“Longing may be our legacy, but wholeness is our birthright. It lies at the heart of the disappointments and delights of everyday life. In weeding the garden and burning the toast. In falling asleep alone or enfolded in the arms of another. In reading poetry instead of watching the news. In missing the grandmother you adored and becoming the father you never had. In weeping for the suffering of the oppressed, the degradation of the planet.”
As spiritual beings, we are made up of a unique collection of pieces to our very own life puzzle. These pieces represent the work in moving from immaturity to spiritual wholeness. It is often with this soul work of reassembly that one can get stuck, wondering how to bring wholeness to a chaotic and sometimes unforgiving worldview. This begs the question, maybe we are not meant to reflect some spectacular version of perfection after all. Could it be within our imperfections that we exist in our truest form?
Growing up, I loved doing puzzles. What began as an unorganized slurry of parts, transformed into the most beautiful of pictures. This final image instantly made sense of the mess, as if it had been there all along waiting to be discovered. Working on this discovery was meditative in practice. Methodically lifting each piece, trying them in numerous places and looking for the smallest of details was a deeply introspective activity. I remember the tangible exuberance when arriving at the very last pieces. It was as if all of a sudden every angle sharpened and each piece seemed to effortlessly slide into the whole exactly where it was meant to be. The simplicity of it was startling. What seemed impossible from the beginning became instantly possible.
Life is not much different than the work of completing a complex puzzle. We enter this world with such possibility and many different pieces of self that will be tested in a plethora of ways. Each role that we try on is evaluated and considered. Is what we are doing or who we are leading us closer to this wholeness or further away? Each day brings new opportunities to evaluate our pieces under new circumstances, lending to endless amounts of feedback.
“Many of us have made our world so familiar that we do not see it anymore. An interesting question to ask yourself at night is, What did I really see this day?”
― John O’Donohue, Anam Cara
Just as with a puzzle, when finding ourselves at a dead end, we can remove layers that do not serve and rebuild our puzzle into wholeness. It is in this constant evaluation, continued work, and correction that one experiences the true practice of spiritual discovery. It is never too late to redefine our life. We are each given a blank canvas along with a bag full of pieces that represent our genetics, personality, birth status, family orientation, etc. While some of these pieces may be ill fitted from the start, we have the ability to build upon them in order to create a more beautiful self.
My marriage was a good example of this correction. In marriage, I tried out a piece of myself and worked tirelessly to make it “fit” the reality in which I found myself. It was only after years of hardship, I finally discovered my path was harmful and not in any way healthy for my heart and soul. I slowly became to undo these pieces, all that tethered me to another in an unhealthy way, and began the arduous work of rebuilding my puzzle one piece at a time.
I will most certainly encounter many more moments of setback in which I move away from that beautiful image awaiting me. Life is an endless cycle of expansion and contraction. All that matters is my intention. If I set an intention of spiritual growth, I can use this intention as a reevaluation tool along the way. If a piece does not seem to be fitting my intention, it may be time to make a change. In doing so, I continue to learn, grow and test this bag of pieces in as many ways as my precious life will afford. These pieces will begin to fill in the shadows of my soul leaving a beautifully clear image, representative of all that I am and all that I will ever be.