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Affection, as I have said, is the humblest love. It gives itself no airs. People can be proud of being ‘in love’, or of friendship. Affection is modest—even furtive and shame-faced. Once when I had remarked on the affection quite often found between my cat and my dog, my friend replied, ‘Yes. But I bet no dog would even confess it to the other dogs.’ That is at least a good caricature of much human Affection. ‘Let homely faces stay at home’, says Comus. Now Affection has a very homely face. So have many of those for whom we feel it. It is no proof of our refinement or perceptiveness that we love them; nor that they love us. What I have called Appreciative Love is no basic element in Affection. It usually needs absence or bereavement to set us praising those to whom only Affection binds us. We take them for granted; and this taking for granted, which is an outrage in erotic love, is here right and proper to a point. It fits the comfortable, quiet nature of the feeling. Affection would not be affection if it was loudly and frequently expressed; to produce it in public is like getting your household furniture out for a move. It did very well in its place, but it looks shabby or tawdry or grotesque in the sunshine. Affection almost sinks or slips through our lives. It lives with humble, un-dress, private things; soft slippers, old clothes, old jokes, the thump of a sleepy dog’s tail on the kitchen floor, the sound of a sewing-machine, a gollywog left on the lawn.

From The Four Loves

The Four Loves. Copyright © 1960 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

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