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JAMES BEHRENS: After weary road trip, monk happy to come home to monastery

The rain started falling early in the morning and continued all through the day. It was a downpour for a good part of the day. There were occasional moments of respite, when the rain eased up.

I drove through it all. I was driving through North Carolina, and then South Carolina, on my way back here to the monastery. I was alone in the car and had a lot of time to think, think about driving through the rain. I found myself wishing that the weather had been better. I am getting older and driving through heavy rains wears me down real fast.

Big 18-wheelers rolled by, throwing up cascades of water all over my car. I had to watch out for slower cars ahead of me, in my lane. It was hard to see them up ahead. My mind wandered as I drove, and I was wishing for other things. I suppose that maybe falling rain makes one look for other horizons.

I thought back to the past, wondering how my life would have turned out had I married and raised a family. I suppose that is not a strange wonder for a lot of priests. What would I have done for a living and would marriage have made me -- for better or worse -- a different person?

I have long loved music. What if I had pursued that? How far would it have taken me? I once tried my hand at writing words and music but never got too far with that. Nothing I wrote seemed all that good.

I have moved a lot in my life. Some moves were of my own choosing, while others were not and on those occasions I moved begrudgingly.

What if I had stayed in one place? I was recently with friends of mine from grammar school who still live in the same area where we grew up. I envied them, sinking such deep roots, having such long memories of familiar places and people. But things did not turn out that way for me.

The rain kept coming. I kept driving. And thinking.

I don't know. Maybe we all look for the sun to dispel the clouds and make the rain go away. All my fanciful thinking did not move as much as a droplet of rain.

Maybe the trick is to learn how to love the rain, to drive through it, and to know that sunnier days will come in their own time and way.

I do not want to spend my time wishing about things that may have been different. There is no changing the past -- it was all riding within me as I drove. I looked at those living parts of me. Many memories of people and events I met in the parishes where I served. So many good wishes, farewells, and welcomes. When I was down, I always got help. And I did my best to be of help to others.

I thought about how good it has all been -- rain or shine.

But for the moment, it was raining and raining. I drove and drove through it, my heart getting lighter as the miles passed.

As I drove through the monastery gates, I felt a deep sense of home, of where I belong. It is a place of memories, a place where memories tell you what they know. Especially in the rain.

Father James Stephen (Jeff) Behrens, O.C.S.O., serves at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, 2625 Ga. Highway 212 S.W., Conyers. His email address is james@trappist.net.