"Satisfied ... Satisfied ... I looked at mah hands, hands looked new, looked at mah feets, they did too! Ever since that wonderful day -- mah soul's been satisfied!"
- Old Negro Spiritual.
Those phrases played over and over in my head on the weekend of my first sweat lodge experience. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that my initial reason for coming to the workshops/ sweat lodge was to get rid of blockheads and pimples. Cyndi, my good buddy, after experiencing her first sweat, dropped over some time afterwards to invite me to join her at one nearby. With skin glowing brightly and grinning like a Cheshire cat, she attempted to articulate what a great experience she'd had, but words escaped her. I knew that her skin was radiant, and I wanted to glow like that, too.
Thankfully, when I accepted her invitation, I asked God to let me have an open mind and heart. You know, there are two types of people at the pool: one type saunters back and forth, dipping their toes in, shivering and exclaiming, "it's cold!"; the other type takes a running start, leaps in ... heart, soul, mind and body.
The attendees made it easy. As I wandered around, folk would walk up to me and introduce themselves. After an hour or so, my feet began to swell as they have done for the past 23 years. In fact, I'd not seen the shape of my ankle bone in ages. M. D.'s have prescribed diuretics and elevated feet. Doing that relieved the pressure, but only for a couple of hours. God forbid that an ant, flea, or mosquito nibble my feet -- three bites would have me unable to walk for a day or two. A wonderful lady, Georgina, told me to rub yarrow and plantain on my bites, and to my relief, the swelling of the insect bites abated. Soon, the conch shell was blown and it was announced that we should prepare for the first sweat lodge. At least my pores were gonna be opened and I'd be rid of my pesky blockheads!
I limped up to the lodge area, gawking at fellow attendees folding up little cloth squares. While I sat in the Sweat Lodge, staring at those red hot rocks, wondering if maybe I'd made a mistake, Morning Star said something that my whole being leaped on: "There's powerful healing in these lodges." I prayed with my whole heart that God would heal me -- didn't even think about my feet. When I crawled out -- high as I've EVER been - my feet were normal! I could see veins, shape of bones and space between my toes. As I walked back to my tent, I was so jubilant I nearly floated.
The experience was so humbling, so powerful, that I felt compelled to learn more about this healing place, so I volunteered to be fire keeper the next day.
The enigmatic Michael Pond saw me the next day and said, "You're the one with the foot problem -- why don't you go to the barn". It didn't sound like a question, so I went. I sat on the hay bales, watching the healers when Will summoned me over. He's a chiropractor, and he "adjusted" my neck. I felt so good afterwards, that I sorta stood there, reveling in the feeling. When Michael Pond appeared and asked if there was anything else, I told him what I prayed about in the lodge. He introduced me to Nieve. What an incredible gift she has! When we got through our session, I began to feel like my old self -- the one I'd not been for a long, long while. Believe me, when I strolled out of the barn and up to the lodges, my heart and head gave those grounds the respect due to them.
All praise is due the Creator, for truly He knew what I needed, and made sure I got it. Irony of all ironies, I'd only planned to stay Friday night and leave first thing Saturday; I was in the process of moving. Thursday night preceding the workshops/sweat lodges, I got in my car to go call my folks and give my itinerary. The car wouldn't start. A friend helped me try to jump start it when I noticed a small fire under the dash. I shrugged it off, figured I'd camp out all weekend, and deal with the repairman on my return.
Boy, am I glad that I did! As I left the Stone People's Lodge Workshop on Monday afternoon, I felt at peace with my Lord, His creation, and myself. By the way, I still have those pimples and blockheads, but I wouldn't trade 'em for the world! Thanks to you for the warm smiles, hugs, encouraging words, prayers, and positivity. I pray to see you all soon.. at the next workshop!