A short synopsis of the fire juggling pics…
The complete gallery is available HERE.
A short synopsis of the fire juggling pics…
The complete gallery is available HERE.
Light them up…
To see the complete Torch Gallery click HERE.
Within the box there is freedom, the only freedom – both in Juggling and in Christ. All you tend to hear, however, is platitudes about outside the box.
Within the physical constraints imposed by the patterns we learn and rehearse in juggling, we can express an almost unlimited freedom of creative expression. That expression would not be possible without the underpining of base technique that is ‘forgotten’ while creating. This is true both in individual, as well as group, juggling activities. Freedom of expression exists inside the box.
Pablo Picasso was quoted roughly as follows: To paint in the abstract one must first become a master of technique. Once that mastery is acquired, one must forget how to paint and just create. Forgetting how to paint does not entail never knowing. The initial discipline must be mastered first, or the real work is not possible.
With some writer’s licence, one could paraphrase the above and say that the currently popular (and mostly misunderstood or misrepresented) ‘thinking outside the box’ in essence requires a perfectly defined box in place all the time.
This is certainly the case for juggling, and in my opinion also for the Christian life.
In the Christian life, the more we master the basic of dependence upon our Lord and the Holy Spirit in all matters, the more complete is our effective freedom in life and in the development of our personal potential. He created and called us for the sole purpose of glorifying Him, so in our most complete development we do so most fully. This is accomplished within Him (ie. the box). Not only that, but while we are most completely “in Him”, our expressions of freedom and complete abandon can not do other than both please and glorify Him. We do not have to strive to do so, nor fret that we will not, for the more complete our surrender, the more impossible it is to do otherwise. As such, the fundamental goal is surrender. And this surrender is within the box, not outside it.
Furthermore, this surrender is not a passive, wimpy act. It is not some blissed out new age’y state of inactivity. It is the pro-active seeking to live in Him – actively. Immersion in Christ implies His persona, and that is not ambivalent to life.
As we seek Him in pro-active worship, immersion in His Word, and desire to please Him, we are absolutely secure in the box, a box that He designed and brought us into being to occupy. Therein is complete abandon and freedom of expression – the fullness of our potential.
Juggling together successfully (collaboration) assumes that the base skills are in place, and at a usable level for both participants. In the Christian life, Scripture says that our interaction should be an outworking of our active relationship with the Lord. In our interactions, one must be assumed that we have that relationship in place in at least a rudimentary but proactive sense. Certainly we are a work in progress, to be completed in meeting Him at the time of his choosing, but we are assumed to be on the road while we interact in this world.
So with our skill set in-process, we come together to share and help each other on the road. This is the core of collaboration, and there is greater joy in traveling the road together, rejoicing in both success and difficulty.
In juggling, we practice progressively more complex activities together. This builds both combined and personal skills. We accomplish more together than alone, but it is done on the base already, and continually, developed. Even more, in our errors (please see my previous post concerning the necessity of errors and correction) we have encouragement to continue, accountability to try harder or accept correction, and the experience of the reality of working through life in unison.
The Christian life is once again very similar, but with more far-reaching effects (into eternity). Having been established in Him and embracing this life from that place, we have (through the Spirit and our actions stemming from being “in Him”) developed basic life skills. The most significant anchoring skill is an overarching dependence on Christ in all things. In that dependence is obedience to His Word and His ways. That grants us an ongoing development path.
We then come together as brothers and sisters. This collaboration is in living life, as opposed to the more narrow juggling activities. However, most of the same lessons are to be learned. In working together at the Christian life we have encouragement, accountability, correction and rejoicing. All of these are dependent for both their basic actualization and their intensity upon the degree to which we submit to the Spirit and to the Lord. Where in juggling we have been responsible ourselves for developing and retainikng through reinforcement the basic skill sets, in our life in the Lord He does the work and supplies the benefits based upon our skills of dependence and obedience.
What a joy it is to rest in Him, with the sure knowledge of His supplying what is needed to complete the journey to His side. In the joy of Juggling there is reflection of that, and of the joy of walking together with our brothers and sisters in the Lord.
Coming next -> Joyful Collaboration – Complete Freedom
In juggling, the primary patterns must be second nature (habit â€“ as mentioned before). But habits grow dim if not exercised and the juggler must continue to rehearse the basic moves on an ongoing basis.
