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GUEST COLUMNIST | Spirit-led and flying high

Spring is festival season in southern Louisiana — the weather is warm but not hot, the crawfish are plentiful and there’s always an excuse to gather and celebrate. Recently, we trekked out to Baton Rouge to check out this year’s “KiteFest,” where I unexpectedly learned that kite-flying can teach us about the dance of the Holy Spirit in our lives of faith.

I’ve never had much success getting a kite to fly. As a kid I’d watch fancy box kites with long streamers rise into the sky with practically no effort and believed my kite was the problem. Of course, the problem wasn’t the kite, but me. I’d run, but never really thought about which direction I should be running in.

Many of us Catholics take a similar approach to our spiritual lives. We fill our calendars and stay busy, but never fully consider whether we’re running with the wind or against it — whether we will soar or plod. Every one of us is made to soar, but that takes open space and enough discernment to cooperate with the wind.

A kite doesn’t catch the wind; the wind catches the kite. When the air is stormy or still, kites don’t fly, no matter how much you run. But when there’s enough wind, and you have perceived it rightly, you can ride the sky.

When it comes to discipleship, our willingness to align our own will to the will of God determines how high we fly — and at the heights, we find stability. We don’t control the wind; like the Holy Spirit, it “blows where it chooses” (John 3:8). And there is only one way to guarantee that we will have all the wind we need: We must spend time in the cenacle, the Upper Room of prayer, where the rushing wind is to be found.

Over the centuries, disciples of Christ have taken up the challenge of living for God. But many of us still make the same mistake along the way, embracing God’s purposes but then trying to live them out on our own power. We never quite figure out that there’s a difference between being purpose-driven and Spirit-led, between racing to catch the wind or letting ourselves be caught.

Pentecost teaches us that the Christian life cannot be lived apart from the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

While flying kites, we are bound to encounter obstructions that hinder us, such as trees, buildings or changes in wind. This is true in living our faith, as well. Past disappointments, hurts, fears, anxieties and missed chances for mercy can keep us stuck on the ground. That’s especially painful when we see others flying high, and we know that there’s enough sky for all of us.

The first thing most of us need to ask the Holy Spirit for is healing. That grace comes in many forms, but it usually requires us to take up the full weight of our own sins and missed marks, while letting go of the faults and mistakes of others that tie us down. Healing often takes longer than we wish it would. But the good news is that most of us can begin to fly — at least a little — even before the process is complete.

We are not orphans. The Holy Spirit lives in us and guides each Christian’s journey upward and outward, but only when Pentecost becomes personal. When we allow its wind to catch us and draw us, soaring, far away from the crowded and unstable lines of doubt, resentment and clung-to hurts, we are lifted up toward heaven.

Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a sinner, Catholic convert, freelance writer and editor, musician, speaker, pet-aholic, wife and mom of eight grown children, loving life in New Orleans.

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GUEST COLUMNIST Spiritled and flying high 8714

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