A friend and I were planning to fly a single-engine plane to survey some highway construction on an Interstate not far from where I live. I enjoy aerial photography, and was hoping to get some good shots of how the construction was progressing.
It's my custom to take out a kind of flight insurance before any trip - a kind that you don't have to suffer a catastrophe to collect. What I mean is, I always pray before a flight.
Even though people have only been flying for about 100 years, the Bible has many helpful verses relating to flight. It talks about God coming on the wings of the wind and as having sheltering wings. My favorite, though, is "If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me" (Ps. 139:9, 10). "The wings of the morning" speaks to me of renewal and promise, of sufficient strength to do what needs doing, of alertness and freshness of outlook, of sparkling intelligence. Those are all qualities I'd want to find in any pilot, flight attendant, mechanic, or air traffic controller.
When I fly, I pray to express these qualities myself. Then to see them as given by God to the people responsible for the flight. If, for example, the staff seems distracted and overworked, I pray for peace and harmony. I know that since God is Love and is always present, it is possible to feel Love's gentle touch and tender mercy everywhere. Wanting to feel divine Love with us can do much to bring calm and order to a chaotic situation.
I also think of patience. One of the great pressures people in aviation feel is "get-home-itis." This attitude of passengers or staff can lead to bad decisions. Patience is not, however, passivity. Patience can and should be active. When you're delayed, patience can help you use the time to pray for complete harmony in a flight or anywhere else.
"Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way.... Wait patiently for divine Love to move upon the waters of mortal mind, and form the perfect concept. Patience must 'have her perfect work' " (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 454).
"Mortal mind" is a description for the level of thought where we view existence as merely material. It is a view that's ignorant of God's love for each of us.
Yet, people laboring under this limited view can be uplifted and inspired through our individual prayers. And who knows what the result may be? A tired air traffic controller may become more alert. A mechanic distracted by troubles at home may suddenly remember how important his or her job is to people's safety. A pilot may spot something that needs correction.
Engaging in such prayer, we are servants of God, of ultimate Truth, helping to bring natural, divine harmony to light. Prayer to express God's qualities gives a spiritual dimension to what we do, including travel. Instead of feeling battered and weary, as sometimes happens on long flights, we can actually walk from the plane feeling renewed and refreshed.
Sometimes you can see clearly how such prayer has a positive effect on a flight, as I found out that morning we planned to fly over the highway.
Normally, my friend and I wear headsets when we fly together, but on this particular day my headset didn't work. As we were taxiing toward the spot where we would take off, I continued to pray, affirming God's control over the flight. Then I heard an intermittent clacking sound that wasn't like anything I'd heard before.
When the sound continued, I mentioned it to my friend, who hadn't heard it because she was wearing her headset. After listening to the sound, she decided to return to the place where we'd rented the airplane. And when the mechanics examined it, they agreed that something was wrong. Within a short time, however, the plane was fixed, and we could go ahead with our plans.
Before we left, I tried my headset again. This time I adjusted it differently and it worked perfectly. And so did the rest of the plane. We had a great flight!
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(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society