A common metaphor of the holy spirit in Christianity is the Holy Spirit is like the wind. This metaphor may be rooted in the Biblical tradition of the arrival of the Holy Spirit among the disciples that came among them like a rush of wind. Or perhaps when Jesus says that like the wind, we do not know where the Spirit comes from or where it goes.
Not long ago I was reintroduced to an older metaphor (I believe from Origen) who said that the spiritual life is that like a journey on the ocean. We are each the captain of our boats and the Holy Spirit of God is the wind in our sails. As the sailor of the boat we can do a lot of work to get the sails just right, but if the wind is not blowing, we are not moving very far. Conversely, if we do not do our part to put up the sails the wind will blow right past us. And we will not get very far.
The spiritual life is that of co-worker. God, through the Holy Spirit is the wind in our sails, but we must open our sails to accept the wind and try to work with the wind as it blows. The wind blows on everyone, but not everyone is prepared to catch the wind.
This has helped me consider why it is that sometimes I feel like I am working as hard as I can on my faith formation, only to not move very far. The winds are not blowing.
And so, the spiritual life is not a meritocracy (the one that works the hardest gets the greater rewards). The spiritual life is a life of preparation, being ready and hoping that you catch the wind in our sails.
Simply put, the spiritual life is one of work and wait.