A Sandwich He Couldn't Eat

A Sandwich He Couldn’t Eat

December 1, 2015



Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another,
but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another.
Romans 14:13

We were near the entrance of a Starbucks in Harvard Square on a warm day when we saw him on a stoop – a dreadlocked man with a shaggy goatee. People in the square bustled along the street, going about their business. College coeds rushed past the man, getting in line for their lattes. When I saw him, I pulled a ham and cheese sandwich off the top of the stack inside and handed it to him. He took the sandwich out of the bag, but instead of taking a bite, he looked under the top piece of bread to inspect the sandwich, and complained to great effect that he was allergic to mayonnaise, that no one ever thought he might have an allergy like that.

I was caught off guard. It wasn’t that I expected him to say “thank you.” It’s just that almost every person who we give a sandwich does. I looked inside the cooler and saw that we didn’t have any other kind to give him. He actually seemed more disappointed than angry when I told him, and in that moment I was struck by his food concerns, which were as personal to him as they would be to me or anyone else. He appeared picky but actually all he wanted was to avoid getting sick. 

I thought about how rare it was, on those afternoons in that busy university neighborhood, to see any passersby notice him, much less regard him as someone who might have a food allergy. Food allergies belong to people who can pick and choose what they eat, and eat as much as they please – don’t they?

Thank you, God, for all we have. We pray that when we share our abundance with those who have so little, we will see the person who receives it.

An Advent reflection by Will Crass, an Outdoor Church volunteer
and student at Dickinson College

Jed Mannis