Coming Out Scene ~ A Hole in God's Pocket

This one's a bit unusual. Main character Greg Aubuchon, formerly a Trappist novice known as Benjamin, comes out to the abbot just before he leaves Bellarmine Abbey.

* * *

     Dom Frederic—or Freddie, as he was affectionately called—looked like an aging Navy Seal, broad and bald and bodacious. Brother Benjamin wasn’t entirely sure what “bodacious” meant, but it seemed to fit the abbot.
As Freddie had suggested, they were meeting outside instead of in his office to preclude interruptions. The weather was mild for February, and the paths that wound through the abbey’s grounds were largely clear. The surrounding land, however, was not. Brother Benjamin, wearing the heavy white habit of the novice, imagined he looked like an animated snowman who’d risen from the drifts that blanketed gardens, fields, and meadows.
Ruddy-faced, Dom Frederic crested a low rise and strode toward him. He smiled as he stopped in front of Benjamin. They clasped hands for a moment.
“So,” the abbot said, “Tim tells me you’ve got an itch you can’t scratch, and it’s interfering with… I suppose with nearly every one of your waking and sleeping moments.”
“It isn’t that bad,” Benjamin said, his face reddening from more than the cold.
Still smiling, but in a contrite and sympathetic way, the abbot laid a hand on the novice’s upper arm. “Forgive me, Ben. I didn’t mean to make light of your difficulties.”
Dom Freddie never minced words. He’d been a construction supervisor before entering the order—a devoutly Italian-Catholic construction supervisor, granted, but he’d never fully abandoned his frank, blue-collar New Jersey way of expressing himself. A lot of monks, regardless of their spiritual refinement, didn’t always speak like high-toned Christians.
The two men commenced a leisurely stroll, their hands tucked into their sleeves.
“Was Tim overstating?” the abbot asked.
“A little. It’s not as if I’m being wracked by some obsession.” Brother Timothy was Bellarmine Abbey’s Novice Master. He was the first monk Brother Benjamin had gone to with his problem, a step that was appropriate if not easy. “I’ve just been, you know, struggling with the realization that I’m a certain way, and it isn’t going to change.” Benjamin had never spoken the word and couldn’t do so now.
Dom Frederic had no such qualms. “Being gay, you mean.” He glanced at the novice. “Ben, you’re certainly not the first homosexual man to walk through the gates of Bellarmine, and you certainly won’t be the last.” He chuckled lightly. “I’m sure if the lay public were polled, a good portion of respondents would express the belief we’re all gay.”
Finally, Brother Benjamin was able to smile.
And on they walked and on they talked, their breath producing thin, evanescent clouds in the weak winter sunlight. Benjamin confided it wasn’t the vow of celibacy he had a problem with; hell, he’d been celibate all his life. Rather, it was the straying of his mind, and his body’s maddening tendency to tag along. The religious were supposed to fight and overcome the carnal aspects of their natures. Benjamin had tried repeatedly and failed.
He didn’t have to use terms like graphic, irrepressible fantasies or unbidden arousal or even masturbation. Dom Frederic was a sharp, insightful man with plenty of experience both in the world and in the cloister. He knew the score. Straight guys struggled with similarly “unchaste” thoughts and urges. At one time, Frederic probably had struggled himself.
“Most recently, though,” Benjamin said, “I’ve had this growing conviction that I’ve been trying to take some shortcut I’m not meant to take.”
“By being here, you mean.”
Nodding gravely, the abbot thought a moment. “Fidelity to vocation,” he said, “is only one of many routes to intimacy with God. There are always roadblocks, of course, no matter what one’s belief system. Some people get over them with relative ease, some with great effort, some not at all.” He turned his head to face Benjamin. “I’ve no doubt you’ve devoted a good deal of thought and prayer to your dilemma.”
“At least a year’s worth.”
“And your conclusion is that you have no choice but to leave us.”
Benjamin nodded. “It isn’t a capricious decision. I’ve come to love it here. It’s home to me.”
“Well then. It appears your roadblocks along this path are insurmountable.”
“I believe so, yes.”
They walked in silence for a while. The abbot’s bright, clear gaze roamed over the white, drear landscape. “Nature is such a ball of contradictions, isn’t it? Clarifying and distracting. Pure beauty and pure terror. It lifts us up, it weighs us down. God’s glory, but not always ours.”
“True,” Benjamin whispered. He knew what the abbot was saying. You’re not a freak. You’re not an evildoer. You’re just another creature at the mercy of this ball of contradictions called Nature. All you can do is strive to find the lovely, clarifying, uplifting, glorious aspects of it. Those are the paving stones on the path you’re seeking.
“I hope you find the route that suits you, Ben. I’ll pray for you.”
“Thank you.” So this is it.
They turned back toward the abbey. Brother Benjamin would likely never join the ranks of the solemnly professed. He looked fondly at the sturdy stone walls of Bellarmine, the bell tower, the crosses on the roofs that made such bold incisions in the sky. He thought of the forty-three monks within, how they truly felt like family to him.
Before the week was out, he’d once again be Greg Aubuchon, an ordinary gay man of twenty-four who’d have to find his way in a world that wouldn’t exactly welcome him with open arms. Maybe he’d return here someday—if, that is, he could control his errant thoughts and overcome his baser nature. Or maybe he’d find one of the other routes Dom Frederic had mentioned.
Right now, he didn’t feel optimistic. Those alternate pathways, whatever they might be, were uncharted territory for him. And they seemed as elusive as a fast-track to the Andromeda galaxy.

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