A Catholic and a Muslim walk into a restaurant.
No, this isn’t the start of a lousy joke. It’s a real-life situation my cousin, Lucy, encountered on a business trip. Once upon a time, it might have presented a challenge. Not now.
Lucy was the Catholic in the scenario. There also was a Muslim woman. A big sales meeting had extended into the dinner hour. It was a Friday, during Lent, and Lucy hankered for a fried fish sandwich, a delicacy available in churches and other places leading up to Easter. Instead, she acceded to the wishes of others in the group and ended up at an Italian restaurant. Not a problem. Lucy had the baked scrod. The vegetarian Muslim woman ordered pasta. It was a simple, angst-free compromise.
Carrying our faith on the road and staying true to our beliefs doesn’t have to be complicated. We can remain spiritual no matter where we are. The time alone can even provide a celestial boost. As the days of hotel room nightstands stashed with Bibles and robed Hare Krishnas roaming airports fade into history, modern-day spirituality is experiencing a reboot thanks to technology and wider acceptance. (Unfortunately, bigotry and intolerance still exist. If you or someone you know has experienced religious discrimination in the workplace, this link provides some resources for getting help.)
Our journeys, physically and spiritually, can begin with a visit to an airport chapel, which typically are non-denominational and serenely quiet. All are welcome. Of course, some don’t bother looking for Jesus until awaiting takeoff (let’s face it, if ever we’re going to pray, the tarmac is a good place to start). Meanwhile, others are scribbling thoughts into the margins of their personal Bibles, or setting up altars with idols and candles right in their hotel rooms.
Some women tune in to podcasts to access the teachings of their favorite preachers, or subscribe to their church’s YouTube stations. They also tap into the power of social media (the good part of it). Facebook has a group for just about everyone, from the 30,000 or so who follow the Prayer Warriors to the approximately 480,000 who follow the Witchcraft, Paganism & Wiccan page. About 1.9 million follow Muslim Speakers’ daily teachings. That’s a whole lot of praying going on!
A more active (and fun) pursuit is absorbing the culture and architecture of a new city and combining religious study with business travel. Practitioners arrange tours or attend services at world-famous cathedrals, even if the particular brand of religion does not match their own. They also find drop-in prayer groups to connect with like-minded folks.
But in the end, technology and tour packages or not, you can pray any way you want. And if all you seek is inner peace, start with one really good, long deep breath.