Last night as I was heading into the grocery store, I passed by a Hinz & Kunzt (the local 'street magazine' that covers homelessness and other social issues and which is sold by those without a permanent residence) salesman. I didn't yet have the December edition, so I made a mental note to save the correct change to buy one on the way out.
As I passed by the store's bakery, the Brötchen looked too good to pass by, and so I decided that I would, for once, offer the salesman some food instead of just buying the magazine.
By the time I left the store, however, the salesman had left his post to smoke and chat with a friend/acquaintance.
And that was all it took to lose my nerve.
After buying my magazine, I lost the courage to offer him a snack. Simply because there were now two potentially homeless men instead of one.
And the question is why?
Why is it for me even a question of courage or boldness to offer someone something that he did not ask for but might appreciate? Why is it a question of shyness rather than cost that prevents me from making this offering to others I pass on the street?
It's not the fear that something would happen to me but rather the fear that if I were to get a glimpse of her worries or burdens, I might walk away leaving us both the worse because I can't do anything go help. The fear that, because it's not within the setting of a soup kitchen or something similar but rather on 'their turf', the offering to share a bite to eat or a bit of conversation would be unwelcome, would be seen as intrusive. The fear that I'll be rejected.
Do good intentions need an invitation?