Using Steps 1, 2, and 3 to Take Flight

by Rev. Barbara Williams


As I boarded an American Airlines flight at LaGuardia airport, I realized I had not been on an airplane since a few days after 9/11 (September 20, 2001). Now, my niece in Miami was getting married, and I was invited to be included in the wedding. There was no way I would not be there for my niece, so this New Yorker had to fly.

The nervousness did not actually set in until–while we were still on ground– the pilot placed the aircraft in reverse. When I saw that we were moving backward, I began to feel nervous.

The plane taxied around then sat. Then taxied some more and sat again. This went on for about 40 minutes.

I sat at the closed window. When I booked my ticket, I thought it would be nice to look out during the flight. Ha!

Finally, the engine roared then slowed down. The engine revved up again like a car in a slow lane finally able to go forward. It was take off time.

As the plane began its ascent, I recited The 23rd Psalm. I needed to feel connected to something greater and more solid. I needed a stronger Energy to tap into.

Although I was poised on the outside, I was nervous and afraid. I then gravitated to the 12 Steps. I began to recite them by heart. In the rooms, I recite the steps by rote memory, yet on the plane, I literally internalized the steps, especially the first three. I also engaged in mindfulness by concentrating on the first three Principles of the 12 Steps.

I was in a powerless position, at the mercy of pilots, electronic dashboards, and the mechanics who serviced the aircraft. My situation literally felt unmanageable as evidenced by the intense anxiety I was experiencing.

I came to believe that a Power greater than myself had guided the mechanics’ hands as they were servicing the plane. I placed faith and trust in the competence of those workers. I realize this may sound crazy, but I meditated and visualized being at one with the equipment, engine, and dashboard. I began to envision and feel Divine Energy actually holding the plane.

I made a decision to maintain my connection and I did just that. Throughout the journey, I acknowledged and maintained my connection to the One Power.

As I began to relax, I noticed the gentleman next to me in the middle seat. He was watching a video of priests engaged in a ritual.

There was nothing elaborate about the ritual. It was rather modest, yet their focus seemed to be on connecting with God.

The priests were holding long golden objects directly in front of themselves. They wore white robes with a sash around their waists. Each priest seemed to be reading something.

Afterward, each one knelt and made the sign of the cross. My neighbor watched that video on his laptop for the duration of our flight. In hindsight, it was exactly what I needed to see, too.

Growing up, I was exposed to various Christian spiritual practices, including Episcopalian, Methodist, and Catholic. Through my maternal grandmother, I experienced the teachings of Rev. Ike, as she listened to him on a regular basis. In 1985, I entered a treatment facility and was introduced to the 12 Steps. While continuing to be actively involved in a 12-Step program, I found a New Thought center.

As I sat on the plane that day, I became aware of what a blessing it was to have incorporated all I had learned and practiced over the years. And I kept coming back to the steps, placing emphasis on the first three: I can’t. God can. I will allow it.

After about an hour at 36,000 feet in the air, there was some turbulence. I calmly continued on with my program of creative visualization. The plane landed safely in Miami.

My niece’s wedding was spectacular. I would not have missed it for the world.

In times of stress, people cope with situations in the ways that work for them. I gravitated toward what works for me. I thank myself for not forgetting my roots.



To contact Rev. Barbara, email her at or visit her site at



Using Steps 1, 2, and 3 to Take Flight

2 thoughts on “Using Steps 1, 2, and 3 to Take Flight

  • November 3, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    Great way to handle stressful situations!!

    • November 3, 2016 at 8:05 pm

      I agree Jon – practicing spiritual principles in all of our affairs – on land, or in the sky. Thank you Rev Barbara for a great reminder.


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