The Juggler’s Prayer

Dear Lord,

You are the great Juggler.
From the celestial bodies to our human bodies, you toss and weave every planet and molecule in a pattern of indescribable beauty.
We can manage only a handful of objects in the air at once.
We can manage only a limited amount of schedules, relationships, and responsibilities on this earth.
But you are the eternal, everlasting, all-powerful God, with no limit to your juggling prowess.
May we look to you for all our juggling strength, seeking to emulate the beauty of your patterns in the patterns we make.
We praise you, great Juggler, who is Father, Spirit, and Son – the One True God.

Amen.

Jesse Joyner

Joggling the Richmond Half-Marathon

Let me start with a confession. I do not run much. I signed up for this half-marathon as a spontaneous, last minute whim because my wife was doing the full and I was tired of watching people do half-marathons and thinking (“I could do that”). So, without any training or stretching (except the biking that I often do), I got up and ran 13.1 miles. Or rather, slowly jogged. And yes, I was able to juggle the whole time (with a few drops – let me explain)….

This was my first half and the furthest I have ever joggled (or even ran, for that matter). I made it all the way to just shy of the 11-mile marker without a drop (nor did I stop for water, bathroom, or to walk). Then it all fell apart. I dropped about 4 times in miles 11 and 12 because I started to walk a little and got my cadence off. I realized that walking and juggling is harder than joggling (for me at least). There is not a consistent rhythm. It was also hard to get back to running and juggling after having walked. Nonetheless, I picked up and kept going after the four drops and I finished strong with a jog and a run for the last half-mile. Finished in 2:33. My goal was 2:30. Had a great time. Sarah and I are enjoying limping around the house and neighborhood.

I must also make another confession – I love the attention and cheering I get for being a joggler. I do not know if I could do these races without joggling (or without some sort of batman suit or tutu). I love the rush of hearing all those bystanders cheer for “the juggler” (or even the remarks from other runners – which range from praise to jealousy). The cheering sends chills through me and it gives me enough boosts to make it through the race successfully.

What a day. I think I could do this again.

Juggling a Chainsaw

 

DISCLAIMER: DO NOT ATTEMPT!

I juggled a live, running, sharp chainsaw for the very first time last week in North Carolina. I guess I was tired of being a juggler for 15 years and having people ask me, “Soooo, can you juggle a chainsaw?” I would always have to say, “No, but I’d like to try someday.” Now I can say, “Yeah” and then casually move on to some other subject in the conversation.

I was at the International Jugglers’ Festival in Lexington, KY chilling with my friend and mentor David Cain. Somehow chainsaws came up in our conversation (juggler’s talk about the weirdest things) and Dave told me that there was a new battery-powered chainsaw on the market. That caught my interest because that means no gas sloshing around while you juggle the beastly thing. When I got home, I looked up “battery powered chainsaw” on the internet and sure enough, Home Depot has a special right now at $59.

Then, while on a juggling trip in High Point, NC, I visited the local Home Depot. There it was – the 18-Volt Ryobi 10-inch Chainsaw – for $59. I scoped it out for weight, rotation, shape, ability to be fitted with a juggler’s handle, and so forth. I picked it up in the aisle at Home Depot and swung it back and forth in my hand a bit (not flipping it). I tried to lessen my swing when other people were in the aisle. How would you like to see a juggler testing a chainsaw for juggling in your Home Depot? I didn’t think so.

I went to Lowe’s to compare my options. Lowe’s had a similar chainsaw made by Black and Decker. It was $99. But it came with a battery and charger. The Ryobi did not. When you price up the Ryobi with the charger and battery, it came out to $130. The Black and Decker was a shorter blade (8 inches) and it had a better shape for flipping. So I went with the B & D. Then I bought some accessories to fix it up for juggling – mainly the oak dowel.

