During my writing conference last year, I was advised to pay careful attention to the earth's face as I slow-walked around Taos, drunkenly in love with the cottonwood trees and the magpies who are a cliche there, but were new to me. I decided with intention that I was going to collect rocks to take back with me...but only heart-shaped ones.
This first one leapt up from the lawn at Kit Carson park and lodged itself in my astonished palm. In all my years before that moment, I'd never found a heart-shaped rock, but as soon as I had the thought--it appeared.
In the days that followed, an unusual magic took hold and I found heart-shaped rocks boldly perched on the sidewalk, in the rutted side streets, and on the walk through the mesa. Taos was heavy with them...pregnant with worn, lovely stones. This one I found only moments before I left town after our final session. I was crying and sitting on a stump, waiting for my ride. As delighted as I was to return to M. and my children (each of whom I was missing terribly) a part of me feared I would never make it back again. A part of me feared that the vast space of the sky and land would fail to follow in my life. The seamlessness of my days there was intense--I learned that I liked my own company. I bent down to adjust my boot and there it was...
I laughed then, because I knew I was taking the most perfectly formed heart in New Mexico home with me...a gift from the land herself. Putting it into my jeans pocket, I knew I would reconcile my instinctive need for solitude and creation with my primal need for those people I love most.
Several months later, I was at the beach with M. and our kids on my birthday. Back home, heart-shaped rocks were still finding me with some regularity in parking lots, neighborhood walks, and garden beds. I had tapped into some current where my thoughts somehow made manifest these unusual shapes from nature--or, I started to realize, maybe my attention was altered and I was just noticing the hearts that had been there all along...
The day was perfect--the trip, the ocean swells, the eager cries of gulls overhead. My eldest girl came running up to me where I sat on the blanket, watching her siblings tangle around each other through the tides and her father swim over the darkening waves. "Happy birthday, Mom," she said, holding her hands shyly behind her back. "Thanks, hon," I answered, moving in to embrace her. Then, suddenly she dropped this heart shaped chunk of coral onto my lap.
I grabbed it up, surprised at the birthday offering from my baby and the temperamental sea. Proving once again that the unexpected gifts are the best ones...My collection of unusual hearts has shifted my perspective. Lying together en masse on my dresser, they comfort me on sight. One is slipped into my pocket on those days I need a steady talisman borne out of time and wear...love, just waiting there to be noticed.