As we’ve said before, the banya is a revered, cultural function and the ladies of the church are always eager for me to take part. Recently they invited me, so, once again I said, “thank you, I’d love to!” Privately screwing up my courage and squashing down my inhibitions I joined the other 7 ladies for an evening of fellowship.
On the surface of the situation I learned some new tricks to improve my health and prolong my life (smile). After baking in a dry heat room and then cooling off in a beautiful pool I was handed a container of kosher salt and told to rub it all over me and then go back into the dry heat room. Supposedly this pulls the poisons out of your body through your skin, but sitting in a small, very hot room, covered in salt I felt like the Christmas turkey, seasoned and then popped into the oven to bake.
We rinsed the salt off under a shower and then rubbed spun honey all over ourselves and went to sit in the steam chamber so that more poisons could be leached out of our skin. With the steam and the honey I felt like the turkey that was being basted.
We spent 3 hours together in the ‘altogether’, baking, cooling off in the pool, steaming, cooling off in the pool, drinking juice and eating snacks together, then doing it all over again. After some time I realized that I had completely relaxed and was experiencing a very precious sense of acceptance greater than any I have ever known. I understood that what was happening in me was something of a spiritual nature. By unclothing myself in the presence of these ladies, most of whom were 25 or more years younger than I am, I was able to hide nothing from their eyes and I became totally vulnerable. There was such an uninhibited sense of innocence among the group and a joyful acceptance of each other as whole persons in spite of our imperfections. I truly felt a sense of acceptance on a level that I had never before experienced.
I feel as if I have a better understanding of what relationships in Jesus Christ should really be like; nothing hidden, nothing covered up in our spirit or our character, but completely honest, uncovered and vulnerable before each other. As Christians we speak this truth to each other, but this time, for me, it has left a lasting glow because I experienced the truth in a new and deeper way.