last two years I found fragments of my life piecing themselves together to complete portions of me I never knew needed to exist. I didn’t know I was lost until I was found.

In 2018, our house underwent a foundational replacement. Over thirty piers, inside, outside, around our home, workers digging ten feet down, sending steel fixtures as far as one hundred and twenty feet down until they reached solid ground. Destroying our home to fix it again.

The repair work turned my life completely upside down, literally overnight. I felt lost.

Displaced. Confused. And at so many times, it felt like it would never end.

But it did end. And while the construction crews dug deep holes all around me, I found I too had to dig deep inside to at last find the solid foundation I needed for life. In the midst of all the change and uncertainty, I found my Rock!

And once I found my Rock, I rebuilt me.

In 2019, my husband and I, with the disclosure of our past repairs, at last, sold our dream home.

We were displaced again. Months of looking, searching, working to restore a place for ourselves. Then working to establish our sense of belonging and build a round of new norms.

But we did.

And the me, after all the changes, felt more complete, more whole.

Now it’s 2020, less than a year from getting settled again, and the world has gone through a similar upheaval. Norms of life are gone. Overnight.

The sun keeps shining. Spring flowers keep blooming. Birds continue singing. But the day to day we all knew is silent and disproportionately wrong.

How long will this last? When will it end? Can we survive this?

The questions pound through the brain. News only stirs greater questions with fewer answers. Uncertainty grows. Restlessness remains.

Which is why the puzzle piece spoke my name on the paved path. A reminder that this is another opportunity to discover a new me. That there is a part of me that, if I let it, will feel more complete, more whole, better, if I allow this time to be a season of redefining.

Just like with the 2018–2019 season of my life, in the midst of feeling broken and displaced, I know that when life resumes again, I will no longer be the same person I once was. I can’t be. Life has changed right out from under me.

We as individuals, as members of our states, countries, of the world, we will not be the same when we finally see the end of all this. We will have changed. We will be different.

The choice is how we accept that change. How we let this time redefine us and how we look once we piece the puzzle pieces of our lives back together. The puzzle pieces are there, to be found, to shape us and craft us into the humans we need to be for what’s ahead. But it’s up to us to seek the formation we need. To spot the pieces that will define us for what’s ahead.

It may feel like a waiting period. A restless time. A time that we just want to pass. But we need this time. This time is foundational. This time will define what happens next.

One puzzle piece at a time. One day at a time. One newness at a time. While the sun keeps shining, while the flowers keep blooming, while birds keep singing, we keep growing, inside, bit by bit. Finding who we really are in order to tackle the new days that will be before us.

For now, we look inside ourselves, our families, our homes, to prepare ourselves to be who we need to be to help the world in its effort to heal. Our time will come. So for now, we will prepare.


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