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Archives Bishop LaValley shares a message for 2010 graduates

Have you ever noticed that mice are very busy creatures? I mean, they gather seeds and grain and collect little bits of straw or sticks for their nests. Always keeping their noses to the ground, they scurry here and there looking for whatever food and bedding they can find. Normally this is all they do and all they expect to do. The Plains Indians, however, tell a story of one mouse who was different. Perhaps, you have heard it. Permit me to share it with you.

One day this busy little mouse began to hear a faint thundering noise in the far distance. She inquired of the other mice if they, too, heard the noise. No one else did, so she decided to forget the matter and busied herself all the more with her chores. Yet, she continued to hear the thundering noise. Try as she would, she could not ignore it.

Determined to discover the source of the thunder, the mouse set out on a perilous journey across the open prairie. Along the way she encountered predators, as well as numerous animal friends who assisted her in her quest. When she finally arrived at a river--the source of the thundering noise--a frog suggested that if the mouse wished to see the river beyond the cattail reeds, she should leap as high into the air as she could. And, so doing, not only did she see the river, but she also caught sight of the sacred mountains, though still far away. At the same time, the frog gave her a nickname: Jumping Mouse.

Jumping Mouse returned to the other mice and told them of her journey, of the thunderous river and of sacred mountains. Some merely ignored her, some feared her, and some laughed, mocking her new name. But they all preferred to remain busy about their usual, routine work.

Jumping Mouse decided that she must see the mysterious mountains up close, even if it meant journeying there alone. Again, she was assisted by other animals of the prairie who either admired her courage or pitied her silly curiosity. When at last she arrived at a lake near the mountains, she jumped once more into the air to get a better glimpse of them. Carried by the mountain wind, she ascended higher and higher--up to the mountain peaks. In the process, she was changed and received another name--the name by which she has been known ever since, according to the Plains Indians. That name: eagle.

I think that certain facets of the journey of Jumping Mouse might be appropriate for us to consider on this occasion in which we honor our graduates. Mice are busy creatures that always keep their noses to the ground. Normally this is all they do and all they expect to do. To our graduates: as your school days come to a close, what kind of expectations do you have--to do enough to get by in this busy world, or to reach for the stars, to be content with the routine or to search for the sacred mountains of your life? There is no heavier burden that a great potential. You all have great potential. You have the burden of living your potential to the fullest. Jesus says, “Wherever your treasure lies, there will your heart be.” What is your treasure? What is your dream? Where is your heart?

Jumping Mouse was assisted by many friends as she encountered predators on her journey. As you follow your paths of life, you will remember the laughter and pain you have shared with the friends you have made at school. Friends are lifetime partners on our earthly pilgrimage. May we never forget that we have a true friend in Jesus to share our burdens and joys as we walk humbly with Him.

Some of Jumping Mouse’s friends preferred to remain busy with their sights fixed on the ground before them. May your friends inspire and encourage you to be all you can be, never to settle for mediocrity. Future dreams shine like bright stars against distant nights. What you can do or dream you can, begin now! Courage has genius, power and magic in it. Be courageous, be creative like the God in whose image you have been created.
Believe in yourself, what you think, what you feel. Believe in the truth, the ideal, believe in the good in people. Believe that your dreams can someday become real. Believe in yourself and in what you can do. Believe in the goals that you strive to pursue. Believe in the friends who believe in you.

Jumping Mouse was admired for her courage and hope. You, the graduates of 2010, are called to be courageous and hope-filled. You look for the good in people instead of harping on the bad. You discover what can be done instead of grumbling about what cannot. You regard problems, large or small, as opportunities. You push ahead when it would be easy to pull up and quit. You light a candle instead of cursing the darkness.

When we say a situation or a person is hopeless, we are slamming the door in the face of God. When we prefer not to take the risks in order to catch sight of the sacred mountains, to tap our dreams,
then we allow the divine treasure we have been each called to be, to tarnish. When worries or just plain lack of initiative cause us to be comfortable with the normal, the mundane, our growth is stifled. Never, never be comfortable with just getting by, with just making the grade. Remember, when you try only to be average, you are just as close to the bottom as you are to the top.

In school, we get our lessons and then receive the tests. When we leave school and get into the world, we get the test first and then learn the lesson later. May you always trust that the Lord is with you as you encounter tests and trials in your search for the sacred mountains in your life. May you soar on eagle’s wings and know that our Lord is with you always. God bless you all.

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