Let’s face it, there is an element of sympathy for a soul who lives ‘on the rails’ as it were; no place to call home, feeding on others leftovers, not owning a pillow, no steady job, an unfortunate identity, a ‘nobody,’ sloppy in appearance, somewhat odorous, no phone, no address, and most sadly of all, no true family.
We like to think we do not know anybody like this, for that would be an indictment of our own lack of ‘love thy neighbor’ but sadly, we do in fact know a hobo or two.
It is easy to confuse a beggar with a hobo, for we mistakenly put them in the category of lazy souls looking for a handout, with no meaningful differences, both being an encroachment to society, but the hobo is a man not afraid to work.
He finds rest on the ‘cow crates,’ those rolling freight cars bringing him to another place, looking for a moment to belong. The search is short, and a meal is traded for a small amount of labor. The hobo does not want a handout, for he has mettle in his soul.
Remember the ‘kid’ nobody wanted on their team, remember the girl who smelled funny, remember the guy who had no friends, remember the strange lad on the bus who everyone thought was from outer space? Well, these kids grew up, and to this day they have no friends.
Their peculiarity grew stronger and they were forced to a life of separation, whose days were fixed by the seeds of neglect. These ‘nobodies’ were made so by the artificial and unfounded opinions of people who looked on ‘outward appearance’ only.
These hobos became weeds of humanity, just ‘in the way’ of others good fortune, and a mere blight on an otherwise good day. Immediate thoughts of ‘get a job,’ ‘mooch,’ or ‘beggar!’ are common when we see these souls.
Perhaps more is revealed about ourselves than we would like to admit when we run into these kind, for our hearts cannot hide from the arrow of honesty; our thoughts have spoken. But the hobo is a step up from the average beggar, for this man travels the world looking for his next adventure with another strange bedroom only to be found in the great outdoors.
What then is not to like about an adventurer? Unplanned, not knowing what, when and where a day will bring, accountable to not a soul, where friendships are rare, and judgments by others are even less. Perhaps the hobo has found a way to go through life hiding from the scrutiny of others, no more fear of being ridiculed for simply waking up.
Maybe the hobo would not exist if it were not for the indifference of the privileged. This ‘bum’ has become a master of the game of ‘hide and seek,’ for hiding is easy and seeking is a necessity. He has crafted a life of unexpected predictability where the day is arranged by a pattern of decisions that always lead down the road.
The hobo is industrious and strange in the best possible way, with manners that exceed most others. He is the lone maverick who does not engage in jealousy; he simply plays the cards he has been dealt, for whatever reasons, he must live this life.
He gets no mail, has no address, does not have a phone, has no place he really must attend, and if he has a friend, that would be the greatest of jewels. Mind you, he knows a lot of other hobos, but long difference friendships with others who also have no means of communication are difficult to maintain.
It would be easy to be jealous for a hobo, in the very best way, for a life of faith is definitely called for. The charm of what city or farmland will he see the setting sun from today, brings a small upward turn of the lips when considered.
Most will find a slur at the life of a hobo, but consider the benefit of such an aloof life. Waking up like a bird and flying as the breeze permits, following the instinctual chirp of safety, feeding, water, and touching base with others. Sharing moments of life before passing on yet again, God knows where.
The hobo is probably an intellectual who never ‘fit in,’ or should I say, was never welcomed in the norm of society by they who paved the way for his solitary life. So while the hobo knows he is considered a piece of trash by some, a ‘nobody’ by most, and thought to be fool by others, yet he knows in his heart of hearts, there is value in trash, for he reads, ‘there is much food in the tillage of the poor.’ Yes, this man is a closet scholar.
Reminds me of Another who lived life without a reputation, a nobody, a person thought to be trash-like by the honorable members of the human race. This man too was homeless, but he did not beg, he had not where to lay his head, unlike foxes who at least have holes.
He was thought to have a devil, and his piercing questions revealed knowledge that was other worldly: ‘How can David’s son be David’s Lord?’ Yes, a hobo as it were, held in disdain by most, doubted by they closest to him, and understood by none. Truly a man without a country, yet strange for he owned all, yet kept under wrap his deserved majesty.
His moral glory however could not be dismissed, for he said ‘which of you convinces me of sin?’ a question for the ages still unanswered. This man was full of character, his yes was yes, and no was no. His word was good. He was okay with being known as a miscreant; he was okay being called a religious fanatic; he was okay sitting in the back of the bus; he was okay not being picked for the team, he was okay sleeping with the animals, and being homeless, well, that was expected.
While a hobo may have impeccable character, he cannot take away your sin. This One who was friend to that devilish Judas Iscariot had every reason not to ‘friend’ him, but the exquisite nature of a good man could not be hidden.
Beggar, hobo, very little difference except in the area of character, but we must guard our hearts when we face such kin. The other man of ‘unfortunate identity,’ well, that’s another story. Yes, some thought he was a hobo, a complete nobody, and in this incorrect assessment, we learn the worth of the Son of God, and if we care to learn even further, we may glimpse into the heart of man, and not enjoy what we see.
He took upon himself ‘no reputation,’ do we get this? A man whose understanding was infinite, a man in whom dwelt ALL the fullness of the Godhead, this man walked with a reputation that was ‘nothing.’ He said nothing when Herod called him a magician, and was mute when Pilate asked Him ‘what is truth?’ Yes, just another hobo.
Yet, this ‘nobody’ took upon himself the righteous wrath of a holy God against sin, something a nobody could not do. If you see a hobo say hello, offer a kind word, a glass of water, a meal, something. Not only is it decent, but you may be entertaining an angel unaware.