THERE are many people we speak to in the course of a day, not to mention co-workers and family members. What we say to people has a greater impact than we may often realize. A recent conversation I had with a neighbor illustrates the effect of choice words. It was late fall. I had been ill, but was feeling better and I ventured outdoors to rake some leaves. That's when my neighbor called to me. She asked where I'd been. She said she'd missed seeing me outside. When I explained, she responded, "If I had known, I would have baked you a pie! Her kindliness went straight to my heart. It lifted my spirits. I could feel the love that impelled her thoughtfulness.
Ordinary pleasantries and courtesy make our everyday lives run more smoothly. But when our words spring from genuine, spiritual affection for our fellowman they can do more than that. In fact, when our words are spiritually impelled--by God, divine Love--they can bless and heal.
As children of one Father-Mother God, all of us are truly one family, brothers and sisters in Christ. "Let love be without dissimulation. . . . Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love, urges the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans.
It may seem all too easy to categorize others and thereby justify our indifference to them--or our antagonism to them. But such divisions have nothing to do with the innate spiritual goodness of each individual as a child of God. Through our spiritual sense--our ability to see the God-created identity of ourselves and others--we learn to love our fellowman. And we learn to find the right words to express that love.
The spiritual affection we come to feel for others has its source in divine Love, God. It's a God-impelled affection that mirrors God's own love for His offspring. More and more, we can let divine Love be reflected in us. This entails subduing the mortal traits that would keep us from caring--such things as pride, timidity, stubbornness, and resentment. These have no place in our spiritual nature. We begin to destroy these mortal traits as we uncover and confront whatever it is that is keeping us f r
om expressing love.
To do this, we need to pray. Listening to God--silently, faithfully, and expectantly--enables us to feel the presence of divine Love. It allows us to discern more of our true nature as Love's spiritual creation. In the light of God's allness, we begin to see that our genuine nature already includes the humility, courage, obedience to God, and forgiveness that we need if we are to fill our words and our lives with love for our fellowman.
We live our prayer as we test our new understanding of divine Love in the crucible of human interaction. We'll inevitably make progress as we trust God to govern our words and deeds.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, taught that all are truly children of one God. When we understand this more fully, we'll see more clearly how natural it is that we do, therefore, care about each other. Included in her Poems is one entitled "Love, which ends:
-Fed by Thy love divine we live,
- For Love alone is Life;
-And life most sweet, as heart to heart
-Speaks kindly when we meet and part.
As we cultivate spiritual affection for our fellowman, we'll find our speech filled with words that comfort and cheer. The purity and spontaneity of unselfed love will bless all those we meet.