Everyday Holy Spirit
I spent my childhood years waiting for a statue to float, or some magical vision like those the saints experienced, or to witness with my own eyes a miraculous healing. Maybe a dove would exude light in plain sight and this would be my encounter with the Holy Spirit that changes everything. Childhood came and went without the spectacular miracle. Then my teen years began.
Youth Ministry was just cranking up in Lafayette and I must have been in the right place at the right time. On second thought, my parents laid a faith foundation that led me to some amazing ministers who changed the course of my life. They captured my attention with their energy, humility, and adventure that I never before associated with Jesus. They referred to the Holy Spirit often. I figured they had one of those crazy visions or witnessed one of those miraculous healings to have such fire and energy for our Lord. However, that wasn’t the case for most of them.
My desire to encounter the Holy Spirit began to change as I was formed in scripture and led into a personal relationship with Jesus. Catholicism took on a whole new meaning and the Sacraments transformed from a catechetical lesson to an invitation into intimate love. It was in this context of intimate love where I started to look for something different. 1 John 4:7-8 took my life by storm: ‘God is Love.’ If this were true, then everything changes…..everything.
The Holy Spirit became alive. I began to experience the Holy Spirit in every authentic place that love breathed. I stopped looking for the Holy Spirit in the floating statue and found it in the active, sacrificial love of my parents. Our relationship changed. I stopped waiting for the magical vision and instead experienced the Holy Spirit in the overwhelming intensity of love that poured itself out in my tears as I stood over the casket of my best friend. I never thought to look for the Holy Spirit in suffering until the wake of my best friend. I found the Holy Spirit on mission amidst the poverty of the Navajo Indians who, despite what they did not have, welcomed us with joy and faith. The Holy Spirit was even in poverty.
Ironically, it was not until I surrendered the need to see the miracles that the eyes of my heart were opened and I saw miracles all around me. Big ones and small ones. In everyday love I had moments that moved me to tears: simple reunions of friends, forgiveness of enemies, the sight of a mother holding her new born, or the elderly husband and wife holding hands.
As a teacher, coach and campus minister I never really understood the impact we can have on the young people. One day I received a note on my desk from a young lady who shared how she was able to find value in her life by my joyful morning approach of, “Hello, have a great day.” What I was unaware of at that moment was she planning to take her own life that night. The Holy Spirit moved within me and my “Hello” communicated enough for her to believe she’s worth another day. This was the power of love. This was the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit continuously leaves me in awe.
Today, I continue to surrender. I pray often “Come Holy Spirit”. I pray for the courage to love authentically and to love sacrificially, in hopes that by doing so I might serve humbly as a conduit of the Holy Spirit. For me, love is very real. Therefore, God is very real. God is only as distant as my willingness to be loved by love itself. God is so active when pure authentic love presents itself, the active love from God is the Holy Spirit. Every time we encounter the active pure love of God in the Holy Spirit we approach heaven and the radiant joy.