A part-historical, part-legendary Irish hero named Niall is said to have encountered a goddess who called herself Sovereignty. He was in the wilderness hunting with his brothers, and they stumbled across a sacred well attended by an ugly old hag. Thirsty, the oldest brother approached the water but the crone blocked his way. “You can drink all you desire young man but first you must give me a kiss.” Revolted at the mere thought, he backed away. The second oldest stepped forward but received a similar challenge from the hideous woman. Each brother in turn declined the request for a kiss, until the youngest, Niall, stepped forward and offered the hag a full embrace. Their lips locked, and magic happened. When Niall stepped back, he found that the old crone had transformed herself into a radiant, lovely lady. “I am Sovereignty,” she said, “and since you alone of your brothers has accepted me in my dark aspect, now I accept you as the king.” And so it was that Niall became king of the land.
Why was it important for Niall – or for any king actually, – to accept the ugly side of Sovereignty as a prerequisite to enjoying her beauty? Perhaps this story contains an ancient truth. Sunlight only shines for half of the day. Light emerges out of darkness, and so to reject darkness means to reject the original state of all things. Niall’s brothers made the mistake of passing judgement on someone they deemed as ugly, repulsive and unattractive. Only the youngest brother could see that a kiss was a small price to pay for the nourishing waters. So what if the old woman wasn’t so much to look at? And of course, by accepting her, he proved himself worthy to see that her decay is only part of her story.
There’s a phrase for you: “only part of her story.” Each one of us is a magnificent story, filled with heart, emotion, dreams and desires. We also have our share of loss, disappointment and sorrow. Think of when you encounter someone: an angry person standing in line at the post office; a harried mother with rude, bawling children; a government employee who’s not interested in all the reasons why your taxes were paid late. When we encounter such people, we only encounter part of their stories. sometimes, the parts we see are not to our liking. Perhaps we can take a lesson from Niall and remember that there’s more to them than meets the eye.
Taken from 366 Celt by Carl McColman