Once there was a mouse named Jeremy who, like all the other mice, lived in a little village hidden away in the woods. He was always busy, doing the things that mice do, running and jumping, looking and searching, hurrying and scurrying, to and fro. It seemed he was always in motion. In fact, he hardly ever stood still. And, like the other mice, he couldn't see very far. Nor was he able to see very clear. For mice, as you may have noticed, usually have their whiskers in the ground.
One day Jeremy began to hear a new strange sound, one he had not heard before. It was a roar coming from somewhere out in the distance. Now, Jeremy was used to the sounds of the forest. He knew the different sounds of the two- legged and the four legged and the winged and the hoofed. But this was unlike anything he had known.
Sometimes, he would stop everything and lift his head to the direction of the roar. He would strain to see what may be there, and he would wiggle his whiskers hoping to sense something in the air. What could it be, he wondered?
Jeremy scurried up to a fellow mouse and asked him, "Brother Mouse, do you hear a sound, a roaring in your ears?"
The other mouse didn't even bother to lift this whiskers our of the ground. He was too busy. "No, no, I don't hear anything. And besides, I don't have time to talk." And off he went before Jeremy had a chance to say anything more.
Not to be easily discouraged, Jeremy decided to ask another mouse the same question. Maybe this mouse had heard the sound.
The second mouse looked at him in a most peculiar way. "Sound? What sound?" And before Jeremy could stop him long enough to describe what he had heard, the second mouse scampered off, disappearing behind the pines.
When none of the other mice knew anything about the sound, Jeremy decided that the best thing he could do would be to forget about the whole thing and get busy. He knew how to be a busy little mouse. And so he started hurrying and scurrying to and fro once more.
But no matter how busy he was, he would still hear the sound. He tried to pretend that it had disappeared. But even when he tried not to hear it, he knew it was still there!
Jeremy became more and more curious about the sound. So one day, he decided to go off by himself and investigate. It was easy to scurry off from the other mice. They were too busy to notice he had gone anyway.
When he was off by himself, the sound was stronger and much clearer. Now he could sit quietly and listen hard.
Jeremy stood on the edge of Mouse Village and looked back at the only life he had ever known. He sat listening to the sound for a long time. But he knew he could no longer be content to just listen. It was time to discover more about this sound. He turned to face another direction. He looked out into the darkness of the vast unknown and boldly left Mouse Village.
Jeremy was listening hard to the sound in the distance, when suddenly he heard someone say, "Hello Little Brother." Jeremy was so startled he almost ran away. "Hello," again said the voice. It sounded friendly enough.
"Who are you?" asked the timid little mouse.
"It is I, Brother Raccoon. You are all by yourself, Little Brother," said the raccoon. "What are you doing here all alone?"
Jeremy was embarrassed. He didn't want to have to talk to anybody about the sound. Especially not after what happened in Mouse Village."
"A roaring in your ears? You mean the River," said the raccoon, without any hesitation. "Come, walk with me. I will take you there."
"Once I find out about this River, I can go back to my work and my life in Mouse Village," thought Jeremy. "Why, I will even ask Raccoon to return with me. If the mice in the village don't believe me, they will surely believe a raccoon."
Little Mouse walked close behind the raccoon, so as to be sure not to lose his way. His heart was pounding. He had never known such excitement. They wound their way through a cathedral forest of tall evergreens. There was an intoxicating smell of pine and cedar. As they drew closer to the River, the sound became louder. The air became cooler, and there was a fine mist. There was a sense that something important was about to happen. Suddenly, they came to the River!
The mighty River! It was so huge that Little Mouse could no see across it. And it roared, loudly, rushing swiftly on its course, coming from some other place, going to the great unknown.
"It is powerful!" the little mouse said, fumbling for words.
"Yes, the river is a great thing," answered the raccoon, "but here, let me introduce you to a friend."
In a smaller, shallower place was a lily pad, bright and green. Sitting upon it was a frog, almost as green as the pad it sat on. The frog's white belly stood out clearly.
"Hello, Little Brother," said frog. "Welcome to the river."
"I must leave you now," cut in Raccoon, "but do not fear, Little Brother, for frog will care for you now."
"Who are you?" Jeremy asked.
"Why, I am a frog.""
"A frog?" questioned Jeremy. He had never seen a frog before. "how is it possible to be so far out in the mighty river?"
"That is very easy," said the little frog. "I can go both on land and on water. And I can live both above the water and below in the water. I am the Keeper of the Water."
Jeremy was astonished! He tried to think of words. He had never met the Keeper of the Water. But no words came.
Without hesitation, the frog said, "Little Mouse, would you like some Medicine Power?"
"Medicine Power? Do you mean for me? Yes, of course. What do I do?" asked the eager little mouse.
"It is not that hard. All you need to do is crouch down real low and jump up as high as you can."
