Thursday, August 9, 2012

Love and Well-Being



How important is Love to our well-being?

I keep hearing about numerous studies that have been done in the last few years which would strongly indicate that those of us who have people who care about us are healthier and have a better chance for recovery when we do fall ill.  Certainly it is easier if we have someone who cares about our well-being.  Imagine being very ill and at the same time, alone, without support from anyone who cares about you.  For many of us, it would be easy to give up in those circumstances.

St. Paul said it well:  “Though I give my body to be burned and all my money to the poor, and have not love, I am but sounding brass.”    I love the imagery.  I think of a church bell, ringing loud and long, but uncaring, not knowing what it calls.  The empty sound.  Good works without the Love to back them up. 

(On the other hand, I do have to wonder why on earth would you give all your money to the poor if you didn’t Love them?)

I am fortunate, for I have always had very good taste in people.  My friends are some of the best folks in the world. And I do think one component of well-being is how much love we experience, whether in giving or receiving.  We need to give love as much as we need to get it, but sometimes I think we forget that.  We want someone to care about us.  But we also need someone to care about.

When I think about the individuals who have kept me going, who have always been there for me, who never cared whether I was fat or thin, well or ill, rich or poor, those individuals have almost always been my four-footed friends.  When  I think about those who have wanted and appreciated what love I had to give them, again, it has been animals.

Currently I live with 6 cats and 3 dogs.  And each one of them is different.  Each has a distinct personality, likes and dislikes, preferences about what is good and what isn’t.   Murray likes to borrow under the covers, Ben is frightened when a blanket is offered.  Lil Bit likes to jump and play, Fred prefers to spend time watching out for strange dogs and cats and warns us if they might try to trespass.  Tabigayle runs and hides when strangers come near, Franklin greets them and questions them about their worthiness to be in his home.  Paulie Paul and Prescott run and hide from company, Addams nags and persists until the company allows him to sit in their laps -– and then he fills the room with purr..

But each and every one of them has been a comforter, a friend, a teacher, a companion, a blessing in my life.

Frankly, I pity folks who have not known how to love an animal, who have not had an animal’s love.  For me, it is a way to be connected to the entire universe.  Human ego so often seems to think that we are the center of the universe, it’s ultimate reason for being.  But we are not so important.  We are merely another bead in the long string of life.  We share this planet with myriad life-forms, all of which are important.  All of whom are deserving of love and care, just as we are.