by Marianne Williamson: I HAD ONCE FLOWN on an airplane that lost an engine over the Pacific Ocean, and from that experience I developed a fear of takeoffs. Healing America: An Interview with Marianne Williamson (1997)It made no rational sense given that the engine on the plane hadn’t quit upon takeoff, but my fear was what it was. Once a plane made its way above the clouds, I was fine. But until then, I was terrified.

I prayed for help, and then one day as I waited for takeoff, I found myself sitting next to a little boy who looked to be about eight or nine years old. He was sitting in his seat very straight and still, and I noticed that he seemed to be fighting back tears.

I looked at him and asked gently, “Are you alone, honey?” He nodded, his bottom lip trembling.

“Are you scared?” I asked. Again, he nodded.

“Would you like me to hold your hand?” I whispered into his ear.

Again, he nodded.

At that point I went into full Mommy mode, gently explaining takeoffs to him as though I were reading him a nighttime story. “The pilot is turning on the engines now . . . that was the noise we just heard. . . . Now he’s increasing the speed while we move down the runway . . . and at the right moment, when the pilot knows it is absolutely safe, the flaps on the wings will move—see them moving out there?—and that will create a lift and take the airplane into the sky! See? Isn’t that beautiful? . . . The pilot is a really nice man, and he is totally in charge and knows exactly what to do to get the airplane into the sky and keep us all safe!”

Phew. He seemed relieved—and believe me, so was I.

One might have thought I was an angel sent to comfort that little boy, but clearly he was an angel sent to comfort me. My fear of takeoffs ended that day. My pattern of anxiety was completely interrupted. In the midst of my fear, I reached out in love; then my fear was gone.

The miracle had manifested as a result of connecting compassionately with another person, extending if even for a moment beyond our own painful dramas to be of service to someone else.

Reaching out to other people carries divine power, whether recognized as such or not. Divine power isn’t metaphorical but literal, actually releasing calming chemicals in your brain. Study after study proves this. And Spirit does more than calm you; it heals you. It reverses entrenched patterns. It is nothing short of miraculous.

In truth, you are in spiritual connection with people whether you turn away from them or not, because relationships occur on the level of the mind. The mystical truth is that everyone lives within you, for you were created as one with all living things. You cannot forget others and still remember who you are.