He was standing in what a customer behind me dubbed "the most cramped Starbucks in Manhattan." His eyes were looking out of the storefront window, but his attention was elsewhere. I tried to gauge his stance - uncomfortable, nervous, uneasy... attempting to look casual, but not quite succeeding.
In the tiny space, it was impossible not to pass right next to him. As we waited to give our order to the barista, I glanced at his wardrobe and noticed his aged, navy blue sweatpants, thick sport socks, and well-worn shoes. He was out of place in the trendy coffee shop. And he was on my mind as we slowly moved forward in line.
After we gave our order, we patiently waited for our names to be called. The continual current of people, locals with their New York accents, and "outsiders" like me, all taking a quick break from their itinerary, kept moving in and out of the small area.
Some minutes later, my husband comments, "I think that man stole some sandwiches."
"What man?" I questioned.
"The one that was standing there earlier." The one we had been wondering about... speculating his circumstances.
The corner spot was, indeed, vacant except for the newer customers enhancing their drinks with various portions of sugar and cream. I quickly walked outside, searching the nearby New York streets for evidence of this hungry stranger.
But he was gone.
And I missed an opportunity.
I often hope to hear God's "still, small voice". I'd like to think I heard it that day through the consistent heart nudging... however, I didn't act.
Once again, my mind got the best of me as it bombarded me with questions:
"Should I really do something for him?"
"What if he gets offended if I hand him some food?"
"Am I judging him unjustly because of his appearance?"
"Is there really a need here?"
My overanalysis stopped my call to action. And, as is often the case, I thought of others' perceptions above my desire to help. This man had a need that I could have helped with, but because I didn't, he found other means to satisfy his hunger. Not only did I not deliver, but I was left with my own craving... one that can only be fulfilled with pouring out instead of devouring.
That day has etched a message on my heart that I will never forget. I yearn for the self-confidence and social awareness to know when I should intervene and "help my neighbor" despite the battle my mind threatens me with. I long to have courage to err on the side of graciousness and not be left wondering how my small contribution could have impacted a life. The beauty is opportunities are abundant whether it's in The City or in our hometown... and love can make its way in even the most cramped spaces.