Once upon a time and long, long ago, the ocean came to know she was with child and cried. Her tears of joy and sorrow slipped down and then out to the rocks at Slieve League in County Donegal. The trickling saltwater soon pooled on the beach.
Then a miracle. The ocean, mother of all creation, beheld a figure and resounded with a blessed, silvern sound.
“A daughter, a daughter o’ mine,” the sea whispered and smiled. “Sin deireadh leis an dóchas!”
The comely woman near the shore heard only the wild wind, as her mother bid her last farewell. The back of her neck burned and she looked up at a yellow ball of light reaching down through azure blue.
The child of the sea was as beautiful as she was innocent. Even so, wicked curiosity soon bewitched her every thought. What was she to make of this new world? Why could her slender hands not reach the blue so high above and touch it to stem the heat? Her curious nature and her heart’s hunger drew her inland.
As she trod, step by step atop cool, smooth pebbles, she pictured the sea, and heard its comforting rhythm and pounding roar. Soft water laps and loud-wave crashes lulled her to near dreaming, begged her to return?
She paused to breathe the salt-sweet air. Small creatures, black and tickly, buzzed near the curve of her seashell ears. Then there was a new sensation, so swift and sharp her emerald eyes dripped tiny tears.
Time passed. Swift as a lifetime or slow as the light from a dying star. No one can ever know. But the daughter of the ocean withered without the ebb and flow of water life. She grew disjointed and confused without the rhythm of daily tides to steady her soul.
Land creatures shunned her as an outsider. Just as well as she trusted them not, in turn, for she was gripped by fear from a near-mad vision of their wide-open maws puffing hot breath her way as she slowly turned to vapor and salt mist.
“Why have you, Mother, my sweet, honest, sea forsaken me?” she cried. Had all that was good and full of grace vanished in the wind?
No answer came. So she took to a safe cave, where frozen ice glittered up high, to watch this new world. Eons passed. In time, her innocence faded. Her lonely soul longed for any manner of living. She could hide no more.
One barren morning she braved a walk in the sunshine’s glare. Unbeknownst to her, she caught the eye of a land creature, new to the inland. She soon sensed something had changed and turned. Their gaze met and locked.
What an odd thing, the ocean’s daughter thought. A different sort, tall and strong, but like a scruffy shore-tree that had weathered the wind for too many days. Was it a stranger to this land, too, she wondered, with a strange prayer silent in her heart.
Then the land creature crossed over to greet her.
“ Dia dhuit!” it hailed.
Up close it seemed not as weathered with scruff. The ocean’s daughter warmed to the new thing the second her heart beat like a bird when it took hold her hand.
“I am a man,” he said.
To her delight, he spoke in words she could understand. He told of a life lived lonely, too, along ledges of barren rocks stuck between the land and shore. Came one morning, he heard a soft call that drove him to wander down to the beach, searching for he knew not what. But now, he knew his quest was over. This woman was the summit of his lifelong dreams.
The landman said if she wished, he’s lead the woman back to the shore to melt into the sea once more. She pondered a bittersweet homecoming, reunited and moving with the ocean tide. But the land man’s intent was true and kind.
And then she finally understood. She was to blow with the blustery wind, tides, and waves. He was to stand firm and define the shore, a safeguard from the crush of the crashing sea. Even so, there was still a small path where they might flow and melt in the spaces in between, to nourish their souls and create more life. Two halves of one, they were destined to live side by side, together, yet apart.
So, the woman reached out to the landman and he carried her to the water’s edge. Once he put her down, he stood fast and fixed. She then melted but anchored just beside where his feet were planted. At last, locked in their true destiny, the coast, their coast, could never wash away. And as they had merged in love, new life was born. Creatures of all sorts would find their way from the land to sea and back again from that day forward. And the landman and the water woman, never to touch again, would watch over us all for eternity.