Prayer and Sweat

Of course, besides recharging throughout the day and practicing “city Zen,” those more intense and concentrated times of refreshment are also vital. I went to a “prayer lodge” meeting on Saturday, led by a Native American shaman, Rev. Lakotahasie Frazier.

Hasie, as she is known to her friends, has adapted the traditional sweat lodge ceremony slightly for Westerners, and so that men and women can participate together. That said, its substance is still the same: prayer and sweat. It strikes me, that we’re creatures of prayer and sweat, spirit and matter.

Catholic spirituality is built upon the principle of sacramentality, the awareness that God is within, and working through the material of the world. The idea behind the sweat lodge is to return the favor to God–to give substance to our prayers, to bind them up with tobacco in bundles, to breathe them in through a pipe, to sweat our prayers as a purification and offering to God.

I think something that makes contemporary city life so sick is the lack of earthiness and loss of contact with nature. During the course of a day, how many things do we see, really see that are not man-made? What is God-made is largely obscured by buildings, walls, floors and doors. But much more is obscured by our concepts and perceptions.

I don’t often see my co-workers as gods and goddesses, images of the One. Something about the lodge helps me see a bit more clearly when I return to work.