I told my host pastor what I was up to and he got really excited. “Will you practice it and be able to perform it this week at our church?” he asked. I said, “Sure, I could.” He then offered to raise the money to pay for the cost of the chainsaw – so that his church could participate in this ministry I do. I said he didn’t have to but he insisted. I had already bought the chainsaw. So that night, he showed the congregation the chainsaw and told them that he wanted to raise money to cover the cost of it. They all pitched in and within a short while, all the money for the chainsaw came in. Thank you Community Bible Church of High Point, North Carolina!

I spent an entire work day fixing up the chainsaw for juggling. That means I attached the oak dowel to the chainsaw without drilling anything into the chainsaw. Without boring you with the details, I finished the day with a solid handle on the chainsaw and then I started to practice.

Practicing juggling a chainsaw for the first time is not for the faint of heart. I gathered some staff at the church and had them watch. I stood in the grass out back and (with the chainsaw off) tried my first flip. It worked. I did not kill myself. I flipped it again, and again. No drops.

So I then figured I would try with the chain running. I might be a good juggler, but I hate running chainsaws. Maybe the chainsaw and I have a love-hate relationship. It’s the audience that loves the chainsaw – not the juggler. I zip-tied the trigger so it was always on. Then I popped in the battery to start it up. With blade running, I flipped it – and caught it. I tried again and again. Then, I dropped it.

Not on myself, but on the grass. I stepped out of the way, knowing to respect the chainsaw. I picked it up and tried again. I dropped a few more times, once or twice watching as the saw blade chopped it’s way through the dirt and grass. It is a somber feeling to imagine my hand being the recipient of such a chopping. On that note, don’t go shopping for chainsaws to juggle while wearing sandals. It makes your feet feel very naked and vulnerable.

I practiced enough to get a good clean run of a juggle (with one chainsaw and two juggling clubs – nine total catches). That was it for the day. I went to the hotel, showered up, and came back for the evening program.

I was a little nervous throughout the evening before my chainsaw bit. I had families tell me they were praying for my safety ever since they heard I was going to juggle a chainsaw for the first time. Then, a little 3-year old looked at me before my program and said, “Yu gonna juggle chinsaw, and yu gonna die.” And he said it with a large grin on his face.

I finally got to the end of my 45-minute program and it was time for the chainsaw. We all went outside on the grass (in case I, you know…) After a few attempts at chainsaw jokes, I went ahead and did the real thing – juggling a live, running, sharp chainsaw. I did my nine catches and stopped. Everybody cheered. I became a chainsaw juggler. What a life.

Ninja Juggling


This post is pure fun. My friend, Duke Holbrook, and I ventured out to Triangle Park in Lexington, KY this past Tuesday for some juggling. But this was no ordinary juggling. This was “ninja juggling.” There is a strict dress code for ninja juggling – all black. Duke recommended that we not don the black headgear, as we might draw some unnecessary attention from the authorities.

We met at 9pm. He was on time, but to my demise, I was a few minutes late. Ninjas must be punctual you know. But Duke seemed OK with my tardiness. He’s used to it. I was late this time because my wife wanted some 6-filter ionized biodegradable pure raw vegan water from the health food store. So I filled up the three jugs, got some other groceries, paid my dues at the cash register, and finally made it to ninja juggling.

The ninja juggler appears at the park, and then disappears. The prop of choice is the LED lighted beanbag. These are soft juggling balls with some very bright battery-powered lights. They leave streaks in the sky when you juggle them.

Duke and I did some individual juggling with 3, 4, and 5 balls each. Then we did some passing of 7, 8, and even an attempt at 9 between the two of us. We drew some onlookers, mostly college students roaming around with nothing else to do but watch two black silhouettes-of-men toss some colorful balls into the air.

The interesting thing about ninja juggling is that what is impressive during the daytime is not impressive at night. That means that we can execute all sorts of neat juggling tricks (like under the leg and behind the back) that have absolutely no “wow” factor in the dark (because you can’t really see body moves). What really shows up in ninja juggling are simple patterns with lots of swinging and twirling of the balls in fast motions. Basically, whatever leaves streaks looks cool.

And it was in a streak that Duke and I left. We came, we juggled, we ninja-ed, and we split. And the authorities never got close to us. I’m out.

www.jessethejuggler.com