If you went to church on Ash Wednesday you probably had the sign of the cross drawn on your forehead with the ash of last years Palm Crosses.
Is your Ash Wednesday ash cross still visible today, or has it disappeared? What if instead of ashes, the sign of the cross was made on your forehead with a special dye that lasted the whole of Lent?
Unusual insiders view for Lent
If you haven’t yet found a devotional course to help you get the best out of Lent, then it isn’t too late. You might have missed the thought for Ash Wednesday, but reading this might count instead – especially if follow up with the course it’s taken from.
‘A Lenten Hobo Honeymoon’ is one of the most unusual, concise and visually memorable Lent devotionals. Still available in time for the first full week of Lent, it’s a course that really is for those who get more from the journey than the destination.
Pilgrims homeward bound
To spend Lent as a honeymoon seems a contradiction, but the key is in the word 'Hobo'. Originally American slang for a migrant worker, Hobo is made from the first letters of the words homeward and bound. Originally referring to Civil War veterans working their way home, the word might also refer to agricultural casual workers, 'Hoe-boys'.
Today as then, Hobos being migrants on the move have ‘no place to lay their heads’, opening up a direct comparison with the central traveller on the Lenten road that leads to the cross and with all Christians on the restless journey of faith.
Toward the one who loves the best
'A Lenten Hobo Honeymoon' is a journey of love: travelling with no settled home but always moving on and closer toward the one who loves the best. Hobos are not ‘bums’, vagrants, scroungers or tramps: they are pilgrims working their passage home.
The surprising feature of this Lent course is that Hobos are not only travellers and workers, they’re also communicators and artists. Each day’s short reading begins with a hand-drawn Hobo Symbol like the one on the gate post in the cover illustration.
Secret symbols of the journey home
These drawings are Hobo icons to communicate what kind of welcome a town, home or individual offers to the Hobo in need. Chalked pictures indicate fierce dogs, handouts, good camps and kindly women. The symbols are like a secret code written and understood only by travellers – not residents.
Like Hobo symbols, says writer Edward Hays, the mark of Ash Wednesday is the symbol of the traveller not the resident. It’s a tribal badge that marks the Christian out from the world. If you want another Lent symbol to go with the ashes of Ash Wednesday, Edward Hays even tells you how to make and wear sackcloth!
Lent course for the Easter journey
So there’s your Ash Wednesday reflection - a little late, but if you type ‘Lenten Hobo’ into the search bar on any Eden.co.uk page you can order ‘A Lenten Hobo Honeymoon’ and qualify for free delivery, or you can choose the express option to get the most out of your Lenten journey home.
Edward Hays: Author snapshot
Born in Lincoln Nebraska, Edward Kay was himself a Hobo from an early age. Running away to join a Benedictine Abbey, he was ordained in 1958 and began an itinerant ministry to the travelling homeless. After a Hobo journey through the Near East, Edward Kay returned to direct the contemplative prayer community, 'Shantivanam', in the forests of Easton, Kansas. He still keeps his packed Hobo bag under his bed, restless to on the move again.
Quick Guide to A Lenten Hobo Honeymoon - Edward Kay
What is it?
- Personal Lent course based on the signs that mark out Christians as travellers.
- Lent reflections on the spiritual parallels in the secret symbols of American Hobos.
- Meditations exploring the Christian journey with unique insight and illustrations.
What will it give me?
- Very different view on Lent with an insiders view of the Hobo world of travel.
- 40 days of renewal with the one ‘who had no where to lay his head’.
- Reminders that Christians are simply pilgrims homeward bound.
Over to You
At Eden.co.uk you can find a truly interactive Christian community helping you find all you need to live, learn and grow your faith.
Edward Kay describes the ashen cross that begins the journey of Lent as a Christian pilgrim's temporary tribal marking.
- What difference would it make to the way you lived the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday if you had a cross clearly visible on your forehead?
Tell us. Post your ideas, views and tips – beautiful, bizarre and brilliant at Eden.co.uk
February 24th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Les Ellison