Safety in the air
A Christian Science perspective: A former airline pilot shares his spiritual insights on safety.
As a student of Christian Science, I’ve been grateful to learn that safety isn’t merely freedom from danger or injury. It’s a quality of God, Principle, that expresses His unerring government of each one of us and the universe. During my career I had to read a lot of training manuals to learn the characteristics of the particular aircraft I was flying. Just as important to me were two other guidebooks: the Bible and “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science. Reading the weekly Christian Science Bible Lessons provided numerous examples of God’s protecting care and power, which helped me do my job.
I learned that no matter what the task was, all worthwhile abilities and skills have their origin in God and are governed and controlled by divine Mind. The need was to see that I didn’t have a personal mind that was vulnerable to mistakes, apathy, or an inflated ego. I was God’s man, reflecting all the qualities I needed on the flight deck – such as precision, alertness, and adaptability. These were not fluctuating personal possessions but spiritually derived from Principle. This gave me a solid foundation, strengthened by Mrs. Eddy’s assurance that “the divine Mind governs, and that in Science man reflects God’s government” (Science and Health, p. 393).
That sounds fine, you might say, but as a passenger, what about that nagging apprehension about flying that may try to assert itself? Over the years, I’ve learned that whether it’s concern about pilots, air-traffic controllers, the weather, mechanical problems, or any number of unpredictables, the need is always to prayerfully affirm in thought Principle’s unerring control. This self-enforcing spiritual law, which activates and embraces men, women, and children with unvarying consistency, knows no lapses and keeps us all safe.
Chance is not a factor. God’s law nullifies it. When I taxi onto the runway for takeoff and push up the throttles, I don’t think to myself, “I sure hope the law of aerodynamics is working today so this thing will lift off the ground.” I trust that the design of the aircraft conforms to aerodynamic principles each time I fly – the “fly safe” demonstration of this law works for pilots and passengers alike, so off we go to 35,000 feet. The Christ, God’s active presence and healing power in human consciousness, is infinitely present to dispel fear for our safety no matter where we are.
I recall one instance when I was taxiing out for takeoff with a full load of passengers; a flight attendant called on the interphone and said, “The cabin is full of smoke!” This could quite easily have been a situation in which an evacuation of the aircraft on the taxiway using the escape slides would have been required.
Immediately, I began to pray, acknowledging Mind’s unerring control. I reasoned that divine Principle includes all cause, effect, and law. That’s how God works, and the Christ reveals it. As Eddy put it, “Christ presents the indestructible man, whom Spirit creates, constitutes, and governs” (Science and Health, p. 316).
Within seconds I remembered that prior to our flight the aircraft had had a hydraulic leak that was repaired in an area near the air-conditioning packs. I turned off both A/C packs and the smoke immediately dissipated. It turned out that the smoke was vaporized hydraulic fluid that was being drawn from a small puddle that hadn’t been completely mopped up after the repair. We returned to the gate safely, the puddle was cleaned up, and we were on our way.
For me, that experience confirmed that worry or fear assumes the absence of God’s law. Even as a digital photographer, I can relate to the saying that fear is the darkroom where negatives are developed. Christian Science enables us to live what we understand of God fearlessly. Principle is firm and constant, but not cold or abstract. Principle is Love. Its tenderness and availability always bless and protect. It enforces good. It stays with us, whether we’re a passenger or pilot. As the Psalmist writes, “Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit? to be out of your sight? If I climb to the sky, you’re there! If I go underground, you’re there! If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, you’d find me in a minute – you’re already there waiting!” (Psalms 139:7-10, “The Message”).
From the Christian Science Sentinel.