“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11
Tada! The last puzzle piece snapped into place and felt so satisfying. The puzzle didn’t start out with such fuzzy feelings. 1000 random pieces overwhelmed me. Just turning over that many pieces of cardboard to see the shiny, painted side seems to take forever.
I manage a puzzle by separating out edge pieces and the rest into piles of similar colors. I then tackle one element within the scene. The entire picture is beyond recognition, but if I can fit four pieces together to recognize one object, I’m more likely not to give up.
COVID-19 has pitched us all into a confusing box of puzzle pieces, and each of us comprise one small scene in the larger picture. The smaller scenes are forming.
Here is my scene. In the neighborhood, spring began unfurling with the onset of the virus in the United States, building with life, color and promise, despite opposite news of corona. With the luxury of time now, walking down the street to the park with wind streaming my hair, I hear competing choirs of birdsong, breathe aromas from jasmine, citrus blooms and magnolia blossoms, and view floating dogwood and regal irises, all observations I’d have missed if I were in the car dashing to another meeting. Neighbors working in their yards raise their hands to wave. Others walk or run, some pushing strollers or hang onto leashed dogs. Yesterday, a friend counted 57 people out during his three mile run.
Here is a contrasting scene. Fear rides the air in a different neighborhood. Isolation and sickness feed anxiety, and the darkness mutes color from trees and sky. My extroverted friends live in this neighborhood, and they are suffering with social distancing. Hugs, laughing in groups, a church bursting with worshipers fortify them, but without volume of community, they languish and grieve. This is how they’re made.
We introverts, however, are warmed by one-on-one, smaller interactions. We’re fed with solitary time. This is how we are made. When our sons were young, following me from kitchen to bathroom to bedrooms, hanging on wanting to play or snack or demanding judgment on a brother, I was exhausted and irritable and felt horrible for having such feelings about my own offspring. I understand myself better now, and extend grace to that introverted mother who was drained without quiet and solitude.
I feel guilty, even scandalous, for soaking in so much joy when others suffer around the world, but the Lord does not chastise me. Instead, He is granting me grace and takes pleasure in my enjoyment of His works. He is present in beauty and ashes, and He should be worshipped in both. God offers grace to all of us, to those sorrowing illness and severance from community, and also to those refreshed by stillness and spring’s delight.
We rejoice with those who rejoice and grieve with those who grieve, but neither consumes us. Our differing perspectives and presence are necessary to complete the whole picture. God knows, without help, how the pieces go together to complete a perfected scene, and He is at work. He makes everything beautiful in its own time.