• Greg Silker

Listen to your own count. The Apprentice Juggler

I’ve often felt a little “different…” and feared that difference somehow disqualified me from fitting in…or making a meaningful contribution.  That’s why I love story of The Apprentice Juggler.  It is a children’s story.  Here’s  a quick synopsis. 

The apprentice juggler was a member of the juggling troupe of Great Park…the domain of the King.  But the apprentice juggler had a secret.  His inner count was different from the other jugglers.  They rhythm that seemed to come naturally to the other jugglers was unlike the rhythms he felt inside.  And so he forced himself to mimic the common count – and ignore his own.  He hid his count from the troupe and from the juggling master.

But the apprentice juggler had a problem.  His troupe was preparing to perform at the Great Celebration.  And he was due to perform a solo for the King.  How could he keep his secret at such an event?

The night of the Great Celebration, the apprentice juggler hid in the woods just out of  site of the festivities and juggled absentmindedly.   Every person joining the Great Celebration had to walk through a ring of fire that revealed their true identity.  How could he, with his secret, walk through the flames?  How could he perform before the King, knowing that his count was off…that he had this secret…that he didn’t fit?

As he hesitated, the apprentice juggler was approached by an old beggar.  The beggar commented on his juggling.  “I saw you juggling.  Your count is different.  I understand.  My count is different too.  Listen to your own count.”  If even this beggar had recognized his count was off…how could the apprentice keep it a secret?

The beggar wandered off toward the Celebration, made entrance – and a cry went up from the crowd…”To the King!”

The apprentice juggler was flabbergasted.  The beggar was the King.  And the  beggar King had said to juggle to his own inner count.  So the juggler hurried to join the Great Celebration.  He made entrance.  And when his turn came to solo, the apprentice juggler listened to his own count.  His count was indeed “off”  – and so was his juggling.

The balls flew crazily through the air…much too high.  And sometimes they fell past his hands…almost hitting the ground, only to be popped back into the air by his foot.  His whole routine was different, crazy, impossible.  And the crowd loved it.

When the apprentice juggler finished his routine, he was looking into the eyes of the King…who was smiling his approval.  The juggling master came up and shook the apprentice juggler – at the same time stern and laughing… “Why didn’t you tell me?  Why didn’t you tell me you had a different count?  You’re a clown – a clown juggler!  You look like you can’t do it, but you can.  That’s the best kind!  We’ll bring down the house!”   The apprentice juggler explained that he thought he would lose his place in the juggling troupe if he followed his own count.  The juggling master retorted “Lose your place?  Find your proper place that is.”

I love that story.  The King says “Listen to your inner count.”   Don’t spend all your time trying to be like others just because they look successful, popular or confident.  You can certainly learn from people with different “counts” and different calls.  But don’t compare or evaluate the value of your gift…or the impact you think it can have.  God works through strange and small things.  Mother Theresa famously said “There are no great acts.  Only small acts done with great love.”

Life and love and creativity flow when we believe that God can speak and work through us – with our unique gifts, quirks and make-up.  Rest in his love for you and your secure place in Him.  Then Listen.

Who knows what crazy impossible things will be created.

For the complete…and better telling of the story, read The Tales of the Kingdom by David and Karen Mains.  It contains many other wonderful insightful stories.

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