My pussy is wise beyond its years. Ever since I can remember, it was never perfectly symmetrical or delicate-looking. It looked older to me. I am adept at comparing myself to other women when it comes to physical attributes. I learned at a young age that part of my value was based on my looks, and all of the feminist consciousness in the world hasn’t completely erased that notion. Yet, for some reason, when it comes to my pussy, it hasn’t bothered me that I feel it doesn’t fit the model of conventionally attractive cunts. Somehow having a viejita (translation: little old lady) for a vulva seems like a good thing.

If I felt my face looked older and wiser than my years, it would bother me. My pussy? Not so. To me, it has its own identity, one of knowing something, of having a deeper understanding than the rest of me. Someday my brain and my heart will catch up to what my pussy already knows: How to be compassionate, to embrace without judgment, and how to offer a warm refuge. My pussy knows just how to love.

Read: Your Vagina Isn't Ugly, It Just Looks That Way

It’s like some old Auntie sitting on a porch during a storm.Come on in, boys ... it’s nice and warm in here. Auntie will feed you, take care of you. She knows just what you need. There’s room enough for everyone. Don’t crowd, not all at once.

My pussy's lips are wrinkled and darker than the rest of my skin. They can be stretched way out wide. I imagine how they envelop, provide warmth, comfort and knowledge. They receive as an act of love. There is nothing passive about being penetrated. I've seen lots of pictures and porn of pretty little perfect pink pussies, but they don't seem to suit me. When it comes to lipstick and sparkly accessories, I love pretty and pink, and while symmetry is a universally recognized standard for beauty, it doesn't seem to apply to my pussy. My pussy has a higher purpose; it's better to have an old crone who can work her sweet and tender magic.

Friends used to joke about my college roommate. They said her pussy must be lined with gold. This explained why so many men wanted her. I’m not sure my lining is gold. Mine is so much more than something shiny. My pussy is flesh; an opening and the gateway to life.

There are fewer nerve endings the further you go inside, but it is so much more than a mere passageway. This wrinkled, asymmetrical cavern is strong, capable, willing, open, flexible and life-giving. These thoughts make me want to cry. I feel emotion welling up inside of me. Not enough to make a tear fall, but enough to feel that writing this is a way of loving myself fully , accepting this deep and integral part of who I am. Imperfection is not a flaw, it’s me.

What would it be like to love the rest of me in this way? What if we all felt we had a gold lining running from the top of our heads to the tip of our toes and especially around our genitals? Or silver, rainbow, blue velvet, white lace, or black latex?

At a sexuality and intimacy workshop I recently attended, the women were given speculums and mirrors. We got to look at and share our cervixes with others. At first, we shared them with just the other women. I felt comfortable sitting with my legs spread and letting others look. Then, we invited the men in and it was up to us if we wanted to invite them to look as well, to see inside. We had already been with these people for a day of intense group bonding. I trusted these men. I felt I could trust them to respect my wisdom.

Come have a look, men. See what mama’s got for ya.

They asked permission and thanked me when I granted it. They stared. They took their time. They looked deeper. They said they felt honored. They thanked me again. They were in awe. Not just of me and my cervix, but of all of the women. Those who shared and those who didn’t. I think many of us felt the same about them. They showed such reverence.

I do like to think that somehow my pussy is special. Yet there is a wisdom and a refuge that we all offer. It’s just that we rarely take the time to look that deeply inside.

Try imagining a place where it’s always safe and warm.

Come in, she said, I’ll give ya shelter from the storm.

-Bob Dylan