The sauna was large, open, and hot. Its name was appropriate, Helsinki. Centered on one wall was the heater and rocks. There was ample room for ten or more individuals to spread out. For me, given that there were only two of us, it was perfect.
After sitting in the heat for ten minutes, the stranger stood up and asked if it was ok to add water to the rocks. With my nod, he began to spread the water out across the stones. The dipping and layering action was effortless. Even the steam rising off the rocks seemed to understand that this newcomer understood what a sauna should be. It seemed as if every motion and response was sacred.
As I closed my eyes, I could hear voices from the past inviting to build a bridge to this newcomer. “You veterans know the One who started it all; and you newcomers—such vitality and strength! God’s word is so steady in you. Your fellowship with God enables you to gain a victory over the Evil One.” (1 John 2.14)
The silence faded into minutes; we were both lost in our meditations. I sensed the door opening before I heard the sound.
The motion was a blur. A barrel of a man power-walked his way in, heading straight for the bucket of water. With a singular motion, he twirled and dumped most of the bucket on the hot colds.
It was hard to prepare for the tsunami of heat I knew was coming. This was so unnecessary! What happened to manners? What happened to any awareness of others?
His encounter lasted less than one minute. Before sixty seconds had passed, he stood up and headed for the door. As quick as he had come, he had gone. He did not return. Only his actions remained.
There is a time and place for everything in life. There are traditions that transcend whatever an individual might think. One man introduced me to a model I hope I always follow. Another reminded me how it should not be done.