Jumping Mouse

In the hollow of the hillside, between the Great Plain, and the Great River, was a field where the mice lived. It had long grasses that provided protection from eagles, and an abundance of shrubs, plants and flowers. The mice busied themselves each day, as only mice can do. In the summer they collected seeds, roots, ground nuts and other morsels, to store away for the cold winter.

Amongst them was a mouse who was not at ease. He was often seen stretching on his hind legs, ears pointing to the West, intently listening to a far away sound. “Can you hear a strange sound, like a roaring in the distance?” he asked the other mice. But they just shrugged and continued their searching and collecting. One time, he asked an elder of the village – “Grandfather, what is the roaring sound that can be heard from the West?” The Grandfather stopped his activity for a moment, looked down at the young mouse, and said firmly: “There is no roaring sound. Nothing to be concerned about. Continue only with your mouse activity. Forget about the sound.”

Try as he might, Mouse could not unhear what he had heard. Some days, as if pulled by the sound, he ventured to the margin of the forest, the edge of the mouse world, and pulled himself up to full height, as if straining to hear it better. On one such occasion, deep in concentration, he was suddenly accosted by a question: “What are you doing here Mouse?” It was Racoon. Mouse spun around in surprise, and as his nature was to trust he could not lie, so he replied to Racoon: “I hear a roaring sound coming from the West, and I have come to investigate.”

“A roaring sound eh? I can tell you what that is. It is the Great River. I am going there now. Would you like to join me?” Mouse, although full of trepidation, ran along behind Racoon, as they descended through the forest. The canopy of trees became taller, and as they moved between them, the sound became stronger. Eventually the air was full of moisture, and Mouse could feel the presence of the great mystery. When the river came into view, the rushing water was a torrent of power and energy, and it carried great and little pieces of the world along it’s snaking path. “Here we are” said Racoon. I must wash some food to bring to my children, but look, in the shallow pool, there is Frog. He will take care of you from here.” Mouse stepped forward to the edge of the shallow pool and squinted his eyes to see clearly through the mist, and there was Frog, sitting on a lily pad. He called out: “Brother Frog. Aren’t you afraid to be inside the Great River?” Frog stared at the frightened Mouse and replied: “No. I am not afraid. When winter freezes this medicine, I can live below the ice. I dwell both  above and below. I am the keeper of the Great River.” Mouse listened and thought: What a  wise being this Frog is!

Then Frog called out: “Brother Mouse, would you like some medicine power?” And Mouse replied: “Why Yes!” “Then crouch down as low as you can and jump as high as you are able” So Mouse crouched down, and squeezed himself into a tight ball, then leapt as high as his powers could muster. He tumbled through the air, and then dropped into the water. Spluttering and scrambling to the shore, Mouse pulled himself out of the water, and turning to Frog he cried: “You tricked me!” Frog smiled and replied: “Calm my brother Mouse. You are not harmed. You have received a vision. What did you see on your flight above the waters?” Mouse reflected for a moment. “I saw – The Sacred Mountain.” “Yes” said Frog with a wide grin. And you have a new name now. You are Jumping Mouse.”

“Thank you, thank you” replied Jumping Mouse, full of confusion and nervous excitement. “I think I will go back to the mouse field now, and tell the others of the wonders here.” “You can return. Just keep the sound of the Great River behind you.” So Jumping Mouse ascended back through the forest to the world of his origins.

When he arrived, he tried to explain about the Great River, but the other mice shunned him. They saw that he was wet, and they thought that some creature had tried to eat him, but had spat him out as poison, and now he had lost his mind.

Jumping Mouse continued his daily mice chores, but he found himself drifting towards the southern edge of the mouse field, the start of the Great Plain, and the direction of The Sacred Mountain. He wanted to go there, to follow his vision, but there was little protection for mice on the Great Plain, and he would be easily spotted by Eagle. After days of anticipation, and without thinking, he just began to run towards the South and an unknown future.

He darted between rocks, feeling the power of the sun upon him. Guided now only by his vision, this new world was wide, open and enormous, and he could not know his way. Only by trusting his inner guidance could he continue. After some time, hot, tired, and lost, Jumping Mouse happened upon a stand of choke-cherry trees, that provided shade,  protection from Eagle, and rest. Gratefully he ate some seeds and berries, and found water to refresh his parched and tired body. Then suddenly, he saw an old Grandmother Door Mouse. He stared at her with awe and said: “Grandmother, you live here in the middle of the Plain?” Grandmother Mouse replied: “Yes, this is my home. From this place, I can see all the creatures of the world, but they can not see me. I have all the food I need. And I am safe from Eagle. This is a good place.”

Jumping Mouse asked: “Grandmother, do you know the Great River, and the Sacred Mountain?” “Yes.” She replied. “There is a Great River, far away to the west. But there is no such thing as the Sacred Mountain. Forget about that brother Mouse. And stay here with me. There is enough for us both. We can be well here together.”  