So it is in our relationship with our Lord. After conversion, our initial and primary relationship is with Him. Our salvation is not the question, but continued, consistent interaction through the Word and Prayer maintain and develop the link as it is experience moment by moment in life. So, as in juggling, our primary skills are reinforced by continued rehearsal.
Our patterns of life, in the moment, are more often than not determined by the habitual behaviours that we have rehearsed. As we rehearse dependence in prayer, and the habit of seeking guidance for even small events from the Word, we are forming the habits that will regulate our unconscious approach in life. This will be particularly true in those situation where we don’t have time, or are too distracted by the moment, to reflect.
Next, let us not forget, or discount, the significance of spiritual warfare in this examination. While we are rehearsing our dependence and reliance on the Lord, we are simultaneously removing dependence upon Satan and the world. Remember that according to Scripture, Satan in always pro actively seeking to make inroads and distract us from the direction of our Lord. The Lordâ€™s flock are Satan’s greatest focus and challenge. When we are not rehearsing dependence on the Lord, we are by our ‘natural’ nature implicitly rehearsing dependence upon the world. One or the other is always occurring. Let us rehearse for eternity in the Lord.
In our individual practice in juggling, it is similar, though the consequences of failure are thankfully not eternal. Failure to practice and retain (or hopefully improve) base skill sets results is their slowly being extinguished. We are thus practicing â€˜not jugglingâ€™ when this is the case.
In both juggling and the Christian life, rehearsal, or failure to do so, is of great consequence not only for the individual, but for collaborative activity, as we shall seeâ€¦
Coming next -> Joyful Collaborations – Together in Process
Jugglers usually have two aspects to both practice and performance – working alone and working in groups (most often pairs). Most jugglers have a partner that they work with, often on the long term basis. There are â€˜lone wolfâ€™ jugglers, but in my experience they tend to be the minority. That is not to say that solo juggling is not satisfying. However, collaboration is both enjoyable and enhances skill development in ways that are not possible alone.
In the background thoughout all juggling is individual practice. It is essential to develop both base and more complex physical patterns. The body learns â€˜habitsâ€™ by repetition and the base patterning must become a habit.
Collaborative work relies on the pre-existence of the base skills before they can be used together. The increased complexity in collaborative juggling quickly exposes holes in base skill sets.
After sufficient base skills and initial collaborative skills are in place, further development of both individual and group skill sets can proceed in parallel. This all sounds pretty dry on the surface. It is not!! There is great enjoyment and joy. There is also a high level of dependence in the shared skills area as the escalating complexity requires more and more reliance on both skill sets.
Most of these paradigms are reflected closely in the Christian life.
Coming next -> Joyful Collaborations – Sharpening the Self
Having talked about underlying skills sets and fundamental Faith, we can move to the more pressing issue of outside reaction to the realities of errors in juggling and in Christian life as we learn and grow.
As has been explained by implication, one of the first things that neophyte jugglers must learn and grow comfortable with is the reality and inevitability of dropping. That reality is that dropping is NOT negative and is NOT a problem. In fact, it is part of the activity. Without that knowledge there is no joy or no freedom in the work.
The same is true of the believer. We are brought to faith and then taken on a lifelong journey of development with our Lord. We are assured that the processed will absolutely included at times extreme extension, challenge and growth. That can not happen without error, and we are provided explicit mechanisms for dealing with that and moving on in His service and love. So, error (or dropping) in the Christian life is reality and part of the process.
Now for the tricky part…
In juggling, non-jugglers generally regard errors and drops as negative, not only to be avoided, but reflecting poorly on the juggler. Further, errors immediately cancel the positive regard of other demonstrated skills. The juggler has to learn to overcome and ignore this attitude in others, and to resist any adoption of it personally. Other jugglers can and should be supportive in this.
