Are you ready to live like Jumping Mouse?

One of my favorite stories EVER comes from many Native American traditions, and is estimated to be at least 10,000 years old. I read it when I was 15, in the book

Seven Arrows, by Hyemeyohsts Storm. I didn’t know why I began to sob as I read this apparently simple tale of a mouse who wants to find his way to the sacred lake that is the source of all things. I didn’t know until decades later that the story is a guide to awakening, that it metaphorically traces every step on the way to enlightenment.

The story is called “Jumping Mouse.” It’s about an ordinary mouse who can’t stop hearing the call of the rushing river (which symbolizes spirit or source). Little Mouse heads off on a journey to awakening. As it begins, a frog appears and insists that to follow his yearning, Mouse must jump. He must jump very, very high. After a few hesitant tries, Mouse puts all his tiny strength into one huge jump. He falls down into the sacred river, which terrifies him, but the magic has happened—at the highest point of his highest jump, he has seen the mountains of his soul’s home, where the still lake of spirit waits to show him his true self.

After that, Mouse gets a new name: Jumping Mouse. He no longer moves by creeping and crawling. He bounds along, leap after leap. (There actually is a species of mouse that gets around this way).

The point—everything that happens to Jumping Mouse has a point—is that once we’ve set out in search of Home, we can’t move by creeping and crawling any more. We can’t tiptoe, keep our profiles low, avoid exposure. Life becomes one leap of faith after another.

This is not an easy way to live. Jumping Mouse doesn’t have an ordinary mouse life. He has adventures that terrify and injure him. But along the way, he encounters and integrates great realizations, unusual friendships, deep wisdom, and finally his true self. Have you been to the river? Have you begun to live by leaping? If not, start now. Leap at the next chance that speaks to your heart. One leap of faith at a time, we’ll all get Home at last.

8 replies
    • Dace
      Dace says:

      Dear Martha, it surprised me a lot when the phrase "he has seen the mountains of his soul’s home" made tears in my eyes. I am a great fun of your writing – it has helped me a lot to start trusting myself and hearing my own heart. Thank you very much!

  1. Tamara Herl
    Tamara Herl says:

    I love this, Martha! Thanks for sharing. I have found that leaping helps me stop listening to my small self and old programming. When I start to hear the voice of my small self, I leap before small self can talk me out of it!

  2. Jackie
    Jackie says:

    A beautifully illustrated version of this story is the book The Story of Jumping Mouse by John Steptoe. I have used it to illustrate the hero's journey with children and adults.

  3. Jennifer Purdy
    Jennifer Purdy says:

    I visited your blog for the first time tonight, and I realize I have been a jumping mouse, but then a person cowering under a bed, by turns, for most of my career. In the last month or so I have become the jumping mouse! I intend to embark on my greatest adventure, to become a lifestyle medicine physician, in the new year. Thank you for everything you do!

  4. Tony Winter
    Tony Winter says:

    Hi M. As I read this on Chromebook propped open like teepee[never touch keys,stylus only]Cassie kitty beside me getting me relaxed and avoiding the flu 4th time since Friday,I hear buzzing,thought possibly "stinkbug"friend,nope it's a fly;you know avoid at all cost these disease carriers with beautiful complex compound eyes,and she was trying to scale the screen but kept slipping,so I flattened the notebook and she walked up to flying mouse,circled her a few times and danced on highlights.Peace!


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