The door of the Shame blows open and there he stands,
covered in skins and snow and sweat.
"The usual," he cries and steps across the threshold
into the warmth of family and friends.
He is greeted with hugs and smiles and tears,
such is the love for his face.
He immediately unshoulders his pack,
like some feral St. Nick on that blessed night.
A hearty laugh and the wink of a boy.
Gifts are handed to each one by name;
a book with gilded edges, a stone from sacred ground, the statue of a squirrel, a cross from the town of magic.
The gifts are as much "the usual" as his drink of choice
for his travels are always taken with others in mind.
He is the pilgrim and his steps carry him far away,
farther than he'd thought or planned.
The courage for his journeys comes from the deeps of affection;
love is the light in the window, his pole star of orientation.
"Sit, rest my good friend.
Speak the words of the path to us we are anxious to hear."
We revel in the lush of tales, but they naturally come to an end.
He rises, dons the skins once more, shoulders his pack, and moves to the door.
A boy's grin. "The words are calling me and I must go. Namaste."
A boy's tears. "We know. Just remember the love."
His life is oblation. Always.
-for Rich on the day after his birthday - "Namaste, good pilgrim."