Archive for June, 2021

The Puzzle of Life

In my memoir, JOURNEY GIRL, published in September 2020, I have little Islands of Silence that begin each chapter in a story of mother-daughter love and discovery. These Islands are for the reader to enjoy a calming moment available to them as they wind through my own story of replacing the silence around my birth mother in our family when I was growing up with her rightful place as mother-grandmother of our ongoing heritage. Puzzle-solving is one of the momentary places of quiet and gathering when I begin Chapter Eight –-Next to Godliness.

Here is an part of this chapter.


Island of Silence

Living in the Questions

Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer. Perhaps, you do carry within you the possibility of creating and forming, as an especially blessed and pure way of living.

Ranier Maria Rilke

I remember a fun family tradition of solving jigsaw puzzles during our summer family vacations. We would select a picture that made us happy; a dog chasing a frisbee, a scene of the snowy Alps mountains in France, a tempting fountain dish holding a banana split where you could almost touch and taste the sticky chocolate syrup dripping down the side.

These puzzles were problems to be solved, questions to be answered.

“Does this piece fit here?”

“Let’s see if this piece is part of this cluster.”

“We need to find the last border pieces.”

We would challenge ourselves by choosing puzzles with large numbers of pieces to fit together, sometimes one-thousand or more, that we would need to solve over a short amount of time.

So here’s the thing with this Island of Silence: the jigsaw puzzle was just one part of our summer day lived with all the other activities of vacation life. It was different from the boating, swimming, biking, ice cream treats, and trail discovery hiking. Puzzle-solving became a centering space and time of rest and recuperation; a time-out, usually filled with quiet and a purposeful search to “fit the pieces together.” The overall intention of our time spent with the puzzle was the certainty that all of these pieces would come together to form the whole—but it would take time and effort to achieve the wholeness.

Daily life is like that too. Each day we have problems to solve, lengthy and incomplete “to do” lists to conquer (there was always more than what was on the paper), borders of organization to construct, timelines to arrange, and human dilemmas to resolve. On this Island of Silence, we can think of these in the same manner in which jigsaw puzzles get solved.

First, puzzle solving is usually a quiet, calming activity. We pull ourselves aside from our rambunctious activities and, for some chosen period of time, focus on this one challenge before us. We take one piece at a time. When life gets overwhelming to us, we can retreat to a quiet space of our own—our inner Island of Silence. We can use that quiet to let one piece of the puzzle of life float to the top for us to see how it fits into the overall picture.

Next, we remember and realize that as we sat before our jigsaw puzzle all of the pieces to solve it were present before we even completed the puzzle. A jigsaw puzzle would not be an interesting pastime if we could not trust that all of the pieces are there to begin with. Now, we look upon our life problems in the same manner. Just as sure as there is a problem present, there is also a solution, hidden as it may be at this time. If we move enough aspects of the problem around, something that seems to be an answer appears or moves us in the right direction.

Also, it is not easy to force a piece of a puzzle to fit where it doesn’t belong. The pieces either snap together in an easy fit, or something appears just a little “off” if we force our own will upon it. Then the jig is up when we discover later that the piece we forced is needed somewhere else in the puzzle. We have to give it up for things to be as they should and then find the correct piece that fits in the other place.

It is the same in our daily life. Our attempts to force our will upon situations that need to still be open to other possibilities meet the same fate as the misplaced puzzle piece. Both time and new information may be needed to feel the full satisfaction of resolution. This Island of Silence invites us to remember the success and fun of puzzle completion and approach our daily lives with the same attitude of openness, certainty, and faith in the whole. We can trust in our ability to achieve the grand picture of life through handling each of the little pieces that bring it to wholeness and celebration. As we navigate our inner oceans of wisdom, in the different seasons of our lives, answers to our questions appear on new horizons.


I still am about solving many puzzles in my life, entering some uncharted waters of living as an elder amongst the elderly. It doesn’t always feel as calm as it does when I read this Island of Silence, but I seek the calmness and I keep this island on my horizon.

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June is busting out all over with splashes of blues and greens, warm breezes from the trees, birds singing in the air, and blossoms everywhere in bright flower hues.

Wonderful motivation at the art table and for poetry writing.

Even trees suggest change
And hold their age within bark
Torn and craggy streaks.

Roots provide strength and
Form solid identity
For willow and oak.

Standing tall in storms
Braving winter cold and wind
I Am what I Am.

I stand silent here
Witness to generation’s
Sense of direction.

Color explosion into blue skies and marshmello white clouds

St Francis oversees our peaceful patio sitting.

Illusions of roses follow me into my day.

I’ve done it again
Morphed from a cocoon still wet
New butterfly wings

The path less travelled
My footsteps once again find
A stone in my shoe

Patio sitting
Blossoms of companion love
Fruitful seeds flourish

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