We brought Miss Liberty Belle home on Saturday. Only 7 weeks old, she’s already reminding me of the ancient wisdom inherent in all living things.

Miss Liberty Belle - 7 weeks

People, animal, plants all need much of the same  basic things: food, water, sunshine, rest, companionship, space to spread out our wings and fly, but also time to withdraw and recover.

Most of all, we need love. John O’Donohue writes “Love is absolutely vital for a human life. For love alone can awaken what is divine within you. In love, you grow and come home to your self.” I suspect he’d say it’s true about other life as well. When we are loved, we feel at home within ourselves and secure when we venture out into the world.

So love will be an essential nutrient we feed our little lass over the days, weeks, months and years ahead. And our number one dog, her uncle Legend, will also be getting more focused time and attention. We’ve committed ourselves to daily morning and evening walks since he thrives on exercise, discipline and affection – in that order (Cesar Milan’s three basics for well behaved dogs).  With a new puppy competing for attention, he needs to know more than ever how much we love him.

Any of you who read my blog regularly know I place a premium on love. Without it, all our efforts to be well, stay fit, eat right and look our best will fail to give us what we really long for. I can’t count the number of women who’ve sat in my office and told me that their efforts to lose weight were mostly driven by their longing for love. They hope that by perfecting their external appearance (an impossible task since perfection is an impossible goal), they’ll finally attract the love they long for.

Bottom line: love begins with me. I must all open myself to what Henri Nouwen refers to as “the first love.” Nouwen says that the love we receive from other living beings (human and otherwise) awakens our dormant desire to be completely and unconditionally loved. But our great task is to realize that the love of others is not the ultimate source. The love we receive in them is part of the greater love of a Creator who created us in love, from love, to love and be loved. Love is the beginning and the end.

Legend and Liberty soaking in the love

And, love is what frees us to live with liberty. More on that topic in the days, weeks and months ahead. Until then, may you have eyes to see and willingness to receive that great love that is the source of all love. It’s all around you. You must be willing to look for it and accept it in the forms and packages it comes in – human and otherwise.