Sexless and Satisfied? — Pt. II (6 Minute Read)

by Derek Snook

[This post is taken from a chapter-in-progress for a (possible) new book! I originally wrote it during my 2 week stay at the Taizé Community in France. You can read part 1 here!]

During the week of silence, I noticed that when I wake in the morning is when I have my worst thoughts of fear, dread, inadequacy, worry, loneliness, and despair. “You suck.” “You’re going to end up living in a van down by the river.” “What are you doing with your life?”

This particular morning I woke with worry. My father had just retired the week before. I wondered if he and my mother might need my support in some way. I showered, did some jumping jacks, sits ups and pushups, and walked to morning service without brushing my teeth.

“But not long after I received a long, lengthy email telling me to ‘grow up out of your Peter Pan lifestyle.’ I could tell from the rest of the email that the Peter Pan comparison was not a compliment.”

My mind flashed back to 2013 when, after a break up, people told me that I needed to grow up so that a woman could see herself “nesting.” That same week I got a nice apartment in a very fancy part of town, bought nice furniture, learned to cook, and started inviting women over to cook for them. These dates went remarkably well until I explained how deeply I loved living at the Star Gospel Mission and how I wanted to go back. The look on their faces told me that we were going to be friends. “You know, you can wait a little while until you share those kinds of thoughts,” my friends tell me now…I’ve also since quit wearing my Tasmanian Devil shirt that says “All Star Dad” when I cook for women. Live and learn.

Within six months I became so bored and depressed in this fancy part of town that I broke my lease and moved back to one of the Star Gospel Mission’s transitional apartments. I missed my simple life. I missed the men. I missed riding my bike to the top of the bridge late at night to look out over the city. I still made my famous Cajun potatoes for women and read them things I’d been writing, and one of the band members from Needtobreathe slept on my floor one night (claim to fame alert).

But not long after I received a long, lengthy email telling me to “grow up out of your Peter Pan lifestyle.” I could tell from the rest of the email that the Peter Pan comparison was not a compliment.

On the walk to the morning service I thought about home. I’d long dreamed of buying a plot of land in a poor area of Charleston. I do not want to be shot at. I do not want to put my family in danger. I do not want people to make fun of me. I do not want to not fit in. I do not want more long, angry, emails. “You’re a total reject,” I concluded to myself.

“I wondered if living like a Child not only keeps us young at heart, but is, in a sense, eternity.”

——— 

Then I started thinking about money. Do I have enough? How can I make more?

After the service, before breakfast, I compared my savings from June of last year to June of this.

After breakfast, we had our Bible study.

Brother Richard read the story of the Rich Young Ruler. It’s the one I’d borrowed the line “a camel through the eye of a needed” from the night before when I was making fun of “ole lock and load.” Yes, I gave him a nickname. I swallowed nearly as hard though when Brother Richard picked this text, of all texts, from the Bible. Oh God, Brother Richard has a camera in my head, I thought.

But Brother Richard began with the story before the rich young ruler, where Jesus says that we must be like children to accept the kingdom of God. 

“A child welcomes things as they come,” Brother Richard said. “They ask questions. They want to discover life. They want to be alive. They do not worry.”

After discussing the Rich Young Ruler who walked away dejected when Jesus told him, with love, to give away his possessions to the poor and follow him, Brother Richard went back to the children. “They are not interested in preserving, protecting, and maintaining what they have conquered and acquired, not like the Rich Young Ruler. They don’t know to worry about what other people think of them.”

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Brother Richard concluded, “You know, this is a sad story because it does not end well. But,” he said, “I have a secret theory. I wonder,” he said, his eyes getting misty and bright, “if the reason this story made it into the gospels is because after the rich young ruler walked away he thought about it, gave away his riches, and came back. The text says he was sad and troubled and grieved. So Jesus’ words must have impacted him. Maybe he came back and would tell this story around the campfire, ‘you know, when I first met Jesus, I wasn’t ready, but then…’”

Brother Richard went on, “This text is our invitation to see how far Jesus will go to set us free. God can undo the last bonds that keep us prisoners to ourselves, so that we can be like Children.”

At Taize, the Brothers act like children. They walk around smiling. They sing with joy and abandonment. They get these wide grins on their faces when talking about what they love. They do not have phones, and many do not wear watches. They simply listen for the bells and go to church.

Everyone else follows suit. The young adults who come, between the ages of 15 and 30, play games and sing songs before going to bed and sleeping in tents. The adults sleep in tents and dorms, too. The last night of the previous week I joined a group of 50 somethings who had “snuck out” to drink wine and eat chocolate by candlelight while laughing about adult male circumcision.

At Taize, in silence I began to reconcile with Derek as a child. I noticed that most, if not all, of my worries and struggles come from the nagging belief that I have to enter and thrive in systematic society, and that if I don’t, then I’m not worthy or adequate.

At our silent dinners, I started to imagine a feast where we throw multi-colored food at each other, like the ones Peter Pan and The Lost Boys found so much joy in. I wondered if living like a Child not only keeps us young at heart, but is, in a sense, eternity.

[This post is taken from a chapter-in-progress for a (possible) new book! I originally wrote it during my 2 week stay at the Taizé Community in France. You can read part 1 here!]

Taizé, sex, Celibacy, Community, Faith, Jesus, Love, Forgiveness, Purpose