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The Life of Jesse: A Novella

Jesse undertakes a journey in pursuit of the big questions: Why are we here? What is the purpose of existence? Jesse’s fantastic journey into the land of Skritsan leads her to Shagen, the Great Wisdom, who helps her to an understanding of the Great Composition. Jesse meets several compassionate characters, which appear in the form of gentle creatures, like Tohei, the mouse who guides her, and Nuvish, the tortoise who protects her. These characters lead Jesse and instruct her in her inner journey. Then she returns to her birthplace to bring her own message of peace, compassion, and self-sacrifice. Although Jesse’s story is pure fiction, it has spiritual symbolism and philosophical undercurrents concerning the relatedness of various world cultures and philosophies.

 

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Book Excerpt

Tohei explained that they would have to go through the box canyon to get to Shagen’s magnificent gateway. Jesse patiently plodded forward until they came to a place with high rock walls on either side of a deep gorge. Nothing could be seen at the top of the walls, but there was light up there, while the deeper part of the canyon was filled with shadows. The water in the river, flowing through the gorge, was a great deal tastier than the dusty water that Jesse dug from the earth previously, but the steep walls of the canyon were intimidating. Tohei, the mouse, led her to a place where the sheer cliff had enough texture for handholds, but Jesse still could not bring herself to believe that she could climb such a wall. At the base of the cliff wall there was a tortoise poised and looking up at her. Tohei introduced Nuvish, the tortoise, and explained that he was the protector. How the simple tortoise could protect, was something that did not make much sense to Jesse, but not much of the mouse’s words or actions had made sense to her yet. Nuvish offered to provide the first step in Jesse’s assent to the top of the wall, and Jesse put one foot on the back of the tortoise and stretched an arm up to the first natural hand grip in the wall. Pulling herself upward by placing her hands one at a time to grip the rock crevices, and with the helpful leverage of the tortoise beneath her feet, she made some progress up the vertical wall. Not wanting to look down, she kept her face forward and upward, while feeling her way gradually and carefully up. Tohei, the mouse, stood fast and still while Jesse made gradual progress. She grew weary from the strain of climbing, but was determined to keep going. There was a small ledge at about the halfway point, where she pulled herself up and sat to look out over the canyon. The beauty and mystery of the valley spread out below her as she caught her breath. She could see the river flowing through the gorge, both gentle and powerful. The pliable liquid currents gave way to the hard rocks, yet over time it carved out the impressive gorge. She looked upward to examine the remainder of her climb. She was halfway. Feeling more confident and having some sense of accomplishment, she felt that she should be able to finish the climb. Once she regained her composure, she set out again. Stretching her arms and feeling for handholds, she felt the earth give way at some point and slipped downward. Losing her grip, she fell, but her feet caught on something that held her aloft. Shaken, but relieved to be safely on something solid, she looked down toward her feet. There was Nuvish, the tortoise, holding her up, and pushing her weight upward toward the top of the wall. Jesse reached out and grabbed a hold of the base of a small tree and pulled herself up on top of the cliff wall. Once she had caught her breath, she turned to thank Nuvish, the tortoise, but he was nowhere to be found. She looked down into the canyon, and thought she saw the back of the tortoise slowly moving, trudging along the floor of the canyon. “Thank you Nuvish,” Jesse whispered.

 

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