I have a ritual for when I travel by plane. I’m usually pretty relaxed as I’m waiting in the airport (I’m always 2 hours early even though I know an hour would probably suffice), and I’ll eat a snack or watch a movie on Netflix, chat with my wife or play the ABC game (My name is Alice, my wife’s name is Arlene, we live in Albany and we like to eat Almonds!). I wait patiently to board, hand the attendant my ticket, find a good seat and get comfortable. And then before we take off, before we’re asked to put our phones in airplane mode, before the attendants go over the safety procedures, I clothes my eyes and I pray. I pray to whoever is listening, whoever is out there keeping watch. I pray for a safe flight and a peaceful vacation. I pray for my family, that they stay safe while we’re apart, and I pray that we all are blessed with long and meaningful lives. I know that it might not change anything and that even with my prayer we could still crash or someone in my family could get hurt while I’m away, but I don’t feel safe on a plane if I don’t do this ritual before we take off.
Prayer helps to reduce my anxiety. It’s like, if I push my fears and my hopes out into the universe that maybe the Divine will hear it and maybe decide I’m worth saving or protecting. Or maybe if I pray for courage or wisdom or patience that by simply putting that out in the universe I will be more mindful and remember patience when I’m stressed or courage when I’m scared. Sometimes I pray for answers, like when I first started to realize my senior year that I had a crush on Kourtney and I didn’t know what to do about it. I prayed for months and was looking for a certain answer that I never got. I was certain that the answer to my prayers would be stay where you are, what you’re feeling isn’t real. But every time, the answer I got was Go! This is your chance! Do not squander my gift to you. It took me awhile to really receive that message and take it to heart. Nine years later and we’re married and getting ready to start a family. But I’m not always looking for the Divine to give me an answer to a question– most of the time I ask for peace or protection. There have been many times when I’ve been suddenly very anxious about dying, usually right before I fall asleep, and I feel the panic begin to rise within me. When I was little I used to get out of bed and knock on my parent’s bedroom door, crying about death and what ifs and my parents would tell me that when we die we go to heaven. I would be skeptical but would accept this answer because all I really needed was assurance that death wasn’t scary so I could fall asleep peacefully. I still get panicked about death as an adult but instead of calling up my parents I pray. My prayer is simple: Please god, don’t let me die scared, and don’t let me die alone.
And believe it or not, it makes me feel better.