People like to say that they have insider knowledge on a wide range of subjects. Experts in computers often turn out to have never opened the box. Specialized car mechanics have only been behind the wheel. And some who tell about their experience with saunas may or may not know anything about the words coming out of their mouths. In each circumstance the proverb is easily proved. “The first speech in a court case is always convincing – until the cross-examination starts!” (Proverbs 18.18) Just bring on the messed up computer, car that will not run, or serious sauna experience and the truth becomes clear.
Yesterday was one of those moments. A good friend talked about his experience with all types of saunas. In my enthusiasm to share the Russian Baths of New York I forgot to probe and challenge his story. As with many things everything became clear with experience.
The warning flags came out shortly after we were settling into the dull-lit stone room. The temperate was just below normal, in this case around 198 degrees. The eyes searched for the exit and the frequency in dumping cold water over the head quickly became a three minutes cycle. The real challenge came when it came time for a platza.
Platza always sounds good; a specialist using one or two clumps of red-oak leaves that have been soaking in warm water with a special soap scrubs, massages, and thrashes your body. The minor bit of news is that this occurs on the third and hottest level of the Russian sauna.
As the experienced ended in the blast of cold water, I saw someone forever changed slowly walk over and sit down in a daze.
“How was it?”
“What just happened? I don’t know how to say it in words.”
God offers gifts of grace. Grace is an easy word to say. What does it mean? The only answer the stands up is experience. It all starts with a yes to God; you will discover he has a response waiting for you with your name on it.