Jumping Mouse shared the abundance and generosity of Grandmother Door Mouse’s world, but when he was fully rested, he told her: “Thank you for your kindness. I will always remember you. I must resume my quest now for the Sacred Mountain.” And he set off once more towards the South, dodging the shadows cast by Eagle, and weaving his way between boulders. On and on he ran, under the burning sun, and as he ran, he became the Sun, the dusty Earth and the hot wind. When he found a water hole, he immersed his tired body, and became the water. In one such moment, as he was drinking from a small creek, he heard an enormous and frightening noise, like thunder. He moved towards the origin of the sound, and there he saw the most incredible sight. A great mound of hair, rising and falling – a Buffalo, lying on the Earth, and breathing with a sonorous heavy wheeze. “Why brother Buffalo” called out Jumping Mouse, “You are so great and powerful, but something ails you” Buffalo replied: “I am sick, and I am dying. There is no medicine that can save me, other than the eye of a Mouse.”

Jumping Mouse stared with awe, and he found himself saying: “But I am a mouse and if one of my eyes can heal you, then I give it to you, with all of my heart.” In that moment, the eye of Jumping Mouse was transformed into medicine, and Buffalo stood up on to his four strong legs. He looked down at the now one-eyed mouse, and he boomed: “Jumping Mouse. You have given your eye to make me whole. I know of your quest for the Sacred Mountain. I am you guide. I will take you to the foothills. You can run under my belly, and you will be safe from Eagle.”

So together they ran. The hooves of the buffalo thundered around the head of Jumping Mouse, creating a storm of dust and sound. And on and on they ran, until they arrived at the southern edge of the Great Plain, and the foothills of the Sacred Mountains.

“I can accompany you no further than here” said Buffalo, “for there are others I must guide on the Plain. But now you can climb and keep safe from Eagle in all the rocky crevices and hollows. I know you will complete your quest. You will always be my brother.”

Jumping Mouse picked his way upwards. The Sky was a vast canopy of blue, and his world was now something he could have never known or imagined before. He continued onwards, remembering Buffalo, Grandmother Door Mouse, Frog and Raccoon. On a plateau with a vast expansive view to the North, he rested for a moment. But there, sitting on the ledge, he saw a Wolf staring out into the distance. He approached her, and noticed that although her eyes were open, they seemed to be empty. “Mother Wolf. You seem sick. What ails you?”

Wolf flicked a momentary glance towards Jumping Mouse, and replied: “Yes. Wolf. I am she. I am Wolf” And then the emptiness returned to her gaze. Jumping Mouse stared at Wolf, and he reflected for a long time . And then he spoke: “Mother Wolf. You have lost your mind. I am a mouse. And if my eye can heal you, then I give it to you, with all of my heart.” In that moment, the second eye of Jumping Mouse was transformed into medicine, and Mother Wolf was healed.

She stood up on her four strong legs, and she looked down at Jumping Mouse, who could not see the tears that flowed down her cheeks as she said: “Jumping Mouse. You have given up your sight to save my life. I know of your quest for the Sacred Mountain. I am you guide to take you to the Mirror Lake, from where all can be seen with the inner eye, the past, the present and the future. And as we journey there, you can hold on to my tail, and I will share with you all the visions that we encounter along the way.”

Slowly, carefully, Wolf guided Jumping Mouse through the mountain landscape, all the while describing the visions until finally, they arrived at the heart of the Sacred Mountain, the Mirror Lake. “We are on the top of the world. The waters of the Mirror Lake are still and deep, and they hold the memory of all that ever was, and the potential of all that will be. I can stay here with you now as long as you want.”

Jumping Mouse drunk in the sounds, the feelings, and the words of Wolf. “I have arrived. There is nowhere else for me to be. There will be others that you must guide here. I will always be grateful to you. And I will always remember you.”

Now Jumping Mouse was alone, and he knew that here, at the top of the world, there would be no protection from Eagle. He braced himself, as he heard the call. She cried out from above, and began her descent. She fell towards him like a stone, and the hairs on his neck bristled in preparation. She came closer, and her cry echoed across the lake. And in that moment he heard a familiar voice: “Jumping Mouse, would you like some medicine power?” It was Frog. “Then crouch down as low as you can and jump as high as you are able”  

Jumping Mouse crouched down, and squeezed himself into a tight ball, then leapt up as high as his powers could muster. As his body rose higher and higher, he could see with new eyes. Blurred at first, but with each moment, becoming sharper. He saw the Mirror Lake and the Sacred Mountains below him. He saw the Great Plain. To the west, the forest and the Great River, and in the hollow of the hillside, in the far distance, he saw the mouse field, and all the mice busily gathering and collecting their supplies for winter. He saw into their hearts, and he felt only love and compassion, for them, and for himself.

Far below, upon the Mirror Lake, he saw Frog,  sitting on the lily pad, with a wide grin: “Don’t be afraid. Learn to soar. Hang on to the wind. Hang on to the wind” He called. “You have a new name now. You are Eagle.”