I must admit I have been out hoboing around most of this week while I am working out what may come next for me, if anything. Hoboing around, means me out meandering this small town, looking in dumpsters, trash cans, and ashbins for whatever I might find.
At any rate my heart has been generating some joyful feelings, like I remember having as a kid. I noticed every time they appear I tend to start feeling guilty for some reason; probably my Catholic upbringing, but like all things false they too will pass.
I was touched this evening out at the homeless day center here in town. The Church of Christ feeds out here on Thursday nights. I showed up with just a couple of snipes (other peoples half smoked cigarettes) in my pocket and without me even asking, three different friends handed me some cigarettes, almost a full pack’s worth.
I have mostly felt sorry for myself in this life, like I was alone here, without any real friends. God is slowly getting me to change my mind.
After the food the church passes out a Bible passage and we discuss it for a half an hour or so. This week’s passage was Christ feeding the 5000. The line that interested me the most, “Christ had compassion for them.”
I asked what everyone thought that meant. One man said it meant, “To suffer with,” which I though was perfect. Keep in mind at the start of the story Jesus was trying to escape the crowds and get some rest for himself and his apostles. The moral of the story, in my mind, is that God’s compassion for his people is untiring, he so wants to ease our suffering.
Many in our society seem not even willing to look at suffering, let alone participate in it. Homeless people, veterans, the mentally ill, the severely disfigured, even the elderly go unlooked at, unheard, and untouched. That last one may be the most painful, healthy human touch is the most valuable pain killer we have.
Yet the people who do sacrifice their own pursuits to suffer with others, Christ, Mother Theresa, Saint Francis, seem to be the most joyous among us. Ironic isn’t it.
I am by no means judging those who turn their back on suffering, that was me for many years. I would say that they are unwilling to admit they suffer themselves, using power and money to disguise how alone they feel.
One thing I have noticed, now that I am willing to suffer with others on occasion, is how much it softens the heart and what kind feelings it produces and the honest friendships that emerge from it.
Are you lonely and in need of someone to share your suffering? Hobo John here, I love you with everything that I have: that is my heart-song and the truth of things.