It was Christmas day, not the one he'd planned,
As he shook out his boots in the desert sand.
The Rider looked on the Sonoran sky,
The question bore again into his heart. Why?
It was going to keep burning a hole in his mind,
Why couldn't he be with those he left behind?
Why would the good Lord let this be his plight,
Leave him with the burden to take up the fight?
He filled his canteen from the trickling stream
Alone with the memory of a broken dream.
He saddled up in the gray dawn light.
Tied the roll that served as a bed each night.
Swung to the saddle, no spurs to the steed,
The tap of the boot, was all he would need.
Just the gentlest touch of leather,
For they'd seen many a day together.
They'd covered the miles, now not far to go.
One more mountain to the valley below.
He'd rode the Sonoran with a mission at hand,
And this was the day he'd make his strong stand.
Knew the odds were against him, as they had been before,
Though he had little choice but to settle the score.
Men had robbed him of gains from a life of hard toil,
Now he'd show them the shortcut from this mortal coil.
Surprise on his side, they thought him not alive.
And justice would burst from his Colt 45.
He rode to the west, at a smooth, steady pace,
The resolve could be seen in the look on his face.
The three had taken what he treasured, and more,
And left him to die on the dry desert floor.
But somehow he survived, now it was his intent,
That he wouldn't offer them chance to repent.
Knew where they'd gone and he followed the trail,
By the end of the day they'd all reside in hell.
He was not of a mind to cut them some slack,
Ignoring the danger, there was no turning back.
The road was divided as he looked up the draw,
Shading his eyes, a new rider he saw.
Was it just a mirage, were his eyes truly sore?
The man sat a Mustang he'd not seen before.
"He may be a lookout." he thought. "I will bet.
Or is he just cowboy that I never met?"
Yet he sat in the light of a single sunbeam,
As though it were destined for him to be seen.
"My mission will not let me be too polite,
But the town I am seeking could be left or right".
He pulled up to the stranger and bade him, "Good day!
Bound for Madera, if you'll point me the way."
"It is but a short ride," the stranger said with a smile.
"But perhaps you would like to rest here a while."
"I am not in a hurry, but shouldn't delay.
For I cannot let anyone get in my way.
I have come to this place in search of some men",
Said the Rider, "I'd not welcome any interruptin."
"But I am in your road, with a reason to stay,
I'm to hinder the quest you're in search of today."
You seek out a vengeance, to right a great wrong,
For those who have stolen, from whom it belonged.
And you cannot continue, for the justice you fight,
There is only one who can make the wrong right."
"You don't know who it is that you're looking to save,
But I've just come from havin one foot in the grave".
Said the Rider, "Now kindly get out of my way,
Or they'll be diggin one more grave today."
Then the Rider turned sideways and slipped the cowhide,
And the Colt 45 was now loose at his side.
Said, "I'm not sure how you discovered my fight,
But I'm not going to stop till I have them in sight."
"I've been sent by the one who has been here before,
And you must turn around, you know not what's in store.
You're alive, you have much to rejoice in and so,
I beg you return to your loved ones..please go."
The Colt leapt from the holster, like a demon possessed,
In one breath it was leveled at the stranger's chest.
"I ain't ridin this far to some stranger abide",
Said the Rider, "I suggest you just move to one side."
"I cannot," said the stranger, "For I too, have a quest,
Now holster your gun. Please put it to rest."
For the vengeance you seek belongs to another.
You are not judge and jury to punish your brother".
He held up a bible, "Within the good book.
It has always been written, if only you look.
It's your life we are saving, That's why I've been sent.
So retrace your journey, your death to prevent."
Smiled the Rider, "There's something you've failed to see.
This Colt in my hand's aimed at you, not at me."
The stranger replied, "You should already know,
Today's the day of our Lord's birth, long ago.
On Christmas the angels brought forth the great joy,
'On this day we've a Savior, a divine baby boy'.
It's in his name I beg you return to your home,
For 'Vengeance is Mine,' said the Lord.' Mine alone'".
The Rider then looked into the stranger's face,
And he felt a great calmness come over this place.
He remembered the days which had turned into years,
Long before they had stolen the things he held dear.
And his mind filled with memories, of laughter and joy,
An innocent time he'd known as boy.
The revolver returned to the holster and then,
He smiled at the stranger, felt that calmness within.
No longer he cared if the robbers should die.
It meant little, this day, "an eye for an eye".
He knew he'd been spared in this journey so far,
By a night long ago, illumined by a star.
He headed for home as he turned the great steed,
To relinquish the quest of a vengeful wrong deed.
He thought he was right, but now knew he'd been wrong,
Then he turned to say thanks, but the stranger was gone.
The desert stood empty. He knew it would be,
For another's mission had just set him free.
Now he looked forward to the long journey home,
He no longer felt that he rode all alone.
A more wonderful feeling he could never recall,
For the gift he'd received was most precious of all.
He had traveled much farther than ever he sought.
And the present for him that the stranger had brought.
Was no longer a question but sent from above,
And, as before, long ago, was forgiveness and love.