It was missing a piece. /And it was not happy.
So it set off in search of a missing piece.
And as it rolled, it sang this song:
Oh, I’m lookin’ for my missin’ piece/Lookin’ for my missin’ piece.
Hi—dee—ho,/ here I go,
I’m lookin’ for my missin’ piece.
A Word of Hope
Oh, so very long ago, when I combed bookstores for gifts for my young niece and nephew, I came upon Shel Silverstein’s The Missing Piece, whose opening is cited above. With its minimalist drawings and catchy rhyming song, it depicts a search for someone/something to complete the central figure, referred to as It. (Access a delightful animated version of the book here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKGXEE-sZVs)
As It sets off on its journey, It stops along the way to smell a flower, delight in a butterfly and other small pleasures, but the quest-drive propels It forward. Over oceans and mountains, swamps and jungles It goes, searching. Every time It thinks It discovers someone who could fill its emptiness, It is disappointed. Someone doesn’t want It back; another doesn’t fit—they are too big for the space or too small for the space. Sometimes its hold is too loose, sometimes too tight, crushing the missing piece. When at last It finds the “perfect match” and takes MP rolling, rolling, rolling through life, It begins to move so fast that it doesn’t take the time to enjoy the flowers or be still enough for a butterfly landing. And It loses its song.
In the moment of realization, It gently places the missing piece on the ground and takes up his song of the road again: Oh I’m looking for my missing piece….
This richly suggestive “children’s book,” an archetypal journey of yearning and aspiration, mirrors a persistent human desire for completion. But, as Thomas Merton once said: “Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made by what you desire.”
St. Augustine understands this truth. After a youth of pleasure seeking, he cries out to God: “[I]n my unlovely state I plunged into those lovely created things which you made. You were with me, and I was not with you.…You called and cried out loud and shattered my deafness. You were radiant and resplendent, you put to flight my blindness. You were fragrant, and I drew in my breath and now pant after you. I tasted you, and I feel but hunger and thirst for you. You touched me, and I am set on fire to attain the peace which is yours.”
It is Divine Love which fills our ache for completion, fills the God- shaped hole inside.
Beloved Missing Piece, may we relinquish fruitless searching and find our rest in you. Amen.
Dr. Pat Saxon