Facing the Sweat Lodge

All week we had heard stories; stories of what to wear and what to bring, stories of what to expect- what the experience would be like, but no matter how many stories we heard and no matter how much water we had consumed the night before, as we approached the small dome shaped tent on Wednesday afternoon, we felt anxious.

It was our time now- time to face the sweat lodge.

Four rounds of suffering and more sweat than you ever thought you were capable of producing, but also four rounds filled with so much meaning- rounds of prayer, not just for the ones you love but for the ones you dislike.

Chelsea and Kristen at the Wind River site

“Don’t leave nobody out”, Danny, the facilitator of the sweat lodge, constantly reminded us.

Though prayer and suffering were main components of the sweat lodge, the true purpose behind the sweat ceremony is to suffer for others. Danny, for example, shared with us that the reason he was participating in the sweat ceremony was so his children would never have to participate in it. He was praying for them, while suffering, in the hopes that his prayers for them and for the world would manifest. Thus, his children would have no need to suffer in the sweat lodge for they would have nothing to pray for because he would have already prayed for everyone and everything would already be taken care of.

In the end, then, all of the anxiety, suffering, and sweat was truly worth it for we weren’t experiencing all of those things just because, we were experiencing them for others- so that others would not have to experience them. We suffered for others, something that we could have never truly understood by the stories that we heard, alone, but through our actual experience in the sweat lodge, a sweaty but powerful experience.

Chelsea Ensor
2014 Graduate
Host Site: Wind River, WY


The CCSJ blogs are meant to be a place for Creighton students, faculty, staff, alumni/ae, and friends to reflect on their experiences with programs sponsored by the office or related to its mission. The views expressed in these reflections, and all other blogs found on or linked to from this website, are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of Creighton University, the Creighton Center for Service and Justice (CCSJ), or any of the University’s affiliates. The University and the CCSJ are not responsible for the actions, content, accuracy, or opinions expressed in these blogs.