"That's all?" asked Jeremy.
"Yes. Crouch down as low as you can and jump up as high as you can! That will give you your medicine!"
Little Mouse did exactly what the frog told him to do. He crouched down as low as he could and jumped as high as he could. And when he did, his eyes saw something even more powerful than the mighty River. He saw the Sacred Mountain.
How long Jeremy gazed at the Sacred Mountain, we can't be really sure. For such moments exist in a space somewhere beyond time. But suddenly, everything changed. Instead of landing on familiar ground, the little mouse splashed down in water. And mice, as you know, can't swim very well. Jeremy was terrified. He flailed his legs about, trying to keep head above water, choking and sputtering, struggling for his very life. He was frightened nearly to death. Finally, he managed to make his way to the river bank.
"You tricked me... you tricked me!" Little Mouse yelled at the frog.
Undisturbed by Jeremy's creaming, the frog said calmly, "Wait. No harm came to you. You saw the Sacred Mountain, didn't you? Let go of your anger and fear. It can blind you. What matters is what happened. What did you see?"
The little mouse, still shivering from the fear of landing in the water, could hardly speak. He stammered, "The...the Sacred Mountain!"
"You are no longer just a little mouse. You have a new name. You are Jumping Mouse."
"Oh, thank you," said a startled Jumping Mouse. "Thank you, thank you."
Jumping Mouse stood up and shook off the water. And he shook off the anger and fear. He thought instead about the beauty of the Sacred Mountain.
With great excitement, Jumping Mouse set off for Mouse Village. Everyone would be so pleased to see him. Why, there might even be a celebration in his honour!
When Jumping Mouse arrived, he was still wet. But it hadn't rained in Mouse Village and everyone else was dry! There was great discussion as to why Jumping Mouse was wet. Could it be that he had been swallowed by some horrible beast and then spit again? That would mean there was something horrible wrong with this mouse. Fear took hold; who knew what could happen once you left Mouse Village? No one wanted to spend time with Jumping Mouse. His stories about the River and the Sacred Mountain fell on deaf ears.
Even though no one in Mouse Village believed Jumping Mouse, in time it didn't matter. He never forgot his vision of the Sacred Mountain. Jumping Mouse stayed in Mouse Village, but of course now life was different. But then, he was different.
Jumping Mouse settled quietly into life in Mouse Village. For a while, that is. But there came a day when he knew he must leave. The memory of the Sacred Mountain was no one he could forget. He knew that somehow he must find his way there.
Once again, Jumping Mouse went to the edge of Mouse Village and looked out onto the prairie. This time, there was no raccoon waiting. There was no path, even. He knew that now he must find his own way. He looked up in the sky for eagles. It was full of many brown spots, each one an eagle. At any moment, they could swoop down from the sky. Even though his heart was pounding with fear, Jumping Mouse was determined to go to the Sacred Mountain. And so, gathering all his courage, he ran just as fast as he could onto the prairie.
Jumping Mouse ran until he came to a mound of sage. He was sage now, out of view of those brown spots in the sky. He was resting and trying to catch his breath when he saw a kind old mouse, a country gentleman. This patch of sage, which was home for the old mouse, was a haven indeed. There were plentiful seeds, varieties which he had never seen, and material for making nests. So many things for a mouse to be busy with.
"Hello," said the kindly old mouse. "Welcome to my home."
Jumping Mouse was amazed. He had never seen such a place. Or such a mouse! "What a wonderful place you have. You have everything here. And you are even safe from the eagles. I have never seen such a place like this before."
"Yes," smiled the kindly old mouse, "it is sage here. And from here, you can see all the beings of the prairie. Why, there are buffalo and rabbit and coyote and fox and..."
Jumping Mouse listened in amazement as the old mouse named every animal of the prairie. Why, he knew all their names by heart!
"Sir, what about the river and the mountains? Can you also see them?"
"Well, little friend, you can certainly see the river. I know of the river. But as to the mountain, I am afraid that doesn't exist. It is just a myth, a story that people enjoy telling. Young man, take my advice and forget about the mountain. Everything you could want is here. You can stay with me for as long as you like. And besides, this is the best place to be."
For a moment, Jumping Mouse questioned his decision to go to the Sacred Mountain. He was tempted to stay put and make a life here with Country Mouse. It was such a comfortable place. And certainly it was far greater than the life he had known in Mouse Village.
Jumping Mouse listened carefully to the words of Country Mouse, especially what he had to say about the Sacred Mountain.
"How can you say that the Great Mountain is only a myth?" challenged Jumping Mouse. "Once I saw the Sacred Mountain, and it is not something one can ever forget."
Jumping Mouse had his answer. He knew he must go. He thanked Country Mouse for making him feel so welcome and for sharing his home. "I cannot stay longer. I must go now, to seek the Mountain."
