Bowling with the First Commandment
Friends, family members and I went bowling some years ago. We ordered soft drinks, changed our shoes to bowling 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 bowl never had the right spin, left the bowling alley too early, hit two pins, the most.
But there was a turning point. I was finding right in the Bowling centre the time to pray and to listen quietly. I wasn't ashamed any more, 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 bowl, went to the alley, had a good run-up and hit all ten. Effortlessly. I left the centre 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 not only of the well-beloved book Zen in the Art of Bow-Shooting by Eugen Herrigel, but also of an experience I had some years before. I had been at a crucial cross-road of my career and I suddenly became severely ill. A dear friend reminded of this aphorism to be found 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." (p. 457)
I had been scattering my fire by taking on too many 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: Keeping the First commandment, to 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." (Exodus 20:3)
Keeping the First commandment meant for me this: Focusing on God and on the qualities of God in my life means to refuse to ruminate. In God there is no time or opportunity for discouragement. My health improved, a certain clarity about what I should and what I shouldn't do started to permeate my thinking. I discontinued a 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 and disposed of everything that had to do with it. A new door opened soon afterwards.
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 realise the gladness that comes when a life is governed by something higher, by the clear and shining law of Life. The only Life! This discovery is indeed a strike!
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In my work as Christian Science practitioner and writer I draw on listening to God and listening to people.
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