At the airport today I watched a woman reach out to support a perfect stranger. She saw that he needed a little steadying, and she stood by him for support. But it was so much more than that. She extended to him such warmth and affection that he could accept her support with his dignity intact. I think he hardly knew he was being supported. He just saw and felt the friendly affection she was expressing.
Affection touches us. When someone reaches out in pure affection, with genuine unselfishness, our hearts soften; we immediately become more patient, more generous, more affectionate ourselves. Affection redeems the moment; it builds bridges; it eases tensions. Pure affection not only comforts, it inspires.
Where does it come from, this pure affection? It is a quality of divine Love, or God. Pure affection is expressed in tender sentiment, complete goodwill, and selfless acceptance of others. The Bible tells us that “We love because he [God] first loved us” (I John 4:19 English Standard Version), and Christ Jesus taught and illustrated this love in his kind affection for others, as well as in his healing work.
Understanding that God loves each of us as His own child, the object of His affection, is an important starting point for our affection. But while man is the object of God’s love, he is also the image and likeness of God, and so he is the very image of Love. Man exists to express the nature and presence of infinite, divine Love, and that includes genuine, heartfelt affection. Expressing this pure affection toward others is a natural outcome of knowing that we are one with God and come from God.
The Monitor's founder and Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, once wrote, “More love is the great need of mankind. A pure affection, concentric, forgetting self, forgiving wrongs and forestalling them, should swell the lyre of human love” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 107). I like that idea of affection being concentric. There is great strength in that fact. Concentric circles share the same center. What makes affection concentric is understanding that God is the center. God is the source from which we emanate, and this single source anchors our hearts and minds to that which is loving and kind – that which is affectionate. If I am aware that God is the source and center of my being, and that God is also the source and center of my brother’s being, then he can’t move outside my love and I can’t move beyond his love, because we are both embraced in, and express, the Love that is God.
Pure affection pours sweet goodness into our human experience. It is constructive and helpful. It is patient and kind. It brings out the best in everyone – the giver and the receiver. And we can’t help but express it, because divine Love is our spiritual origin. Expressing affection is innate to our very being. It’s natural and joyful to express this pure affection. And when we do, no matter how simple the gesture, as the woman in the airport showed, it makes a difference.