The tribe did not gather often. In the best of times, it was not the most powerful in the land. Now, in lean times, the tribe was scattered in order to find sustenance. Each elder, warrior, or farmer had to find shelter where he or she could. One elder put out the call to honor another elder. Each disparate branch of the tribe was asked to bring their most powerful magic to lay at the feet of this man. The elder to be honored was not a great leader or warrior or farmer. He was not a treaty-maker or wizard. This man's gift was the gift of listening. He listened to the cares of the young warrior who felt that his struggles had never been known before. He listened to the cry of the farmer who remembered fatter days. He listened to the rough voice of the weary traveler who had come home after learning that "all is all." Would anyone come to honor this elder? Would the gift of listening prove worthy of commemoration? Would the scattered members honor the feeling of validation they received when this elder took the time to hear their concerns? Yes. The tribe came and celebrated with food and drink and fire and song. They brought their fiercest spells and tenderest songs and wildest dances and loveliest stories. The elder listened and blessed their gifts, allowing his tears to flow only when the spirit of his departed father appeared. After the feast, the tribe scattered again. No one knew whether they would again gather. No one knew what might cause them to forget their immediate wants for an evening in order to pay tribute to an elder who did nothing but listen. But they all departed knowing that their stories were less than dust without a listener. They knew that the most precious gift anyone ever gave them was to listen. They knew that, for a while anyway, they would honor The Listener wherever he or she appeared. ----- Eric Jackson, thank you for thirty years of listening. Fred Taylor gathered the tribe to honor you and no one could hope for such a feast as the one he gave. The tribe is in your debt, and our gifts tonight are only a token offer for the value you have tendered us.