For keeping those plane passengers safe, thanks be to…?



When I heard the news about the US Airways flight that crashed into the Hudson River yesterday, I was amazed to learn that every single person had made it out safely. Wow.

I watched the reporting for a bit, then went to sit outside on my porch.

I looked up at the crisp blue sky and offered up a big thank you. A thank you to…well…I’m not sure, really.

I just kept looking up, giving thanks for the safe and swift rescue of everyone on board, and for the calm, cool heads and bravery of the pilot, the flight attendants, the passengers and their rescuers. Apparently, no one panicked, and everyone did just what you’re supposed to do “in the unlikely event of a water landing.”

And then, after a few minutes, I began to ponder what I might have done, had I been one of those passengers.

Let me note here that I am an extremely nervous flyer and was raised a Catholic, but pretty much abandoned that faith in college.

Which means there have been moments, like during turbulent flights through thunderstorms over Texas, when I’ve been so terrified that I bowed my head and clasped my hands (or those of the bewildered passenger next to me) to chant numerous “Hail, Mary”s or “Our Father”s.

Force of habit, I suppose. Yet I always felt slightly hypocritical afterward. I didn’t pray to or find solace in God when I wasn’t fearing for my life, after all. Did I really believe, in that moment, in a Higher Power? Or was it just a reflex, a reaction conditioned by years of Sunday morning masses and CCD classes?

And what would I do now? Now that I’m working the AA program, which has me contemplating my spirituality and faith and the idea of a “higher power” on a regular basis? To whom would I turn? How would I pray?

You see, as I conclude my third month of sobriety (I got my 90-day chip today!), I’m also working the Third Step of Alcoholics Anonymous with my sponsor, L.

I have finished Steps One and Two, during which I admitted I was powerless over alcohol and that my life had become unmanageable, and came to believe that a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity.

Now, I am preparing to make a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand him.

During the past 89 days, as I’ve attended AA meetings and met with my sponsor and heard many, many mentions of God or a Higher Power, I’ve been mulling it all over in my head a great deal.

One of the things I love about Alcoholics Anonymous is the tolerance and acceptance of its members. I’ve read and heard criticisms of the program that maintain that it’s primarily a Christian organization, with an exclusionary undertone to its philosophy and literature. I don’t find that to be the case at all. I’ve never experienced anyone condemning or proselytizing in any way, at any time, at any AA-related event.

For this, I’m thankful. I’m also thankful that AA is helping me grow into a more spiritual person, and that I have the freedom to discover and define (and redefine, if need be) my own Higher Power. If I choose, my HP can be God, or Allah, or Mother Nature, or the Universe, or the AA Program, or The Force from Star Wars. It can even be, as it was for my sponsor’s father, a little stuffed animal he christened “H.P.”

The name or form of my own HP doesn’t matter. What matters is that I have faith and follow the steps. Besides, at this point, I couldn’t really define my Higher Power for you in so many words. I just know it’s out there, and it seems to be working.

And if I had been on that plane yesterday? Who knows. That old Catholic reflex might have kicked in, prompting me to recite — white-knuckled —  endless repetitions of “Our Father” and “Hail Mary.” Or maybe I would have chanted The Serenity Prayer. Or (as I’ve been known to do in the past) maybe I would have sung old Barbra Streisand songs.  I’m not sure.

But of this I am sure: after all was said and done, and I was safe and sound, I would be offering up one ginormous thank you to my HP. And then, all shaky and wobbly and weak, I’d pray again for help…to keep me from taking a drink.


3 Responses to “For keeping those plane passengers safe, thanks be to…?”

  1. Congratulations on your 90 days!

    For me, I hope I would ask for the ability to accept “God’s will.” For me, God’s will is that random, purely physical, chance events happen to all human beings.

    And I agree. I love the inclusiveness of AA. I feel sorry for those who can’t see it that way.

  2. Many names for the “higher power” refer to the same thing. It’s personal perspective. In my pursuit of the Catholic faith, I call it God.

  3. 3 slumblogmillionaire

    this is a very good blog. I love the picure selections..

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