I’m no physics expert—far from it! But, I’ve been thinking about centripetal force lately. It’s the force that keeps things moving toward the center. In fact, the word "centripetal" literally means center-seeking. Physicists would tell you that it’s what keeps the planets orbiting around the sun instead of spinning off indefinitely into some far-off corner of the universe.
We see the benefits of centripetal force here on earth, too. For example, it’s what keeps your bottom securely in your seat when you’re riding your favorite loop-de-loop roller coaster at the theme park. Even though your world is momentarily upside down, centripetal force keeps you in place by pulling you toward the center of things, rather than letting you be flung off into the funnel cake stand!
So, what does all of this elementary physics discussion have to do with the practice of Christian Science? Well, this center-focused force is more than just physics; there’s a deeper law working here—a spiritual law. For me, centripetal force is a symbol of the power of God, divine Spirit, causing us to be more acquainted with Him.
In the Christian Science textbook, Mary Baker Eddy says, “God is at once the centre and circumference of being” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 203). It follows, that God is right here and now, directly in the middle of everything you are, everything you do, and everywhere you go.
God, being the center of all things, His action, like centripetal force, is pulling our attention toward Him. I like to think of it this way: “There is but one real attraction, that of Spirit. The pointing of the needle to the pole symbolizes this all-embracing power or the attraction of God, divine Mind” (Science and Health, p. 102).
The prophet Jeremiah recorded God’s promise of His attracting law when he wrote, “they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 31:34).
This centripetal-like power is causing our thought to focus on God, Spirit, and therefore, the spiritual nature of things. You may not have labeled it this way, but there is tangible proof that this is happening continuously.
Whenever anyone feels a desire to be better, or to see more good going on around him or her—that’s God. Whenever anyone longs to break free from the burden of fears and limitations—that’s God. Whenever anyone stamps his or her feet and demands to see nothing less than the reign of peace in the world—that’s God, too. These are some of the indications that God is working centripetally to spiritualize our concept of things.
But, what about centrifugal force—you know, the opposite of the center-seeking force? If I were spinning a ball on a string and someone cut the string, that ball would zing off in whatever direction it happened to be going at that moment. But, physicists would tell you, what looks like centrifugal force causing the ball to sail away is actually not a real force at all. It’s merely a reaction to not enough centripetal force to keep the object in place.
Similarly, there's no opposing force that can "cut the string" on our gravitation toward God. In fact, God's action has no opposite. Unlike in physics where there can be an insufficiency of centripetal force, with God, there is always enough. Since He is the center and circumference of our being, He is within and without everything--He fills all space. God and what He has created is all there really is. There is never an absence or lack of anything that God is or does--never a shortage of His centripetal-like power.
So, get on that roller coaster and loop that loop. And while centripetal force is holding you tightly in your seat, you can recognize that God is also holding your focus on Him and the true spiritual nature of all things.
Another thought on centripetal force:
Miscellaneous Writings p. 19
Miscellaneous Writings p. 307
I hope these insights will inspire readers to think more spiritually about themselves and the world around them!