Before cell phones and social media, back in the day when there was nothing but endless good day sunshine, I traveled with a boyfriend in an old white Ford van 10,000 feet up into the Oaxaca mountains in southern Mexico in search of los ongos, the magic psilocybin mushrooms, and the small band of indigenous Indians who lived in the mist that covered the mountain.

They welcomed us, put us up in a small thatched hut, and took us out every morning to gather the nondescript brown mushrooms off cow paddies. They fed us homemade cheese and tortillas; we played them sweet baby james and lost track of time.

Weeks later when we pointed the van down the mountain, the mist parted and I heard a voice telling me it was time to follow the path of love.

Sure. I can do that.

I sold everything. My car, my stereo, my fancy social worker clothes and impossible four inch heels. My skis. I was moving to California. Searching.

It didn’t take me long to end up at the feet of a guru. He had me at Namaste.

He said he could teach me about love.

I said great when do we start?

He said trust me I know what’s best for you.

I said hmmmm, okay. Maybe.

I said I want to have a family. I want to have a baby.

Time was ticking. By now I’d already spent way too long rubbing his already not so holy feet.

He said motherhood is not your path, and if you disagree with me it means your love isn’t pure.

I said but wait…I really really want to have a baby.

He said if you argue with me it means your love isn’t pure.

I said if I can’t follow the longing of my heart I’ll be lost.

He said if you leave me you’ll be lost.

I took a deep breath said fuck you and slammed the door on the way out.

I married my sweetheart and gave birth to the child I longed for. But still. I doubted myself. What if he had been right? What if I had blown my big chance to follow the path of love?  It took a few years for the obvious to sink in while my life blossomed like a red red rose:  my heart had been my guide to finding love all along.

What if what we yearn for with all our heart is the needle of the compass pointing us to the fulfillment we crave.

What if you said enough to the news for one day, shut it all down, and what if in the quiet space of your heart you sent your soft song out into the world, still so full of beauty and wonder, and what if you heard the world sing it back to you in birdsong.

What if we collected the missing pieces of ourselves, the young ones still sitting on a cold curb, the ones who left in shame and despair, and invited them back home. For tea and a hot bath. What if they are waiting to whisper the secret of what we loved when we were young. What we still love.

What if what you love is what your ancestors loved…the salt of the sea, the smell of winter, the starfish hands of a newborn, and what if they find their joy once more through you.

What if you believed that your love was enough, that forgiveness is possible, and that you are here to add the rhythm section of your heart to the garage band tuning up to ecstatic chords of peace and joy.

Imagine that our imperfect love is perfect.  Imagine that when we rise mute and disheartened, weighed down by grief, we knock on the door of our heart and say…Get up honey. It’s time to put your red dress on. Time to add your song, your dance, your heartbeat to the gathering at the edge of the forest, at all the fast running waters, at the center of the center of your life. Imagine believing that your holy love, your broken hallelujah, is exactly what the world needs today.

It could happen any time, tornado,

earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.

Or sunshine, love, salvation.

It could, you know. That’s why we wake

and look out––no guarantees

in this life.

But some bonuses, like morning,

like right now, like noon,

like evening.

(William Stafford, 1914 – 1993)

5 thoughts on “imagine

  1. What if you’re driving down the highway of life, with Aretha on the radio, and she hits notes and feelings so much bigger than yourself you cannot find words to describe them, so you just scream to let those feelings escape? Does that count?


  2. Oh sweet baby James. After a moment of doubt (a long moment), you ran right out that door into your own true love. Smart move. Love you. Keffi


  3. Stunningly beautiful, Nancy! I love you bunches and I am so glad I still remember you in the woods in Felton. xox Lisa


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