The other night, I was mindlessly flipping through the television channels trying to find something I hadn’t seen before (these days, it seems like I’ve seen the new before too). Anyway, I stopped and watched a juggler perform his act. I’ve always been fascinated with juggling because I’m so clumsy when it comes to my hand/eye coordination. I’ve never been able to get the hang of juggling.
But this guy - this guy was good. First, he started off juggling balls. No big deal. This was the kind of three ball juggling you can see anywhere. Sure, he did a few slight hand tricks, such as bouncing one ball in between the hand passes, but overall, the first part of the show was rather routine.
Once he got warmed up, he called out to his assistant, and she started adding things to the juggling routine. When he nodded his head, she started throwing eggs into the juggling pattern. Now, he’s juggling three balls and two raw eggs. Honestly, I don’t see how he’s going to get out of this one. How can you catch three balls and two eggs without dropping something?
He called once more to his assistant, and she tossed him a small baseball bat. After a few rounds of twirling everything in the air, he hit all three balls out of his juggling pattern and caught the eggs with one hand and the bat with the other.
He then took his first bow. The juggler went on to juggle lit fire torches, running chain saws, and small axes. Each item seemed to become more dangerous than the first.
Then, I leaned up and started paying real attention to how this juggler managed his act. I realized I was watching an answer to my prayers.
Let me explain. These past few months have been awful for me. I understand they’ve been bad for a lot of people, but I’m a pastor. Things are not supposed to be hard for me. I have staff and members who count on me. I’m like the pilot of an airplane. I’m not supposed to panic or get scared. The team counts on me to be in control of the moment. My family counts on me to be in charge of the moment.
We can argue about whether that expectation is realistic, fair or accurate, but for right now, we’ll just have to agree that it is what it is.
In March, the tornadoes hit. Right after that, we had to shut down for the pandemic quarantine. Since then, we’ve bounced between optimism and despair. Some days, we think we’re going to re-open and get back to normal. Other days, we’re told we may not reopen until sometime in 2021, and we start thinking we’ll never get back to normal.
Now, add my ADD to all of this. While I’ve never been officially diagnosed with ADD, my family and friends tell me I’m a poster child for it. I, on the other hand, contend I’m just interested in a lot of things – all at the same time. Anyway, my need for stimulation has made the quarantine very, very long.
Now, back to the juggler. My frustration and lack of patience had been the source of a lot of my prayers. I was asking for a better way to deal with life as I was experiencing it. I’ve never been very good with patience and perseverance, now I was failing at this daily.
Then, I saw the juggler, and in him, I saw an answer to my prayers. Follow with me.
First, he was juggling a lot of different things at the same time. I’ve been struggling my whole life to focus on one thing at a time, and now, I was being forced to focus on multiple priorities. I was having to juggle. I’m pretty good at paying attention to many things at the same time, but this has been shamed out of me for most of my life. Now, I have permission to do things my way. It just feels weird after trying NOT to do it my way for all of these years.
Having said that, the trick of juggling is while you are paying attention to a lot of things at the same time, you must pay attention to one thing in one moment. If you lose your concentration, even for a moment, the consequences are disastrous.
The juggler knew when to call for something new to be added to his routine. He didn’t grab everything at once. He got a few things going, then, as he was comfortable, he called for more items. We have to juggle right now. We can’t get away from that, but we don’t have to juggle everything at the same time. We have our jobs. We have our families. We have neighbors who are hurting. Each one needs attention, but each in its own time.
The juggler knew when to let things go. During his act, the juggler handled a lot of things – balls, eggs, bats, burning torches, and chainsaws. Yes, that’s a lot, but he didn’t try juggle everything at the same time. Yes, we have a lot going on, but we need to understand it’s OK to put some things down for a while.
Lastly, I found it interesting that even a one-man show had an assistant. As good as he was, he couldn’t handle everything by himself. Someone had to light the torches before he juggled them, and then, put them out when he was finished. Someone had to crank the chainsaws for the act to have its full effect. During these days, we all need help, and we all need to be willing to provide a little help when needed. Everyone has their hands full. Everyone is keeping everything up in the air as best as they can. So, if you can take a burning torch from a friend, don’t wait to be asked. Do it. They’re whole show may depend on your kindness.
We’re all jugglers now. We don’t have a choice. The choice we do have is how many things we can keep in the air and how long can we do it -- and do it all with joy.
These days, people are looking for a little joy, so remember, everyone loves a good juggler.