Following newspaper columnist Joseph Kraft’s death in 1986, Roger Rosenblatt wrote in Time of the columnist’s art and gave an apt and enduring image of what I hope to do in this blog and elsewhere in my writing.
“The columnist will make sense of all this somehow,” Rosenblatt wrote, referring to the continuing parade of news that daily finds its way into our consciousness. Like a jigsaw addict he begins assembling the pieces of the puzzle. “And then he asks: What piece is not here? What ground is missing from this puzzling geography that woujld allow us to view the map redrawn, to sit back and behold the brand-new country of our concern and comprehension? The piece is nor really missing, of course; you just don’t see it, like the shy side of the moon. Yet the missing piece is the one that counts.”
He might have been writing of the art of preaching, for preaching at its best does just that, I think. The preacher broods over the range of human emotion and experience that daily presents itself, seeking sense where none may be apparent, looking for the puzzle’s missing piece by which the ordinary landscape of our existence may be transformed into the eternal. Occasionally it happens, and for the briefest moment a glimpse of the whole may emerge before it scatters and goes back into hiding.
I used to be more sure of myself, sure that I knew what the assembled puzzle was supposed to look like. Now I’m more certain than ever that I’m working on this puzzling life without a box top, trying to discern what the assembled whole will look like as the pieces slowly come together and tease me along. It’s enough to turn over the pieces one at a time and ponder where they might fit.