The ocean was always my world. Stretching to infinity, clean and pure and sparkling in the midday sun, silver moonlight creating a path across the waves at midnight. My world and I were young and vibrant, filled with infinite promise.

The summer I was ten my first treasure arrived. A hand-blown glass float broke loose from the fishing nets and bumped up against my feet with the incoming tide. I held the glass ball to the light. Pale blue, roughly faceted, it was more beautiful to me than any jewel could have been.

That summer my mother was reading Anne Morrow Lindbergh. The book cover was pale blue with seashells. The book, my glass ball – these were messages! I had my very own Gift from the Sea.

At twenty, I spread my blanket beside the lapping waters at dusk, aching from the loss of my mother. For the first time in my life, the ocean and its gifts of moonlight and sparkling sun and blue glass were not enough. I was lonely. I wanted someone to comfort me and hold me. The swimmer who emerged from the dark blue water walked slowly toward my blanket, sat down beside me and leaned over to give me my first kiss.

All night we murmured and moaned in rhythm with the crashing waves. In the morning he was gone, but I was no longer alone. My daughter Murielle – “shining sea” – was born the following spring.

Ten years later, Muri dove and splashed, swimming circles around her little boat. “Mama – look! I’m a mermaid!” She could swim before she could walk, totally at home in the water. I fell asleep, certain she was safe. When I woke up, the empty boat was slowly bobbing away from the shore.

The divers found her tangled in debris – carelessly thrown garbage upsetting the ocean’s natural rhythms. Miraculously, she lived.

Today I turn forty.  Murielle and I lead the Friends of the Earth Women’s Crusade – cleaning, healing, teaching, helping.

Now it’s our turn to give gifts. Hand in hand, we sing as we work, a thousand women strong.

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Margarida Brei
Margarida Brei(@margarida-brei)
12 days ago

Literally, I held my breath when Murielle was found trapped in rubbish. So glad that the two women formed an alliance to clean the sea. Powerful writing, Julie!

Deborah Goulding
Deborah Goulding(@deborah-goulding)
12 days ago

Julie, a beautiful and heartfelt story. I loved it. I imagined being there. I too, grew up near the ocean. Many a summer spent at the beach. Its value was exceptional in all ways. The best of times in my youth. I’m so happy Murielle survived. Great read! Many thanks for what you all do!

Deborah Goulding
Deborah Goulding(@deborah-goulding)
Reply to  Julie Harris
11 days ago

Atlantic Ocean, with its inviting surf! Back then, you would spend your day at the beach! Family friendly. Fenwick island Delaware/Ocean City, Maryland!
The hunt for colored sea glass was a past time in Florida.
So fortunate to have spent many a day at the beach!

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
3 days ago

I was amazed by every word of your story, Julie. It’s like I’m there. But when Murielle was tangled in debris I felt so sad and a little dismayed. I didn’t expect that the girl was miraculously safe. I love it, especially the ending. Great story and message. Let’s work hand in hand.

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