In the next five or so weeks, millions of holiday travelers will depend on the airlines. How can you respond when faced with weather delays, overbooked flights, or irate fellow passengers? Through prayer, you can travel with peace and joy - a true holiday sentiment.
When I'm traveling by air, I begin my "flight preparations" by quietly praying to remember that God, the divine Mind, is in control not just of me but of everyone - of all creation. Each individual on every flight, from the captain to the squirming toddler next to me, is actually God's child, Mind's intelligent idea, responsive to His/Her guidance. God's ideas aren't crammed into rushed and pressured competition for limited seats on a route to their goodness and their home. In fact, from a spiritual perspective everyone, everywhere, is always already "home" - at home in God, never separated from good.
Patiently acknowledging God's care for all enables us to be good Samaritans; it brings greater harmony to our travel and other travelers.
One year, I saw God's power to bring peace and harmony to difficult situations. In the city where I taught university students, everyone I knew was planning to fly somewhere the week before Christmas. I'd planned to spend the break volunteering at a nursing home in another city. I was looking forward to this opportunity to share holiday cheer with others.
But when I reached the airport, it was almost deserted! I discovered that when a volcano had erupted a few days earlier, it had spewed a large cloud of ash into the jet stream. The airlines, fearful of the effects of ash on jet engines, had canceled their flights that morning.
I went home very disappointed, but began to pray as best I could. I earnestly wanted good for everyone who'd been stranded, as well as for those I hoped to serve in the other city.
But as one day passed, and then another, I found myself being angry at what I felt was indifference on the part of airline staff whenever I phoned. Even after another airline had found a way to fly safely, mine was grounded. And my volunteer plans seemed grounded!
Late one night, I again reached out in prayer to God, asking with all my heart what I needed to know to feel at peace. I was moved by this line in the Lord's Prayer: "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:10). And I recalled reading this interpretation of that line: "Enable us to know, - as in heaven, so on earth, - God is omnipotent, supreme" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Pg. 17).
In the quiet of that, my simple prayer, I saw I needed to really accept the spiritual fact that the divine Mind governed the whole situation in our area and in the skies above it, regardless of any evidence to the contrary. I continued to pray to acknowledge God's control of the entire universe, right down to the folks in my city and at the airlines.
Soon I felt the power of God, divine Love, cleansing my thought with joy and peace. I felt calm, and sure that God was providing whatever was needed for each one of His/Her children.
It dawned on me that the qualities one expresses in volunteer work are universal, not limited to a specific place; if travel wasn't feasible, I could express love and holiday cheer right where I was - perhaps by inviting some of the remaining students and faculty to my home. Neither could my students or others miss out on "home." I remembered there'd been much "family" support at the airport: each standby traveler who'd found a seat on a flight had been applauded with cheers and genuine rejoicing on the part of the crowds camped out there.
When, on an intuition, I went back to the airport the next day, a representative from my airline announced that a flight would leave in a few hours. Turning to me, he said, "You are first on the standby list." As delighted as I was, I continued to acknowledge that God's goodness is universal, providing for all people; no one could be excluded. And at my destination, I learned that the airlines had begun running more flights from our city. Although there were still intermittent delays, everyone would be able to travel.
Having seen God's care expressed in my travels, I brought a special joy to my volunteer work that year.