As the Buddha lay dying, he uttered his final piece of advice to his mourning students: “Be a lamp unto yourself; work out your own awakening with diligence.” The idea is that we are all utterly complete, lacking nothing, but are ignorant about how this is so. Yet at the same time, we all need some help finding that wisdom, needing spiritual mentors who have themselves found their way and can nudge the rest of us towards our own awakening. This, in a nutshell, is the essence of Tom Fitzgerald’s fable Gabriel: King of Hearts. It is a moving, wise, and beautifully written retelling of the timeless spiritual lesson finding our own inner wisdom, and how one of our greatest gifts to ourselves and our world is to share this wisdom with all who seek it. By turns funny, heart-breaking, thought-provoking and tender, this is a book that will inspire you on your journey.
— Ban Nyo Sho Shin, Zen student
A meticulously-written, thought-provoking, massively-relevant, deeply-moving tale! Gabriel: King of Hearts should be required reading at the middle-school level and above. Bravo!
– Paul Cooper, Former President, Southfield, Michigan Board of Education
The aptness of the name Gabriel is not lost on the reader. The original Gabriel was an archangel who served as God’s messenger and was the only archangel sometimes represented as a woman. If you are of a religious or historical bent, you will like that echo. If you are purely secular, it is enough to know that Gabriel brings us messages from the hidden parts of ourselves that we try to overlook as we chase after status.
– Dori Hale, author of Disorientation and the Weather
Gabriel, a pre-adolescent gray squirrel, is being tormented at school by the socially dominant letes, led by Chopper and Bammer, who are always finding new ways to humiliate Gabriel in front of their peers. Gabriel is estranged from a biological father who has lost all contact with his only son; alienated from a stepfather who seems to resent Gabriel’s very presence; and barely tolerated by a popular older sister, Cherice, who beats Gabriel time and again at video games. To the chagrin of his mother and stepfather, Gabriel is no longer welcome at the Church of the Sacred Elm, where Gabriel recently asked the Reverend Willow, in front of the entire congregation, if the Great Rodent could create an acorn so big he couldn’t eat it all. Curious and reflective by nature, Gabriel had meant no harm; he had simply been unable to resist the demands of an insatiable curiosity.
Increasingly despondent and desperate, Gabriel sends a letter to Scurry McMurray, a celebrity pawnut player, requesting Scurry’s autograph. Gabriel hopes that possessing even a tiny piece of a celebrity pawnut player’s greatness will elevate his own stature in the eyes of his tormenters. When Gabriel does not receive a reply, he sets out, woefully unprepared, on a quest to get the great Scurry McMurray’s autograph in person. Venturing deeper into the forest than he had ever been before, Gabriel becomes hopelessly lost. What now?
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