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 | By Alexandra Soltis from Lumen Christi High School

Working in the Seconds

A second of silence. Call it a pause, a breath, a stagger-step, a halt, a quarter rest, call it whatever you want, but before you do anything there’s a second of silence. You get that one second to think: Why am I doing this? Can I do this? Is this crazy? Should I be smiling? It’s in this forgotten second where I see the Holy Spirit working in my life.

What more is a photograph than a captured second of silence? Each picture represents a second in time that will be remembered forever thanks to the lens of a camera. For me, looking at photographs is like looking at captured moments of the Holy Spirit at work.

When I look at the picture of my old middle school basketball team, I remember. I remember not knowing how to play basketball at all, but still going out for the team. I remember my wonderful coach, the first and only coach I ever had who assigned “homework” which involved us finding things we were grateful for and writing them down. I remember the life lessons our coach taught us by telling stories at the end of long practices, with all us girls sitting on the court, listening.

I remember in the heat of a game, receiving the ball on the left side of the paint, whipping around an opponent and driving straight down the right lane to do a right-handed lay-up, the ball gliding into the basket, and my coach leaping up and shouting “NOW, THAT’S BASKETBALL!” But most of all I remember the Holy Spirit being there with me, on the team, and especially with my coach.

When I look at the photograph of me sitting for my senior cross-country portrait, I laugh. I laugh because it was probably the worst possible day to take pictures, it was drizzling rain, cold, and we were outside at a park. I laugh, remembering my entire team huddling under the rotunda, trying to remain photogenic as the middle schoolers slowly took their pictures. I laugh because I love that team. A team that was as crazy as it was together, lovable as it was hilarious. I laugh remembering our workouts: sprinting 400s as it was absolutely downpouring, jogging long runs in huge groups so we could have each other for company, and chasing each other up hills to avoid being tagged in the most intense game of Capture the Flag ever played. I laugh remembering the absurd dance we invented specifically for cross country, picking up cones after a workout by balancing them on our heads, and celebrating together after a hard run with slushies. I laugh because I know that with a team that emitted that much love and that much joy into the world, that the Holy Spirit was with us every step we took and every mile we ran.

When I see the picture of me in my marching band uniform, I smile. I smile because if you look closely enough at the picture you can see I’m wearing the wrong shirt under my band uniform. I had forgotten it was picture day and was wearing a long red sleeve shirt which poked out at the ends of my sharp, crisp, dark green marching uniform. I smile, remembering learning how to first match: being yelled at to form 90° angles with my knees and to always point my toes down. I smile, recalling my first look at Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride freshman year and thinking that it was impossible, compared to now, as a senior, being able to play it from memory. I smile, thinking of our band conductor’s words “Breathe together, play together,” and the group taking a collective breath before the song begins. I smile, remembering the final fermata that extends until our director’s hands drop and his smile raises, grinning from ear to ear, as he whispers compliments and bows to the audience. I smile because the sound of a bunch of kids all from different backgrounds and levels of experience coming together to produce a unified, beautiful work of art is surely evidence of the Holy Spirit being there too.

I see the Holy Spirit working with me and around me in different people, places, and things. Instead of the Holy Spirit being with me in one person, place, or thing, I see the Holy Spirit as being with me in seconds. To me, the Holy Spirit isn’t contained in one place, He is present to me in each brief pause or sudden break that happens to me in my day. He is present to me in the pictures of family, friends, and special moments, and He helps me cherish every memory each photograph contains. The Holy Spirit is with me right after the whistle blows, on every step of my journey, right after the final note ends and right before the applause begins. The Holy Spirit is there with me, working, in every single second of silence.

The 2022 Father Charles Irvin memorial Essay Contest Winner

Every year, FAITH awards a $1,000 scholarship to a high school senior, based on an essay on a topic related to life in the Church. Our goal is to promote insightful thought and excellent writing, and to encourage careers in Catholic journalism. There are many ways to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ, and good writing is one of them. We hope you enjoy this year’s essay by Alexandra Soltis from Lumen Christi High School.

To me, the Holy Spirit isn’t contained in one place, He is present to me in each brief pause or sudden break that happens to me in my day.”