Rev. Charles Hoffacker
In 1960, Geoffrey Brindley left his job as a machinist to live in a cave in the Yorkshire Dales where, he claimed, he received a message from God. As a result, he dressed in a brown robe and sandals and walked the streets of the northern English city of Bradford come wind, rain, snow, or shine. He spread good cheer with a wave and a smile for everyone he saw. He did this for more than five decades. Most people knew him simply as the “Jesus Man” of Bradford.
Geoffrey made friends all over the city and regularly stopped at homes where his hosts served him a cooked dinner. People recalled stories of his cradling them as babies and singing to them. Later, they would bring their own babies to him.
Such was the affection for the Jesus Man that 23,000 people signed a petition in 2012 asking that he become an Olympic torchbearer. He modestly declined the honor.
When an interviewer asked him why he lived as he did, Brindley replied, “I just like walking.” And whenever it rained, he added, “I get wet.”
Brindley died in 2015 at the age of 88. The news was met with collective sadness. People paid tribute to a “gentle spiritual man.” He was buried from Bradford Cathedral.
There are countless ways to live a holy life, but to be known as the Jesus Man over many years, however it happens, must be a sign of grace.
The Rev. Charles Hoffacker is a retired priest of the Diocese of Washington