Jigsaw by Lawrence Kushner
Last Sunday we used the ‘Jigsaw’ poem by Rabbi Lawrence Kushner as part of a celebration service at Christ Church Walmersley. Often we have little idea of either the impact that we have on others or of our interconnectedness. Sometimes, though, you can meet someone for the very first time and know straight away that there’s a reason why you met. You’ve changed them and they’ve changed you.
During the week that followed it was used at a Muslim-Christian-Jewish Forum in Bury and at a Mothers’ Union national leadership meeting by people who had attended the service. Another lady came forward with a recording of Rabbi Kushner, that she’d been treasuring for years, where he spoke about what led to the poem.
This poem can be a tremendous encouragement, particularly when we’re feeling fragile. It seems to have resonated with so many people here that it seems right to share it again more widely. You can find it on many websites and in a wide variety of contexts.
Each lifetime is the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
For some there are more pieces.
For other the puzzle is more difficult to assemble.
Some seem to be born with a nearly completed puzzle.
And so it goes.
Souls going this way and that.
Trying to assemble the myriad parts.
But know this. No one has within themselves
All the pieces to their puzzle.
Like before the days when they used to seal
jigsaw puzzles in cellophane. Insuring that
All the pieces were there.
Everyone carries with them at least one and probably
Many pieces to someone else’s puzzle.
Sometimes they know it.
Sometimes they don’t.
And when you present your piece
Which is worthless to you,
To another, whether you know it or not,
You are a messenger from the Most High.
Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, 1977
For more on the poem and Lawrence Kushner, I highly recommend the following posts:
- This is by Robert Tornberg, reflecting on the impact of the poem on his life – https://www.bc.edu/content/dam/files/research_sites/cjl/sites/partners/erpp/CJC_Tornberg.htm
- This is an interview with Rabbi Kushner where he especially talks about humility – https://www.personaltransformation.com/lawrence_kushner.html
The Jigsaw Image used under license from Freestock.com
PS: We plan to make this poem the subject of a future Cafe Church discussion. Abraham Joshua Heschel is another favourite of mine. If you search on this site you’ll see him referenced in a number of posts.