MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Wednesday August 4th. Good morning! You listen The world and all in it and we are so glad you are! Good morning! I am Marie Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Here is WORLD commentator Steve West on the philosophy of puzzles.
STEVE WEST, COMMENTATOR: My favorite puzzles are the ones that other people “work”, because that’s what it is to me: work. When I look at a table of 1000 colored, tattered, zigzag cardboard cutouts, I am lost. My wife, meanwhile, is delighted with the idea of a new puzzle to study. She sets up a table near the window and opens a shop. Leave her alone for a minute, take her eyes off her, and there she is leaning over the table, searching for her way to a completed image – an impression of blooming flowers, cityscapes, or animals. All the little gaps in his day are filled with puzzles.
It is a silent activity. There is no accompanying buzz of satisfaction, no singing, no sigh of frustration, no exclamations of joy at finding the missing piece. Just quiet joy, fierce determination, resilient mind, patient trying, trying, trying and succeeding, God mending the fabric of creation, from mess to order, from chaos to creation.
I ask her what she likes about the puzzles, the unnecessary waste of time and the endless frustration (well, I keep that last part to myself). She says, “I love the satisfaction of finding the right part, of working with my hands. She doesn’t even look up as she says that, the task ahead.
While there are a thousand other things I would rather do, part of my understanding of why she loves it so much. The disassembled puzzle on the table is a problem that a little god can solve. Most grown-ups need a greater God, the God. Despite the fact that utopian projects abound, humanity is not moving towards perfect peace, happiness and bliss. We cannot fix the people around us, fix human imperfection. We cannot fix ourselves. It requires a better puzzle.
The other day I saw her do it all over again. She spread all the pieces on the table. She brooded over the depths, over the chaos, until the light came. She pulled her hair back so she could focus, putting on her placid but serious and puzzled face. Her hands were moving over the coins, trying one, then another, until she heard the subtle click of a fit and the world sighed a little. A lock of hair came loose and traced her face, but she ignored it in her deliberation. Starting with the periphery, she built a framework for this new world, finding the edges and corners. Over time, it started to take shape. I felt the hope and the promise, a time when everything fits together.
And then, a few days later, she finished. Leaning back, she rested from her work. I could almost hear him say, “It’s okay. That’s very good. “I admired his work, my hand resting on his shoulder, and smiled at his pleasure. It’s a start on the puzzle of the world.
I am Steve West.
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