In the Christian life we have a VERY important parrallel. Christians may, and hopefully do, come to learn that as the Lord pointed out, life in His company will be challenging, we may well stumble, but we have a redemption mechanism when we do. We can therefor rejoice in the continuity of the process, and in the overall safety in His grasp. Non-Christians, though, usually will not see it this way. They see a stumble as failure, and may say that quite clearly. Though we would like to present the best view of the life our Saviour has brought us, we nontheless are not responsible for the non-believer. We do not cause his attitude and the Holy Spirit is the only active agent that can alter it. They will be called to Faith, if that is the Lord’s will, by Him, and not by our perfection or error. If that is not embraced by us, then we can not grow as He would have us grow. And THAT is the real goal for which he has called us to Himself. Therein we Glory Him.
Our true endevour on the Lord’s behalf, errors and all, is the only truth we can present to others, demonstrating among other things the Grace he continues to extend to believers as we are molded. This is in plain view and we are not caused to be anything other than completely transparent about it.
Now, does this appreciation of the process in either case mean that we do not strive completely for excellence or perfection? Not in the least. But without participating in the process as a whole we are limited, and can not fully abandon ourselves joyfully to it.
Let us truly rest in Jesus, trying on His behalf to excel within the commands he has provided, honestly seeking forgiveness as He provided when necessary, that the world may glimpse the power of this ongoing transformation and He might received the Glory.
In juggling, there are a number of basic physical patterns. These patterns express in a vast number variations, that to the non-juggler’s eye appear to all be different. The juggler, however, can see these basic truths expressing in each variations. He or she also knows that without the basic patterns, irrespective of how deeply they are emerced in the variation, the juggling simply wouldn’t be physically possible.
The same is true of props. Juggling balls, clubs or rings (to name just a few common categories that include many more) all exercise that same fundamental set of patterns discussed above.
In exercising pattern and expecially in extending them, errors or drops are inevitable. They are, in fact, a required part of learning and skill extension. Compensating and overcoming them is a direct result of the underlying skill set supporting the activity.
Yet again, in group juggling, such as the club passing that gives us such great enjoyment and fellowship, the activity and the recovery from learning errors depend almost entirely on the underlying skill set.
In the final analysis, without the base patterns, no matter how they may be hidden in any situation, the activity and related growth would not be possible.
Let us then turn to the Christian life and the body of believers.
The faith that we hold, by the Grace of our Lord, provides a support of infinite strength in which to grow in life. There will be errors and miss-steps, as there must be in any development process. As we are called to grow more and more, these errors may at times be large and difficult. But it would not be possible to grow and extend in safety without the underlying grasp of our Lord. This undercurrent supports us just as the base pattern supports the juggler, but though changes beyond the reality of the present.
We learn the juggling pattern, but the pattern of Faith is a gift of God which we, being of the flesh and not of spirit, could not obtain ourselves. It brought us to the point of realising that we have received it as a gift, and it will sustain us despite worldly situations. It will allow the pattern to persist, despite evidence to the contrary at times.
What a joy to juggle and rest in the basic skills, but what a greater joy to rest in the free gift of Faith through Grace, sustained in the pattern established in Him and for His glory.
Most jugglers that I have known have a perfectionistic streak. Yet in juggling, dropping the pattern and making errors is reality. What goes up eventually comes down. This would seem to be a recipy for frustration, and one non-juggler that I know commented exactly that to me recently.
In reality, it is exactly the opposite. Errors and dropping are very important. If you aren’t ever dropping, you aren’t trying anything new and you aren’t learning.
The joy includes the miss-steps. The joy is the process as well as the accomplishment – in fact more than the accomplishment many times This is even more true when working as a group. In the collaboration there is a resolution of the errors in a new way, and the development of a spirit of tolerance as the jugglers push forward together. The only requirement is honest effort and application.
Does that mean that there is no over frustration at times, even impatience? Of course not. We are people working together. But even that is in support of the effort, whether that is expressed or not.
Looking at this, there are strong parallels in the juggling work and the Christian life, to be explored as I go along…
In the Life in the Body thread I talk about the need for play and joy for all people, all ages. One place a find that joy is in juggling. Sounds silly, right? Well that is exactly the point. Juggling is a wonderful, often difficult, occasionally frustrating, but always joyous activity.
One tends to see juggling as a solitary passtime. Although in terms of basic skill acquisition and component practice that is often true, the activity itself is most enjoyed in the collaborative framework of a juggling group.
Jugglers share skills and fellowship, but mostly there is a shared joy in the activity that can not easily be described.
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