A Nice Smelly Therapeutic Hot Bath


The actual hole seen from underneath

In 1883, Frank McCabe, his brother William, and their friend, Tom McCardell, were out to make a fortune. Those living in the 1800s were notorious for "get rich quick" schemes, and the three of them were anxious to hit the jackpot. They had originally come to the area that is now called Banff to work on the railroad, but when the work stopped for the season, they decided to spend the winter searching for the key to their fame and fortune.

While hiking in the hills one day, one of them slipped, ending up with his foot in a stream of water. To his surprise, the water was warm! The three quickly followed the stream uphill to discover an interesting hole in the ground, nearly hidden by fallen logs. They quickly build a tree-trunk ladder (In all reality it was just a tree trunk!) and lowered it through the opening. William, the daredevil of the three, courageously descended the make-shift ladder to find himself surrounded by a sea of stalactites and sulfurous mists. A little farther down, his foot touched water. He shouted up the good news, and soon all three men had removed their unnecessary clothing, descended into the cave, and were joyously swimming in what turned out to be a huge, natural hot tub. They had heard Indian legends about the healing powers of warm, mineral-laced water, and they were certain that they had just discovered their ticket to richness.

Though the atrocious smell of sulfur permanently infiltrated the area, Tom and the McCabe brothers built a small cabin near the hole in the ground. They built a proper ladder, and began charging people to come and visit their hot spring. Government officials got wind of the ordeal, however, and after much heavy debate, the government was given the rights to the hot springs, a move that eventually led to the founding of Banff National Park, the first national park in Canada. What promised to be a ticket to richness for Tom and the McCabes turned into nothingness.

The federal government called the area "Caves and Basins". They built bathhouses, put in roadways and foot paths, cleaned out the area, and eventually built a pool that the basin could drain into. The naturally heated, mineral-laced waters were said to heal almost any infirmity, and despite the horrendously over-powering smell, the people came in droves.

Naturally, the waters didn't heal all infirmities, and soon the legend of the water's healing powers became limited to diseases of the skin, such as gout, chronic rheumatism, syphilis, stiff joints, gunshot wounds (is that why the water turned red?) and poisoning by mercury or lead (if you were lucky enough to be poisoned in Banff!). This didn't seem to affect enthusiasm however, for visitors continue to flock to the area.

We now know that these hot springs are beneficial for muscular problems and relaxation therapy, and sulfur is recommended as a common ingredient for skin ointments. Any other medical claims derived from these springs however, are highly questionable. What promised to be a pool of healing turned out to be a hoax.

So many people, not only in the past, but also today, and most probably in the future as well, have claimed or will claim to possess a miracle healing potion. Unfortunately, these are all hoaxes. It's true that some potions heal specific problems, but nothing can cure every illness or ailment on our planet.

There is one person who can heal all illnesses, however. While on this Earth, He healed anyone who approached Him: "Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them." (Matt 4:23-24 NIV); and "People brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them." (Luke 4:40 NIV)

This God-given power was transmitted to His disciples: "When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick." (Luke 9:1-2 NIV); and "The seventy-two returned with joy and said, "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name." (Luke 10:17 NIV)

Jesus is the only one who can heal diseases. Sometimes He does it Himself, and sometimes He empowers others to do so, however nothing can compare to Him, and His power of healing is still available today. The problem is, it seems that humanity is more interested in trying human-made elixirs than in following Jesus. Remember, Jesus said: "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10 NIV) Water can be thirst quenching, even relaxing, but it can never fulfill our thirst for good. Only Jesus can do that. "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:13-14 NIV)

Hot Springs are nice to visit, especially when your muscles are tense and you feel extremely tired, but only Jesus can carry you through adversity and heal you from addictions, disease and unforgiveness. If you have made the time to visit a hot spring, may I encourage you to also take the time to find out about Jesus? Experience a full life through Him. You won't regret it!

Rob Chaffart

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