"You are a foolish mouse, indeed, if you leave here. The prairie is a dangerous place, especially for a little mouse! Why, just look up in the sky." The old mouse pointed dramatically to the sky. "See up there? Those spots are eagles, just waiting for a little mouse. They can see for miles. And they will catch you!"
Even though Jumping Mouse listened as Country Mouse gave his fearful warnings, and even though in the sky there were still those brown spots... Jumping Mouse knew he must make his way to the Sacred Mountain. He stood still for a moment, took a deep breath, gathered his strength, and once again ran with all his might across the prairie.
It was hard for Jumping Mouse to leave the comfortable life with Country Mouse. Out on the prairie was much to be afraid of. As Jumping Mouse gathered all his courage and ran as hard as he could, he could feel the brown spots flying high overhead. Would those brown spots really swoop down and catch him, just as Country Mouse had said? He shivered at the thought. He was truly in the unknown now.
All of the sudden, he ran into a stand of chokecherries. It was a wonderful place to explore. Why, there were things to gather, delicious seeds to eat, and many grasses for making nests. Jumping Mouse was busy investigating his new terrain when he saw an enormous, dark, furry thing lying motionless in the grass. He decided to climb up on it. There was a large mound to explore. There were even horns to climb on. That would be fun, thought Jumping Mouse.
Immediately, he made his way on one of the horns, when all of a sudden he heard a sound. It sounded like a moan. It seemed to come from the dark furry thing! Quick as a wink, Jumping Mouse scurried down to the grass beneath. There was another moan, and the sound of deep breathing.
A voice said, "Hello my brother."
"Who are you?" asked a curious Jumping Mouse. Why I am Buffalo?"
"A Buffalo!" thought Jumping Mouse. Even in Mouse Village he had heard of the mighty buffalo!
Jumping Mouse had never before seen a buffalo. Certainly, no buffalo had ever lived in Mouse Village.
"What a magnificent being you are," Jumping Mouse said to Buffalo.
"Thank you, my little brother, for visiting me."
"You are lying down. What is wrong?" asked the little mouse.
"I am sick and I am dying," said Buffalo. "There is only one thing that can save me. That is the eye of a mouse; but there is no such a thing as a mouse out here on the prairie!"
The eye of a mouse! Jumping Mouse was astonished! "You mean my tiny little eye could save this magnificent being?" He darted back to the chokecherries. He scurried back and forth. What to do, what to do. But he could hear the breathing of the buffalo. It was slowing down and becoming heavy.
"He will die," thought Jumping Mouse, "if I do not give him my eye. He is such a magnificent being. I cannot let him die."
With no time to waste, Jumping Mouse scurried back to the spot where Buffalo lay. "I am a mouse," he said with a shaky voice. "And you are such a magnificent being. I cannot let you die. I have two eyes. If my eye can save you, I will gladly give it to you."
The minute he spoke, Jumping Mouse's eye flew out of his head and Buffalo was made whole. The buffalo jumped tho his feet, shaking Jumping Mouse's whole world.
Buffalo said to Jumping Mouse, “I know that you have been to the River. And I know of your quest to the Sacred Mountain. You have healed me. Because you have given so freely, I will be your brother forever. To cross the prairie, you must run under my belly. I will take you right to the foot of the Sacred Mountain. Have no fear for the spots in the sky. The eagles cannot see you while you ran under me, for you will be safely hidden. All they will see is my back. I know the ways of the prairie. You are safe with me."
Even with the confident words from Buffalo, it was frightening to be walking under a buffalo on a wide-open prairie. What about the brown spots? They were still in the sky. And the hooves were scary. What would happen if one landed on a little mouse? With only one eye, it was hard to see well enough to stay out of the way. Each time the buffalo took a step, it felt like the whole world shook. It seemed to take ever so long to walk across the prairie. But finally they stopped.
"This is as far as I go," said Buffalo. "I am a being of the prairie. If I were to take you further, I would fall on you."
"Thank you very much," said Jumping Mouse. "It was frightening crossing the prairie with only one eye. I was so afraid that one of your powerful hooves would and on me!"
"You did not know, my little brother, that there was never any need for fear. For I am a Sundancer, and I am always sure where my hooves land. My time with you is over. I must go back to the prairie. You can always find me there."
With that, Buffalo turned and left.
Jumping Mouse was happy in his new surroundings. There were new things to investigate. There were plants in abundance and new seed to enjoy. As he was busy exploring this new place, suddenly before him was a great wolf. The wolf didn't seem to see the little mouse. In fact, he didn't seem seeing much of anything. He was just sitting there, doing nothing.
Jumping Mouse was pleased to find a new friend in the woods and spoke to him right away. "Hello, Brother Wolf."
