Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Prayers on Wheels

My commute to work is long but easy. For over an hour, I sit on a comfortable bus with about fifty other people, all of whom are sleeping, reading newspapers or books, or playing with various MP3 players, iPods, iPhones and BlackBerries.

On one of my first days commuting, I observed a man across the aisle whom I recognized as a Sikh by his distinctive turban. He was reading from a small, ornately designed book with script that looked beautiful, but was unintelligible to me. It was easy to tell, though, that he was praying. I thought that looked like a good idea. I had a prayerbook in my briefcase, too, just about the size of his. I took it out and said my morning prayers. I imagine that the script in my prayerbook was just as unintelligible to him as his was to me.

I've been riding that bus for three months now, and I don't pray every morning (my Sikh neighbor does) but this morning, I did take out my prayerbook. When we got to the park-and-ride where the bus fills up, a woman sat in the seat beside me. After a few minutes, she took a small book out of her briefcase and started reading. The words in her little book were also in a script that I could not comprehend. We prayed silently beside one another for a while, then she put her little book away and took out a novel, and I put my little book away and took out my iPod. I've never sat beside her before, so I don't know if she prays regularly, or if she had been inspired by my prayerbook as I had been inspired by the Sikh one. This is a kind of interfaith prayer that I could really get to like.


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful tribute to peace.
Thank you -- and the members of your mobile congregation -- for modeling harmony.

Tom Walker said...

Beautiful little epiphany, Leslie. I'm going to print it out for Linda. I know she'll love it too.

Marnie said...

Perhaps your prayer time will catch on with others and before you know it, most everyone on the bus will have their prayer book - what a great thing to create - a bus of prayers.

Pierre Sogol said...

I read this off of remember several times I have davened in an airport and at a NJ rest stop, and where I happened to find a quiet spot to face East, the space was "taken" by a Muslim (airport), and a group of Muslims (rest stop). There is actually a short play I've seen where a catholic girl pops into a shul and takes the mehitzeh for the screen in a confessional and noting the figure davening on the other side, proceeds to pour her heart out to him..