I like puzzles. Working out a crossword or Sudoku puzzle offers a chance to kick back for a while, change gears, and do some brain stretching. I like puzzles best when I can complete them, and get a bit frustrated when I can’t.

During those winter months when its dark outside before six o’clock, and often cold, Jan and I also typically break out a jigsaw puzzle or two, and we enjoy some quiet time together with our heads bent over the dining room table, searching for just the right piece to complete a cabin, a cloud, or a colorful bed of flowers.

Every puzzle piece fit into the larger structure is a small victory, and seeing it all come together when we complete the puzzle offers a special sense of satisfaction.

But we have this dog, whom I’ve previously mentioned, who harbors demons. Banjo is both exceedingly stupid and extremely clever. He is dumb enough to eat most anything, ranging from stray Lego blocks in the house to rabbit droppings in the yard. And he’s smart enough to know when it’s bedtime, leading to some ridiculous chase scenes.

He’s also determined that we will never complete a jigsaw puzzle again. It’s hard to spread out a 1,000-piece puzzle and work on it without an occasional piece sliding off the edge. In the old days, we’d just find it later. In these days, the dog finds it, and eats it.

Jan previously wrote
about a puzzle that we completed save for one piece. When we finished another puzzle last night, it was missing two entire pieces and half of another one. Three pieces that we managed to squeeze in had been mangled by the canine’s canines. Altogether, it was an unsatisfactory conclusion to an otherwise enjoyable effort.

I couldn’t help but reflect, in looking over the majestic-but-marred mountain scene in the puzzle, that God must have similar — though much deeper — feelings when contemplating what humankind has done to the earth. We also have the capability of being both extremely clever and exceedingly stupid. We want to enjoy the earth, but seem determined to scar it in the process, at times doing irreversible damage.

Our dog has no concept of the big picture. Sometimes we humans fail to see it, too.

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