Immediately, the wolf's ears sat up and he became alert. He looked directly at Jumping Mouse. "Am I a wolf? Yes, that is what I am. Wolf?!Wolf! I am a wolf!' He seemed quite pleased with his new discovery. but then his mind dimmed again, and in a matter of minutes he had forgotten completely who he was!
Several times the same sequence occurred. The wolf would just sit, quietly staring out into nothingness, completely without memory as to who he was! Jumping Mouse would say, "but you are a mighty being. You are a Wolf.
"Yes," would come the answer from the gray wolf. "I am a wolf! Yes, now I remember. That is what I am!" He would become excited once again. But soon would forget again.
"Such a great being," thought Jumping Mouse, "but he has no memory. He has forgotten who he is."
Jumping Mouse would help the wolf remember who he was for a moment, but then he would forget again. Jumping mouse wanted to help his new friend. "If giving up an eye could help the buffalo, then, maybe, I could give up my eye to the wolf and he would be well, too." This time there was no hurrying and scurrying around. And there was no need to ask anyone else for advice. He knew how to find his own answer. This time, he went to a peaceful spot and sat quietly. In the silence, he listened to his heart. It told him exactly what he must do.
Wasting no time, Jumping Mouse hurried back to where the wolf was.
Brother Wolf," he called out.
"Wolf? Wolf? Came the still-confused response.
"Brother Wolf, listen to me. I know now what will heal you. If I could give an eye to a buffalo and it would heal him, then I will gladly give you my eye."
No sooner had he said the world that the last eye of the little mouse flew out of his head. Now Jumping Mouse had no eyes. But that didn't seem to matter so much. What mattered was that the wolf was whole again. He could remember who he was.
As soon as the eye of the mouse went into the wolf, he was healed.
Tears started to flow down the wolf's face. Of course, Jumping Mouse could not see him because he had no eyes. He was blind; but even without eyes, he could see that the wolf was whole again. Now, the wolf could remember who he was.
"Thank you Jumping Mouse. You have healed me," said the wolf, as tears ran down his cheeks. "Thank you my little friend. Now I can remember many things. I am the guide to the Sacred Mountain and to the Great Medicine Lake. And it is your time to go there. You are blind, so you must follow close beside me. But I know the way, and I will take you there."
The wolf, with his little friend close by, slowly made his way through the tall pine trees to the edge of the Sacred Lake. Unlike the river which roared as it rushed over rocks, the lake sat in perfect stillness.
"This lake," said the wolf, "is more powerful even than the mighty river. For this is a Medicine Lake. It reflects all the world, all the people of the world, the lodges of the people, and all the beings of the prairies and the skies. It is said that he who drinks of this Sacredness is given the wisdom to understand the mysteries of life."
Jumping Mouse leaned down and drank the cool, refreshing water from the Sacred Lake.
The wolf said, "This is where I must leave you, little friend, for I must return. There are others I must guide. But if you want, I will stay with you for a while."
"Thank you, my brother; but you must go, and it is my time to be alone." Even though Jumping Mouse was trembling with fear, he said goodbye to his friend.
Jumping Mouse stood alone and trembling, sensing what was to come. He knew, somehow, that an eagle would find him. All of the sudden he could feel a shadow on his back. Then he heard the noise of a giant eagle swooping down, coming closer. He braced himself for what was to come...the noise grew louder, an enormous swoosh... then, a thump on his back. Jumping Mouse fell into a deathlike sleep.
After a while- we have no way of knowing how long, since time in such experiences has no meaning- Jumping Mouse began to awaken. The surprise of being alive was great. And he could see! Even though everything was blurry, he could see colours and they were beautiful.
"I can see! I can see!" said Jumping Mouse again and again.
A blurry shape started to move near Jumping Mouse. Jumping Mouse squinted hard, trying to see, but the shape remained a blur.
"Hello brother," a familiar voice said. "Do you want some medicine?"
"Some medicine? Me? Yes! Yes!"
"Then," said the voice, "what you must do is crouch down as low as you can, and jump as high as you can."
Jumping Mouse did exactly what he was told. He crouched as low as he could and jumped as high as he could! Suddenly, a wind caught him and began to lift him higher and higher.
"Do not be afraid!" the assuring voice called out. "Ride the wind. Hang on to it. It will carry you... TRUST!"
Jumping Mouse did as he was told. He closed his eyes and let go. The wind began to carry him. The wind, the breath of Great Spirit, lifted him higher and higher. This time, when Jumping Mouse opened his eyes, they were clear. The higher he went, the clearer they became. He could see with the eyes of an eagle. He could see through things and into things. He could see miles away. He could see in the Spirit Way.
As Jumping Mouse looked down, way below was his old familiar friend. There was the frog, sitting in a lily pad on the beautiful Medicine Lake.
"You have a new name," called the frog. "You are no longer Jumping Mouse. You are Eagle!"