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By Laurel Pattenden

A favourite pastime of mine is to put together jigsaw puzzles. Preferably one thousand pieces, lighthearted or comical in theme, avoiding the landscape, glacial lakes with the mountains in the background. They have way too many puzzle pieces that look the same colour. Seasonal and holiday jigsaw puzzles also find a spot on my puzzle list.

While I am completing my autumn and Halloween puzzles, I am turning the pages of my day calendar and see that the season of Advent approaches. Each year I hear the selected Advent readings in church or as a daily devotional at home. Whether the liturgical year is year A, B or C the readings rotate with familiarity. However familiar the readings I notice their meanings take on a different shape with each reading. Like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle.

Each Advent season we experience is different from the one preceding it. Even though each one seems similar they are not. The twenty-two to twenty-eight days of the season contain different pieces of our life from year to year. We are constantly arranging and re-arranging pieces to create the wholeness of our life. Or to make sense of our life.

This year, approaching Christmas, I will piece it together differently. The Christmas tree moves from here to there. Some of my decorations have seen just too many years and out they go. Then there are the decorations that I will not be blessed with enough years to relish hanging them up.

Perhaps you are in a new home with a different view or celebrating new life in this old season of preparing. Each day we may piece in a sweet or bittersweet memory, a delight long forgotten or a flicker of reborn hope for ourselves or others.

Sometimes, whether we desire to or not, we take a piece out and replace it with another. Maybe a piece of your Advent was your church that has now closed. Or for health reasons your participation that kept you interlocked with others has declined or ended. Maybe you have puzzle pieces of loss and grief that you really don’t want to use but you know you have to fit in to the puzzle.

 I am beginning to think Advent can be as much like a jigsaw puzzle as a journey. Each year we pick up our assorted pieces, new, old, cherished or not, and try to make some sense of them all. Hoping to connect one single piece to another piece. Interlocking them together to get a clearer, picture of this puzzle called Advent.

Unfortunately, I don’t think our Advent puzzle will ever be complete. We lack the ability to complete our own puzzle. Our own puzzle pieces are not enough. The truth is our Advent puzzles only comes with nine hundred and ninety-nine pieces. It lacks the piece from the very center. The piece that connects it all.

Is it stuck on sleeve of my sweater? No. Has it fallen on the floor? No.

The missing piece can only be found in a manger. The one thousandth piece, the incarnate Christ, is found in our hearts. So gather your puzzle pieces and be ready for the piece/peace that completes our puzzle.

 Laurel is retired and likes to spend her time in her art studio.