It’s Time to Tell a Story part X: Rationalization
Fr. Herman kissing me, took me from asleep to wide awake very quickly. The first thing i did was roll out from underneath him saying as brightly and unromantically as possible, “Good morning Fr. Herman!”
How does one process something like this?
Well, if you are fifteen and a holy man does something inappropriate, you rationalize it. This is how I coped. The guru, the living saint, my spiritual father, could not have been doing anything wrong. Even though it made me uncomfortable, it couldn’t be wrong. I immediately banished these blasphemous thoughts from my mind.
“He’s the holy one, so…this must be a European thing, waking someone up with kisses. Those Europeans are weird like that. Ya.”
He must have figured out that this prairie boy wasn’t yet ripe for the picking because the atmosphere cooled betwixt us and we jovially climbed down from the loft.
The possibility that Fr. Herman was a sexual predator who had been grooming me for whatever he was grooming me for, was unthinkable for me. If I had faced that, my whole world would have shattered. The alternative to my entire life falling down was rationalization.
He can’t be a pederast, so it must be cultural. In the back of my mind I thought of the kiss of peace popular in many traditional Orthodox settings, where two people kiss one another on the cheek thrice. The Europeans do something like this too. This must have been like a super affectionate version of that.
When placed in that position I could not do anything else. My entire world revolved around Fr. Herman. Everyone of consequence in my life before and after this had, or at least demonstrated, the same awe and veneration. I may as well have thought that Jesus Christ was a pedophile, than think such blasphemy of Fr. Herman. And so I went on with my youth and he went on preying on other young men just as he had done for at least the preceding fifteen years.
That is the narrative my subconscious constructed for me. I would not tell anyone this or even think of it myself for almost two years until Fr. Deacon Paisius DeLucia asked me a rather odd question…
Well. That’s a story for next time eh?