I have a tendency to find God at 35,000 feet.

It's not that my beliefs are opportunistic: I am spiritual, I attend church occasionally, I dig the Pope, I'm even about to be a Godmother.

But I can't say that I'm diligent in my nightly prayers, and I'm a little lax when it comes to the weekly Sacrament of Penance.

However, I have occasionally found myself on an airplane, in turbulent skies, becoming super Catholic.

"Hey there God," I say in my smallest internal voice, "I know in the grand scheme of things my little life is not all that important. You have wars and disease and famine to consider. But, I was thinking I might give blood next week, and volunteer at the homeless shelter, you know I've been meaning to do that... so if this plane were to crash, well I just think it would be a shame."

Liz Marsh
Liz Marsh

I'm a pretty good flyer. I love to travel, so I just consider flying to be an inconvenience, the dues one has to pay in order to experience this great, big, beautiful world. But after a lifetime of flying with my aviophobic mother and sister, I'm skittish.

I prefer to fly alone. I can talk myself out of my airplane anxiety, but it's much harder to do with one of them next to me, clutching the armrests in terror.

Recently, I found myself sitting in the same row with my sister, brother-in-law, and baby niece. Shortly after takeoff, the pilot's voice came over the speakers: "Folks, we're getting reports of severe turbulence up ahead. Flight control is telling us there's no way around it. Things are about to get bad. On a scale from one to ten... Well, it's just going to be really bad."


My sister closed her eyes and started her yoga breathing. I could feel that she was just one big jolt away from a full-on panic attack. So, as the baby and I looked out the window at the wing bouncing up and down, I said another little prayer.

The turbulence didn't stop, but we did land safely, and a deal's a deal. I'll be donating blood this week. And if anyone knows of a homeless shelter that needs some help, let me know.

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