Things that Go BUMP in my Mind

Knitting, stitching, reading, gardening, cooking--I have no time for any of it.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

A God of second chances.

I'm part of a Bible study group that meets every Thursday morning for breakfast. Several months ago, our "usual" table began to be occupied by a rather odd but apparently harmless man. He's there almost every morning (or at least, whenever I stop in for coffee on days other than Thursday), just hanging out and talking to everyone who goes up to the counter.

As I said, he seems harmless, but his presence still unnerves me a little (and my friends have confessed to the same feeling). I think it's mostly because in our society, you just don't hang out at a coffee shop chatting with perfect strangers (and occasionally chiding them for being late, as he has done to me on a couple of Thursday mornings). But I know that my reluctance to talk to him is completely irrational--what's he gonna do to me in the middle of a crowded, brightly lit coffee shop?

As I was thinking about the coffee shop guy the other day, I remembered a homeless man who I used to see each morning during the weeks when I traveled to Richmond, VA for court. I never said more than "hello" to this man, but I always thought I should work up the courage to offer to buy him a cup of coffee or hot chocolate--it was awfully cold some of those mornings. I never did, though, and one day he wasn't there any more. I had missed, forever, an opportunity to be kind to a fellow human being who might have needed it.

Now it's several years later, and I have the coffee shop guy. I can't help but think that this is a second opportunity to practice the sort of kindness that Jesus preached. Anyone here familiar with the parable of the sheep and the goats? Matthew 25:31-46. To sum it up, Jesus says that as you treat the least of His people, so you treat him. So far with the coffee shop guy, it's just been chatting for a minute or two, but I wonder if God wants more from me than that. And I wonder if, when the moment comes, I will have the courage to answer His call.

4 Comments:

  • At 1:42 PM, Blogger mabelleamie said…

    no no no! risk far outweighs any benefit to him or to you, this world or elsewhere. he may not do anything at the coffee shop, but what's to keep him from following you? what does he really have to lose if he mistakes your kindness for something more and then does not take disappointment well. there are other, safer ways to help without exposing yourself to the whims of those who may lack your goodnaturedness. sorry, but a large part of my days involve thoughts not only of what could happen to our boys but what would happen to them, and you, if something should happen to me. there is a reason my bike spedometer does not go higher than 35 anymore. three reasons, actually.

     
  • At 12:14 AM, Blogger Cat said…

    Kirsten, I am always torn in situations like this. The more "irrational" side of me (according to DH anyway) wants to jump in with both feet and do everything I can for the man. The rational side of me knows that it's probably not a wise choice from a safety standpoint.

    If the man that is visiting the coffee shop now seems destitute, you could always purchase a gift card for him anonymously and have the cashier present it to him. If you think it's spiritual guidance he's looking for, you could discreetly leave your Church's calling card on the table one morning for him to find. Then you are doing something proactive without possibly endangering yourself.

     
  • At 3:46 PM, Blogger Not me said…

    I agree with Cathy. If he was a random stranger, I wouldn't have a problem with purchasing him a meal. I did that last week to someone who was panhandling outside my local McDonald's. I bought the mail, so that I knew what the money was going on.

    However, as this man is a regular at the coffee shop, I would probably not try to get too involved in his life. Buy him a gift card to either the coffee shop, or another eatery, if you think he needs food. Maybe a book, or something else. But, have the cashier present it to him as an anonymous gift.

    That way, if he doesn't react as you had hoped, you won't be forced to stop going to the coffee shop.

    Bless your heart!

    Hugs,

     
  • At 3:47 PM, Blogger Not me said…

    I agree with Cathy. If he was a random stranger, I wouldn't have a problem with purchasing him a meal. I did that last week to someone who was panhandling outside my local McDonald's. I bought the mail, so that I knew what the money was going on.

    However, as this man is a regular at the coffee shop, I would probably not try to get too involved in his life. Buy him a gift card to either the coffee shop, or another eatery, if you think he needs food. Maybe a book, or something else. But, have the cashier present it to him as an anonymous gift.

    That way, if he doesn't react as you had hoped, you won't be forced to stop going to the coffee shop.

    Bless your heart!

    Hugs,

     

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home