Tuesday, July 30, 2013
The dirt beneath him felt cool; the air stifling hot. Ted was close to the rocks, and he held a towel over his face as the burning sensation intensified. He prayed hard, and at one point wanted to panic. For some reason, the thought of the Sedona Sweat Lodge tragedy came into his thinking, and he felt the ground with one hand; the other hand firmly clasped the towel to his nose and mouth. He had balled up some sage, and placed it in the towel, so he breathed in its scent and tried to keep from over thinking his physical state through the prayers he ran in isolation through his mind. The singing was going on still, and he almost felt like putting his head down on the ground near the back of the sweatlodge, lifting the flap, and taking a deep breath of cool air. He did not.
“You will be okay. Nothing can hurt you here,” spiritual guidance told him.
Ted prayed harder, deep in the recesses of his own mind the many issues and reasons that had brought him to sweat on this day flowed forward as he heard the sound of water hit the hot rocks. He rocked back and forth, captivated, and repeated good words in his mind. Time was irrelevant, unimportant. He relaxed and didn’t feel like suffocating anymore.
Feeling a cool breeze, he stopped rocking and took the towel off his head. Opening his eyes, he saw that the flap had opened, and that he had been sitting there in prayer even after the singing had stopped, the round was over, and the cool air had been available to breathe. He didn’t know how long he was sitting in his trance, but figured it was only momentary.
Ted expected people to laugh at him, but nobody did. They were looking at him with a silent amusement, but in a good way. He laughed at himself and the other men smiled at him. He had no time to feel self-conscious, because soon the flap closed again. Round four of the sweat began.
The demons of his contemporary life burned off of his skin during the next round, and he knew this; for as he left the sweatlodge, his skin was hit with a cool breeze, and though he was still gleaming with sweat, he shivered suddenly. The tears and hardships were evaporating. He was cleansed. He prayed that his sins would be lesser before he returned to the earth again.