Leave Room for the Holy Spirit

From my Frassati reflection yesterday:

Jesus said to Nicodemus:
“‘You must be born from above.’
The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes,
but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes;
so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
John 3:7-8
If you went to Catholic school, you might remember the painfully awkward high school dance floors that were patrolled by your elderly biology teacher who would swoop down, hawk-like, on young dancing couples and crow, “Leave room for the Holy Spirit!” implying that the hormonal teenagers were dancing too close to each other.
 
This somewhat comical phrase has a completely different meaning in my life these days.  Leaving room for the Holy Spirit is something I’ve learned a great deal about through the Frassati Fellowship. Not only have I learned from my fellow Catholics what discerning and praying before major decisions looks like, I’ve also learned a lot about how to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in the moment, whether it’s when it looks like rain on the morning of a hike or whether you’re not sure if you can squeeze that one more girl into the retreat when your friend tells you she really needs to go. These are little moments, but it’s out of such moments that virtue grows and that we are able to make the big life decisions.
 
In my opinion the hardest part about “leaving room for the Holy Spirit” is the potential for failure it seems to bring. We sometimes feel that if we don’t micromanage every aspect of every situation, then things will go wrong and it will be “our fault.” We are aggressive with others who make mistakes, worried about how it will reflect on us. Leaving room for the Holy Spirit doesn’t mean, for example, not preparing well, but in our ministries it might mean trusting someone with a task and showing them the respect of allowing them to do their best to fulfill it, even if it’s not perfect. I think of all the times a novice master or mistress in a religious order must hand over a task to the newly received, and the sort of radical trust that requires (I remember a story that our friend and former Frassatian Br. Ben told me about the first time he was asked to lead prayer in his new community–he got so nervous he forgot how to do the Sign of the Cross). 
 
God rewards us for these little moments of trust and, over time, makes it a little easier to let go of our egos, our worries, and our self-image. So find something in your life that you are clinging to with all your might, and think about how you might let the Spirit in.
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