Students at Mount Pleasant Academy, with parent permission, had the opportunity to participate in a sweat lodge ceremony earlier this month. Officiated by Native Spiritual Leader Jim P., the ceremonies are formal but friendly, and can be as powerful as one allows them to be. “It just feels really spiritual, special; it feels like I’m closer to God in there,” one student says of his experience in the sweat lodge.
The sweat lodge frame, a dome made of woven branches, stands semi-permanently in the spirit circle on Mount Pleasant’s campus. Preparations for a ceremony begin in the morning, and the frame is covered with heavy blankets and tent canvas. Students help cut wood for the main fire, which will heat the stones to be taken into the lodge.
Inside the womb-like lodge, students find insight and healing. They are given the opportunity to let go and leave behind those things they carry with them that are burdensome and harmful. Upon emerging from the sweat lodge after the ceremony, students find themselves feeling lighter, refreshed; reborn. They have shared a deep and meaningful experience inside the lodge, amidst the sweat and steam.