The Power of Juggling

pins-33936_1280In my most recent newsletter (which you can access here), I told the story of how I had done a show for a high school where just days before I came one student stabbed another in the middle of class. A parent sent me a message after my show thanking me for bringing a little joy to the hearts of the students in the middle of a very difficult week.

Someone else read that story and sent me a similar story of how juggling had the power to heal her cousin. So that it is told correctly, I will simply quote how she relayed the story to me. It is a story about how God uses things like juggling and art to heal in people’s lives….

“My cousin, Garry was a juggler and he was very good.  He started juggling in high school.  He saw a presentation at school and came home, went in his room and started throwing stuff around.  When his dad came home from work, he heard a bunch of banging coming from Garry’s room.  He asked my aunt what was going on.  She didn’t know.  So he went [into] his room to investigate.  Garry was trying to teach himself to juggle.  His dad helped him get some information on juggling from the library and he made his own practice balls out of old socks filled with beans.  He later purchased some professional equipment.  After he learned the 3 ball cascade, he taught all 3 of his sisters, his dad, a few cousins, and anyone who was even slightly interested.  His mom could juggle 3 scarves.  That’s as far as she got.  I had no interest in learning.  I thought it was a rather weird thing to do.  But he never stopped practicing.  In his last year of college, he was consumed by Schizophrenia.  He became disabled and unable to work at all.  He wasn’t able to do much of anything constructive and he lived like a hermit, rarely ever coming to any family gatherings.  But he could still juggle.  He learned to juggle at least 5 clubs, 4-6 balls, 5-6 rings, maybe more.  I remember, his parents managed to get him to come to one family reunion.  He was very uncomfortable and did not communicate much.  But when he started performing, juggling 5 clubs, he was happy and had a huge smile on his face.  And he never dropped once.  Unfortunately, the only other time I saw him was when he was in the mental hospital.  He never wanted to see anyone any other time.  One day when he was riding his bicycle in town, a medical supply truck struck him from behind and he died that night.  The driver had a diabetic black out.  At my cousin’s funeral, I saw all his juggling equipment laid out on the table and I thought to myself, “I could learn to juggle in Garry’s memory.”  And I started that day.  Although Garry was greatly disabled, he found joy in juggling.  

I have NOT been able to reach Garry’s skills. I can juggle 3 balls, 3 rings, some with flower sticks, some with cigar boxes, and I have taught some juggling 101 classes.  It’s no longer weird for me. It’s actually a lot of fun!   Prior to learning to juggle, I was learning to clown, and it works well with my business.  So in a lesser way, I am continuing what my cousin, Garry started.  I know that Garry had accepted Christ prior to being consumed with Schizophrenia, so I sometimes wonder if he is looking down from heaven, pleased that he inspired one more person to juggle and I carry that on for him.”



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Dr. Jesse Joyner travels nationwide as a speaker and entertainer. His primary role is that of a performing juggler spreading joy and the love of learning to family and kids events. H earned his PhD in Educational Studies at Trinity International University (Deerfield, IL). He enjoys playing the piano, bird watching, and old houses. He lives in Richmond, VA with his wife, Sarah, and their three kids - the perfect number for juggling children.