Ask the Clergy: Vacations with a Religious Component

For some believers, time off from work and other daily responsibilities does not mean time off from spirituality. This week’s clergy discuss the journeys which included visits to holy sites, meditation at sea and a reminder that wherever one goes, God is everywhere.

Isma H. ​​Chaudhry

Board Co-Chair, Islamic Center of Long Island, Westbury

A few years ago, our family decided to leave for Umrah, a non-compulsory pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina. It was an unconventional vacation for us, as our favorite places have usually been popular tourist destinations, like the Caribbean.

It was the first vacation where we as a family engaged in in-depth discussions about faith and religion. We visited museums rich in Islamic history and Abrahamic culture. We performed the ritual of know to commemorate the sacrifices of Hagar, the mother of the prophet Ishmael, and visit the holy sites that have inspired the faithful for centuries. We discussed the inspirations of various rituals, prayed together as a family, sat together in humility and awe, immersed in deep spirituality, gazing at the Kaaba shrine inside the Masjid al-Haram mosque in Makkah , the holiest site in Islam.

We discussed women’s rights, justice and equity in Islam as revealed in the Holy Scriptures, the Quran and guided by the teachings of Prophet Muhammad. We walked the streets in the footsteps of the great prophets of the Abrahamic tradition.

We also shopped, dined out, and hiked the rocky trails. It was the first vacation, however, where despite doing everything together, our young children didn’t find us intrusive and annoying.

Rabbi Jack Dermer

Temple Beth Torah, Westbury

My wife and I recently had the good fortune to take a trip to Ireland. After spending so much time in Israel, we were happy for a change of pace. Although the land known for whiskey and bagpipes is quite different from the land of milk and honey, we are grateful for the wonderful friends we have met along the way and for the opportunity to experience the Sabbath, not in the synagogue as we usually do, but amidst the green hills and bleating sheep of Ireland’s rural west.

One of God’s promises to the patriarch Jacob in the Bible is the assurance: “I will be with you wherever you go. (Genesis 28:15) Jewish tradition tells us that God can be sought, not only in the highest heavens, but in the depths of the human heart, wherever we find ourselves.

When we hear the words “spiritual vacation” we may imagine a yoga or meditation retreat, but the truth is that wherever we remain open to experiencing the grandeur of God’s creation – in nature, in fascinating foreign cities to another person — we can make our travels spiritually rewarding.

I pray that wherever you find yourself this summer and whatever form your journey takes, you will seek opportunities for growth in appreciation, relaxation and discovery.

Huntington’s Bob Yugi Festa

zen practitioner

Buddhism is dedicated to ending dukkha (suffering or dissatisfaction) in his life. The Buddha taught that the way to achieve this is to practice the Eightfold Path to Enlightenment, so Buddhist practice is a spiritual formula for how one lives one’s life. It permeates our every thought and action.

In other words, there’s no way you can take a vacation that doesn’t have a religious component because you’re living your faith 24/7.

I had a perfect example of this a few years ago on my first cruise. On the first day at sea, I decided it was a good time to sit in meditation using an incense stick. I sat for five minutes and there was a knock on the door. It was a crew member telling me that I couldn’t smoke in the cabin. Apparently, fires on ships are frowned upon, so there is a monitoring device in each cabin to detect smoke.

There were many cruises to follow, but I learned that I could avoid the pain of being embarrassed by a crew member knocking on my door if I meditated without incense.

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