Wednesday, September 20, 2006

St. Nicholas

I got an e-mail from Nick this morning and it got me thinking. He was telling me how lucky he was to have met me. And although I am highly honored, I think I was the lucky one.

I told you how I first met Nick a few posts back. But that was just the start of it. Actually, the first time I met Nick, it was kind of anti-climactic. He had preached a sermon that caused a bit of a hubbub in the congregation. I remember two members out in the parking lot almost ready to duke it out. Well, by the time the fireworks were done in the parking lot, I was just about to leave with another member of the congregation to go have lunch.

A little while later, I called Nick to ask if there was some time we could talk. I needed a theological perspective on all that was happening. I couldn’t talk to the senior pastor at the church where I was called, that would entail coming out to him. I talked with my therapist, but he is Jewish. Now don’t get me wrong, my therapist is a truly wonderful man, it is just that we have a few different perspectives on theology. I had a person who on-line that I talked to, but he was not here in person. I just wanted someone, in person, that I could talk to.

I met with Nick and we talked. Part of what was driving me nuts was the whole “page 13” thing with he ELCA. What this says, in short, is it is ok to be gay, just don’t do anything about it. So I was struggling with how to learn about being a gay man while being celibate.

There was also the problem of staying in the ELCA. I didn’t want to go through life celibate, if I wanted to do that, I would have stayed Roman Catholic. But if I wanted to have a sexual relationship, I couldn’t stay in the ELCA. I know that there are others who do; I just didn’t want to have to worry about being “caught.”

Well, we got together, we talked, we had burgers, and I drove home. Well, to say I drove home would be a misnomer; I flew home. While we were sitting there, Nick looked at me, touched me on the side of the face, and said, “You are so intelligent and attractive.” Now, a guy has never said that to me before. I was, like I said, flying.

We started to get together on my days off to do things. We would go to movies, museums, etc… We would discuss what it means to be gay and what it means to be pastors, and what it means to be gay pastors.

One day, after seeing a movie, I think it was Capote, we returned to the church so I could get my car and drive home. Well, this was something that I had been thinking about so I decided to ask. I explained to Nick that I had never kissed a guy before and I asked him if I could kiss him. (And it was true; I had never kissed a guy before.) I felt safe with him and wanted to get over one of those “gay hurdles.”

The kiss was wonderful! And being emboldened, I told Nick that I had never touched a man before, either. And before he had a chance to give me permission, I reached down and felt his crotch. (THROUGH HIS PANTS!! I was still trying to be a good boy.) He felt wonderful! But he pushed me back before things went farther.

After this, Nick said that he could be my friend, but as far as being a pastoral presence for me, he would have to pass that on to another. I appreciate his integrity.

On the idea of integrity, Nick was always a gentleman. He never did anything without me first giving my permission. He never forced me to go anywhere I didn’t want to go. He always waited until I was ready. So when we finally did get together, it was when I was ready.

What was so wonderful was that he would wait for me. He did not say, forget it Ben, you are just wasting my time. He did not just get his needs taken care of and then head out when I took longer. He was kind, patient and loving.

And Nick continued to be patient. When I would be paranoid of being out at a restaurant or something, he would not be offended nor would he get impatient. He would deal with me having breakdowns wishing I were dead instead of gay. He was patient as I told more and more people.

Nick was most patient when I had my talk with my senior pastor. I was on the phone for hours with Nick. He would talk to me and helped me to get perspective on what was happening.

I know, it sounds like I am talking about St. Nick. (With my love of Christmas, that wouldn’t be so bad!) But I wonder where I would be if I never met Nick. He is so patient and helpful. He is definitely a gift from God.

I hope all of you have found a “Nick” in your life. I hope you found someone to help you past the roadblocks that are just a reality of life..

I love you Nick!


Lemuel said...

hold on to that Nick guy! He sounds like a true treasure!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful beautiful stuff. It made me all melty inside. Thanks for sharing. [Wanders off to find something to dab my eyes with]