High Priest Sauna Night was last night, and it’s the best ward activity of the year.
The men of the ward have two sauna nights, each quorum responsible for one. We hire a beautiful sauna by the sea, where we can also swim and grill. The RS does one or two Enrichment night saunas as well. Oh, and there is ward family sauna, but it’s lame on three accounts: 1. You have to wear a swimsuit. 2. The sauna has to be set at child-friendly levels (below 80C). 3. One’s wife is likely to respond negatively when one reaches for that second or third sausage.
The EQ does a spring sauna which is good, but the HP autumn sauna is better. Brother V is a sauna nut; he gets there early and makes the fire extra hot, and he buys a big salmon which is smoked on the fire outside.
Every male comes to the sauna who can, including inactives we only see twice a year. It’s the one activity to which several people will bring non-member friends. A visiting Area Authority came once and had a good time.
I’m always amazed by the transformation in those who attend. These mild-mannered, stone-faced guys I usually only see in cheap suits and socks-and-sandals stand majestically naked on the rocks like Greek gods, then either frolic in the sea or strut back to the sauna. Brother V is especially free of his grey suit and bifocals, grinning like an imp, chest out and arms akimbo with his combover flopping in the breeze. (The fact that several tour cruises go by our sauna spot doesn’t seem to bother anyone — we all just wave.)
We sauna, swim, eat sausages and fish and junk food, talk and laugh. It is an excellent time, and true fellowshipping.
I think my favorite thing about it, though, is that in a church is sometimes deeply homogenous, sauna night is an authentically local activity. Culture should interact with church behavior and doctrines to create local variants which do not contradict central doctrines. It makes the church alive and truly international, not just an export of an American phenomenon. It would be difficult to come to High Priest Sauna Night and say, sitting naked in a small room heated to 95C hip-to-hip with the stake patriarch and a deacon, ‘You know, the church is the same wherever you go.’