Shirin McArthur

prayerful pondering

Nature’s Jigsaw Puzzle


Henry and I spent much of this past week with family. Our sons both live in Massachusetts and we got a call from one of them a few weeks ago, saying that he and his wife and son had had it with snow and needed to come visit. Of course we said yes; we’re happy to host shivering relatives who don’t remember that the earth is brown, not white!

One of the things that my grandson and I have in common is a love of jigsaw puzzles. I’ve been working jigsaw puzzles since I was a child, and still enjoy gathering around a puzzle with my parents and other relatives when I’m visiting them for the holidays. I was thrilled to learn that my grandson enjoys them, too, and we’ve gotten into the habit of doing a few puzzles together when I visit.

In preparation for their visit here, I went to the local church garage sale and found an age-appropriate puzzle. I even found one that had a train on it, wending its way through a steep (and not snowy!) mountain pass. I figured it was one way to keep an active 6-year-old entertained when it was too dark outside to be climbing at City of Rocks or prospecting for them at Rockhound State Park. (Sense a theme here? We also have rocks in common!)

IMG_0981It’s interesting how such themes can run through our lives and help us see things in new ways. On a hike just before my family’s arrival, my friend and I got up close and personal with a Ponderosa pine tree (in certain seasons they smell like vanilla, but I think it was still too cold that day), and she commented that its bark looked like nature’s jigsaw puzzle. I had never thought of it that way before, but she’s certainly right. The layers of the Ponderosa’s bark overlap in beautifully intersecting ways that appear very much like puzzle pieces.

It is wonderful to add this layer of meaning to my love of puzzles, especially since I love the tall, stately Ponderosas as well. In fact, another Ponderosa will most likely appear in next week’s blog (it was a very fruitful hike, image-wise!). In the future, when I step up to a pine tree, I might find myself thinking about how the many pieces of my own life are intersecting with each other, like these interlocking layers of bark upon a tree—and as the lives of my puzzle-loving relatives intersect with my own.

When has an image taken on new depth for you? How did it happen?

I invite you to keep your eyes open for opportunities to deepen images in your own life, especially as Lent draws to a close and we prepare for Holy Week.


Author: Shirin McArthur

I'm a spiritual guide, retreat leader, writer and editor.

2 thoughts on “Nature’s Jigsaw Puzzle

  1. Just Beautiful visual and word imagery here! Thank you. Interesting, and not coincidental- I based the color palett for A painting i made, on the color of the bark of a pine tree in Florida. This was a Pinellas Pine, but still very similar to your Ponderosa bark. This painting is the very same image I have wanted to give you of a white egret bird!


    • Thank you, Lisa! I love the coincidences here as well…you know I have an entire photo book of birds! Tree bark is fascinating stuff; I once made entire platters imprinted with London Plane Tree bark…. I’m glad you enjoyed the blog and made connections with your own work!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s