Thursday, March 20, 2014

Day 14 of Lent, Thursday, March 20, 2014

There's been a lot of talk in the news about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.  The disappearance of such a large plane reads like something out of science fiction (Lost, anyone?).  It seems kind of surreal.

But it feels very real to the families of the passengers and crew.  I think the not-knowing would be the hardest thing.

I imagine that they will eventually find the plane in the sea.  At this point at least, the family members can have some closure.

Some have been postulating foul play while others believe that it is more likely equipment malfunction.  Whatever the case, I think that it is easy to imagine yourself aboard the plane as a passenger.

Anyone who has ever experienced rough turbulence on a flight before has recaptured their prayer life.
I would much rather see the televisions pop
down than the air masks while flying.

The unnerving thing about it is the feeling of helplessness. You know that you are in the pilot's hands and this feels very out-of-control.

There is a strong fear of flying or Aviophobia which affects a number of people.  They either can't fly at all or experience panic attacks when they do.

We've all read the statistics about how it is safer to fly than to drive but the irrationality comes into play when we (or someone we can shout at) are behind the wheel.  We feel more "in control".

As a believer in free will, I am confident of my ability to make my own choices.  But I also believe that there are many things that are beyond my control.  I can project all the possible stimuli available and yet I will still have some randomness in my life that I couldn't predict.  Then I will react to it.

As Lent rolls on, we may find that what we wrestle with in this life is control and the anxiety that comes when we face a lack of it.

The Serenity Prayer was written by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr and we often see it used at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

The original prayer is a little longer than we may be familiar with:

  God, give me grace to accept with serenity
  the things that cannot be changed,
  Courage to change the things
  which should be changed,
  and the Wisdom to distinguish
  the one from the other.
  Living one day at a time,
  Enjoying one moment at a time,
  Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
  Taking, as Jesus did,
  This sinful world as it is,
  Not as I would have it,
  Trusting that You will make all things right,
  If I surrender to Your will,
  So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
  And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

It may be that those of us facing a lack of control need this prayer to be a more prominent part of our lives.  I feel for those families who are praying for their loved ones on that flight.

They may need this prayer as well as any of us.

Photo by Gleb Osokin - Russian AviaPhoto Team [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL 1.2 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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