I’ve started feeling guilty about a cardboard puzzle piece.
The puzzle piece is lying on the shoulder of that overpass. The first time I saw it, I simply wondered how one puzzle piece can be lost on the side of the road. I’ve asked the same question about abandoned shoes, socks and other random items.
But the more times I’ve passed that puzzle piece, the more I’ve thought about it. It has simply stayed on the side of the road to endure heavy rainstorms and traffic, and it is getting more and more worn down.
To me, it is not just a piece of cardboard. It is a piece of a picture that will never be complete again. It once belonged to something bigger than itself, but now it is all alone. It has been ignored and discarded, and as a result is now broken down. And it reminds me of people I encounter every day:
- Children who have been abused or neglected but know other families are healthy and happy. They wonder why their family is broken;
- People who struggle with physical or emotional pain that leaves them isolated from others and afraid to reach out;
- The single mother who lost her job and is now living in her van with her five children. So far, everyone has told her she doesn’t fit anywhere.
Yet even though I’ve had these thoughts, I haven’t picked up the puzzle piece. I continue to ride by and think how sad and isolated it seems just as so many people pass by the children who are hurting, the people who are lonely and the homeless.
The people who do take the time to stop, listen and offer some type of support are my heroes. Often, they can do little more than provide momentary comfort, but sometimes they are able to provide assistance that can make a significant difference.
They are the reason I am going to pick up that puzzle piece tomorrow. I’m going to bring it home and hang it on my bathroom mirror.
And when my children ask why I have a broken puzzle piece hanging on my mirror, I’m going to tell them that things that have been broken still have a great deal to give. I’m going to tell that being kind is more powerful than being a millionaire, and everyone has the ability to be kind. Most importantly, I will tell them that when our circumstances change and we feel that we no longer fit in, we can always find somewhere else where we can make a difference. That puzzle piece certainly has.