After writing down all those areas of my life that felt not-so-well ordered, I shared my “late-night laundry list” with my spiritual director and showed her the graphic I created to illustrate my current spiritual condition:
Looking the graphic over for a moment, she asked, “What stands out for you?”
I pointed out the “God ball” at the foot of the clutter pile.
I half expected her to supply some relevant Bible verses about the Godliness of cleanliness and self-discipline. Instead she recommended a children’s book – The Clown of God, “an old story” told and illustrated by Tomie de Paola.
The tale stars a small boy whose special talent is juggling:
He would juggle sticks. Plates. Then he would balance the plates on the sticks and twirl them. He would juggle clubs, rings and burning torches. Finally he would toss a red ball and an orange ball. Then a yellow ball. A green, a blue and a violet ball until it looked as if he were juggling the rainbow. “And now for the Sun in the Heavens,” he would cry. Still juggling, he would pick up a shining golden ball and toss it higher and higher, faster and faster. And how the crowds would cheer.
The small boy grew up and became very famous for his juggling act, the story continues. He traveled far and wide and the crowds loved him, until … he DROPPED the golden Sun in the Heavens ball “and the rainbow of balls came crashing down and the crowd stood around him and laughed! But not from joy.” Feeling utterly defeated, he made the decision to give up juggling forever.
But the story doesn’t end there. As it turned out, his best performance was yet to come. (Click HERE to hear the story yourself.)
Instead of incorporating my own “God ball” back into the rotation of balls I was juggling, my spiritual director suggested I might want to just leave it where it is for now. “Just sit with it,” she said.
Back at the drawing board (Photoshop, that is), I pulled up my Clutter Mountain graphic and painted my “God ball” gold like the one in the children’s book. I then imagined myself crawling out from under the clutter pile and sitting next to the golden “God ball” with my eyes closed and my back to everything else – a cup of warm coffee in my hands and my two cats at my side.
Of course this meant the other balls I was juggling would drop – at least temporarily, I told my spiritual director when I showed her the edited graphic.
“That’s okay,” she said. “Those other balls will still be there when it’s time for you to get back to them. They’re not going anywhere.”