The man who carries a 25kg cross everywhere
- 3 December 2013
- From the section Magazine
Pilgrimage is still an essential part of the lives of millions, but one man is continuing the tradition with a special pilgrimage of his own.
You cannot miss Lindsay Hamon as he walks down the road.
The 61-year-old care worker carries a cross that weighs 25kg (55lb) on his shoulder.
Made out of wood and with a wheel at the bottom, Hamon has carried the cross throughout Britain and to remote parts of the world including Bangladesh, Nepal, India and Sri Lanka. Over the last 26 years he has travelled over 5,000 miles.
"It started in a small way, Land's End to Plymouth," says Hamon. "A few months later, Plymouth to London and then round Ireland… and then eventually London to Berlin, then Berlin to Moscow and Berlin to Paris and Slovakia and Hungary," says Hamon.
As a Christian, Hamon first started walking with the cross after a close friend lost his faith.
"I thought I'd walk to the city where he lived and I'd pray each day for him to come back to God. I'm not sure if he ever came back to God, but I thought as I'm walking I'll carry a cross as a form of witness.
"What was amazing was the effect it had on people as I walked into the first town. People would stop their cars and come and talk to me. People would invite me into the pub. Total strangers would say, 'Why are you doing this, what's this all about?'" says Hamon.
He says the cross acts as an icebreaker and that as a society we tend to put up too many barriers.
"We are getting more and more in our little bubbles… and the biggest problem is loneliness and people not really willing to share anything of themselves," says Hamon.
The cross he is carrying now is his third one, and is made by a friend who is a builder.
"The first one got stolen at Reading Rock festival and the second one got impounded by the Indian customs a few years ago," says Hamon.
It breaks down into three pieces and bolts together, but is still a tricky object to navigate through an airport. Customs officials in Hong Kong thought the cross was a unicycle.
Hamon says he does tend to get a lot of comments about the wheel on the bottom.
"Everybody wants to make a big thing and say, 'Jesus didn't have a wheel on his cross.' I could be a millionaire if I had a pound for every time somebody said that," says Hamon.
Travelling to remote parts of the world across isolated and difficult landscapes and terrain is physically demanding and "you pay for it with the blisters", says Hamon.
Unable to wear a rucksack because of carrying the cross on his shoulder, he has to make sure everything he needs is loaded into small bags attached to his belt.
"If you just forget one thing you can end up in a very difficult situation. I remember forgetting a torch and then finding myself walking in the total dark in Bangladesh and my foot went into a pothole.
"I thought I'd broken my ankle, but that could have become very serious, very quickly, just because I hadn't prepared well enough."
It is also important to remain mentally focused, says Hamon. "There's times when you're on your own, so you're going through Bulgaria or somewhere, and for a long period of time, really, really thirsty."
The reaction he gets in different places across the world can vary dramatically. "Most of the time it's amazingly rewarding and people are often open, but every so often you might go to a village where you just can feel the tension," says Hamon.
"Sometimes you just know that it's right to stop and talk and other times you know to just keep moving, just keep walking."
He also receives a mixture of both friendly comments and insults travelling along city streets.
"It's putting the cat among the pigeons as soon as you start walking. It's either jovial things from taxi drivers, sometimes people curse in a very vile way and other times people say, 'Well done mate, keep going.'
"There is a real reaction to just the simple scenario of a guy with a life-size cross walking down the road," says Hamon.
As a child he suffered from asthma and was frequently ill and is amazed that he feels stronger now at the age of 61 than when he was younger. He also says carrying the cross has led to more powerful encounters with people.
"It's almost like you end up being a priest or a minster, but on the street, and not behind the safe paraphernalia of the church. You're actually very vulnerable.
"You might be walking down a rough housing estate or walking through a country and you don't know whether the village is going to accept you or reject you and because you're vulnerable, you're also accessible," says Hamon.
So where next for Hamon?
He would like to visit China, Africa and South America at some point and will continue walking with the cross until he cannot do it anymore.
"In some ways my only regret is that I didn't start earlier. I would like to take it to places that people don't often go. I'd like to go to Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan," says Hamon.
All images courtesy of Lindsay Hamon