Juggling was one of the games-with-purpose that found its way into the timetable for the leadership course. With one eye that is both lazy and short-sighted, that was never going to be my forte...though we did have fun devising ways in which we could at least keep our 3 balls in the air between the 2 of us. Later on, though, we were introduced to another game that felt rather too close to the reality of parish life.
We stood in a ring and threw a ball at random from one person to another, calling their name as we threw. After a few rounds of that, we agreed a pattern, which meant that I was always catching a ball from M and throwing it on to G.
I could do this.
Then the pace was increased.
And a second ball was added.
And a third.
It became harder work, and I dropped the ball a couple of times, but it was still pretty much OK.
And a fourth.
Not so good.
With six balls doing the rounds it was completely relentless, and M seemed always to be calling "Kathryn" and throwing something at me.
I dropped the ball again and again and again...I hurled it on in desperation and with ever-decreasing accuracy....
And the thing is, I was trying so hard - but I just couldn't do it.
It felt to me as if I'd let everyone else down if I kept on dropping the balls, but I'd also let them down if I said "No more. This is simply not manageable" and walked away from the game. I really didn't want to do that.
Even as I played, I recognised the sub-text...and knew that I would probably never admit defeat or ask for help as long as the balls kept whirling towards me.
But I don't think that's how it's supposed to be.
Dropping balls doesn't matter in the least when they are they are brightly coloured playthings. But when they are something rather closer to people, and their journeys with God...
Notes to self: remember your limitations before you start dropping things that matter. Ask for help if you need to. Maybe even put down one or two balls for a little while. They'll be quite safe.