My family and I went bowling the other day. We ordered soft drinks, changed our shoes - and ready, set, go! We decided to form two groups, competing with each other. The group that didn't look good at all was my group - and it was because of me. I tried my best, but my ball never had the right spin, left the bowling alley too early, hit two pins at the most.
But there was a turning point. I remember finding right in the bowling center the time to pray and to listen quietly. I wasn't ashamed anymore. I also didn't want to beat the other group; I simply wanted to be - to be what I am. I wanted to discover new possibilities and a promise. I wanted to discover the quietness of Spirit and the power of divine Life, present where I was - at a pace I could deal with.
This simple listening to another reality, unseen but not unfelt, made all the difference. I suddenly was just me; anxiety and ambition were gone. I took the ball, made a good approach, and hit all 10. Effortlessly. I left the center with a precious feeling for enlarged possibilities: I had touched something of the real me by entrusting myself to the rhythm of Spirit - an inner rhythm. It was not at all about winning; this experience told me something about life and finding a way to its secret. It reminded me of an experience I had some years ago.
I had been at a crucial crossroads in my career, and I suddenly became severely ill. Among several physical problems was a bladder infection, which forced me to stay in bed for weeks. A dear friend reminded me of this aphorism in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy: "One cannot scatter his fire, and at the same time hit the mark" (pg. 457).
I had been scattering my fire by taking on assignments and jobs that weren't really mine - or meant to be mine. I had lost for a time a feeling for a true purpose in life. In my experience, to stop scattering my fire meant focusing on just one thing: Keep the First Commandment, and obey only one God. And this I did. The commandment goes like this: "I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Ex. 20:2, 3).
Keeping the First Commandment meant this for me: Focus on God and on the qualities of God in my life. Stop ruminating and fostering feelings of discouragement and fear.
My health improved rapidly, and a certain clarity about what I should and shouldn't do started to permeate my thinking. I discontinued a very profitable project because I suddenly saw - clear as crystal - that this was not my project. It wasn't me; it wasn't a project that I could carry out under the First Commandment. Since I didn't feel led to continue this project under my yearning to understand and to obey the First Commandment, I stopped it immediately and disposed of everything that had to do with it.
There was a powerful healing but also an unexpected outcome in another direction. A call revealed the opportunity to enter the academic field, which has proved to be a blessing to me and to others.
The bottom line is this: We all need to find our individual "bowling alley," and we all can perform swiftly and with dominion in the field of our thought. We can find our own individual rhythm, regardless of what others may say about it and we can realize the gladness that comes when a life is governed by something higher - the clear and shining law of Life. The only Life. This discovery is indeed a strike!
The Lord of hosts
hath sworn, saying,
Surely as I have thought,
so shall it come to pass;
and as I have purposed,
so shall it stand.