Sunday, April 08, 2007

Yesterday Jaimie, Luke, Matt, and I enjoyed a “sweaty” but marvelous afternoon and evening with a few friends up at Jaimie’s house in the woods. (See photos, above.) Earlier, Jaimie and little Noah (almost 4 years old) had constructed the frame of a “sweat lodge”, and, when Matt and I arrived around 4:00, we helped them tie the last few poles on and get the bonfire going. We set stones among the kindling and logs and then lit the paper and stood back and watched the flames flare up. Luke and two old friends, Bill and Tim, arrived around 6:00, and there was good conversation as we watched the fire settle down on the reddening rocks. We took a break for some delicious chili, after which some of the guys carried the almost molten stones on a pitchfork into the pit inside the sweat lodge. We then stripped down and filed into the lodge, crawling in a circle around the pit of stones until we were all seated. Jaimie then sprinkled water on the stones to start the steam rising. Before long, the little lodge in the dark woods was filled with the hottest steam I’ve ever felt, and the sweat was streaming from my face and chest. We sat mostly in silence for nearly an hour, occasionally tossing water on the stones and saying a few words or breaking into songs and chants. I especially enjoyed the silence. It was wonderful to be with good friends in such a hushed and contemplative atmosphere. After about an hour, we filed back out into the frosty darkness, sprayed ourselves with water from the hose, got dressed, and stood for a long time around the glowing coals of the fire. Every so often a plane would pass over high up above the trees, and occasionally I looked up at the shining stars as we quietly talked.

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