MANY years ago, while I was living far from my family, my dad passed away. Then, in quick succession, my best friend departed for service in VISTA, two other close friends moved from our local community, and my girlfriend and I sadly parted company. I guess the fact that these things happened within two weeks makes it a bit unusual. In the months that followed, there was a strong and natural longing to fill the void left by these very large changes in my life. I can't remember when the empty feeling dissolved. But dissolve it did. Loving and profound gratitude for both my parents replaced lingering grief. New friendships and interests eventually developed. Soon I met someone who has turned out to be a permanent companion -- my wife.
It might be natural to think that the new people and activities in my life filled the void. But, thinking about it now, I realize that wasn't entirely the case. Though these new friendships did mean very much to me, still God's love for me was already filling the void. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in the Christian Science textbook: ``Would existence without personal friends be to you a blank? Then the time will come when you will be solitary, left without sympathy; but this seeming vacuum is already filled with divine Love.''1
Many find little difficulty in accepting the idea of a loving Deity. And many recognize the love of God as touching their lives at various times. Sometimes our deepest friendships carry such a message. But what are we to think when a cherished friendship changes suddenly?
Perhaps such a circumstance can turn us toward discovering more about the love of God and the nature of God as divine Love itself. Because God is Love, rather than just a loving God (which is true also, of course!), He does more than just touch our being from time to time -- He supports and surrounds it totally. In fact, our real being, His spiritual likeness, is inseparable from Him. The New Testament tells us, ``God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.''2
God's love fills the very place where we might be feeling a void. Because God is infinite and always present, so is love. Some of life's friendships last and last; but others don't. Yet the understanding that the infinite love of God fills all of being -- including ``voids'' -- can turn thought from separation or loss to gratitude for what was good in a friendship and to a willingness to move forward.
Another specific about God's love -- it's concrete, tangible, and warm, not vague or distant or cold. ``Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him,''3 Christ Jesus said. Because love springs from the all-wise God, it is intelligent, and it has depth and purpose. Inevitably, of course, it demands that we grow spiritually in our thinking and living.
Though God's love is not, of course, a person sitting in the same room talking with us, it is a tangible presence. It is companionable in that it can meet our deepest needs for communication, affection, and worth in a spiritual way. And it is satisfying.
As we make God's love a companion through prayer and through daily worship of our creator in every thought and action, we become a better friend to others. ``Love enriches the nature, enlarging, purifying, and elevating it,''4 says Mrs. Eddy. Expressing this love, we are all the more ready for new friendships.
1Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 266. 2I John 4:16. 3Matthew 6:8. 4Science and Health, p. 57.