In 1521 Ponce Del Leon, a Spanish explorer for the crown, explored Florida for riches. He was reputedly searching for the “Fountain of Youth.” It was on a fateful day almost 500 years ago that he discovered what is now known as Warm Springs, Florida. Indigenous Native Americans mortally wounded the explorer there. The springs are a large sinkhole some 250 feet deep now filled with warm mineral spring water at a constant 87 degrees from deep within the earth. This 1.4-acre sinkhole circulates over 9-million gallons of water per day, infused with the richest density of minerals of any known warm-water spring in the world. Chloride, sulfur, magnesium, and some 20 other minerals make the water much heavier than H2O. Archeological dives have discovered ancient Paleo-Indian burials from some 4-10,000 years ago at the bottom. At that time woolly mammoths and saber-toothed tigers roomed in the Ice Age.
On March 3, 2016 my wife and I traveled to the Warm Springs. Pam has made it a quest to visit and soak in as many hot springs as she can wherever we go. It was a warm 80-degree sunny day as we walked to the spring in a rural scrub palm wooded area. The scene was a brilliant mélange of sound, sight and smell to take in. The spring was a dark pond of 1.4 about 250 in diameter and depth surrounded by a grassy tropical tree filled park. It was filled with perhaps 500 people ensconced in a myriad of brightly colored swimsuits, sun hats and sunglasses. The swarm floated, bobbed and swam around the pool surrounded by red and blue beach chairs where towels and sunbathing people lay. It was quite a sight in the middle of nowhere. However, perhaps it was the smell and sound that was most strange. The water smelled of sulfur and other pungent gases like a rotting compost pile. Not nice, but supposedly healing, something we had experienced many times in other favorite hot springs through the Northwest.
Through the sights and smells came a low cacophony of voices arising from the water before us. It was almost like a swarm of bees was moving around in front of us appearing as a carrousel with colorful riders providing the music. Intrigued we headed into the dark, warm to join the moving mass of humanity.
The floating folks were mostly of white skin with bright coverings and large in size, even elephantine to go with the circus-like scene and history. But soon we began to realize that the sound of voices was a low drone of languages from around the world. In fact it seemed like we were the only English-speaking people in the pool. Soon I came across people from several Balkan countries, Italy, Germany, Spain, South America and Russia, a veritable United Nations. I know that the Eastern Europeans enjoy the hot springs of the Baltic and Black Seas and perhaps that attracted them.
But the almost surrealistic quality of the experience brought me to a different place, the Book of Revelation, and the worshipful singing around the throne of God. People from all nations, tribes and tongues are assembled to praise the Lord of Hosts and the Lamb on His throne. I know that they and the angels and elders sing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, who was, and is, and is to come” (Revelation 4:8; 21:15-21). I could imagine the worship going on in heaven. Revelation describes the incredibly beautiful colors of precious stones: emerald, sardonyx, sapphire, carnelian, beryl and amethyst making up the foundation of the New Jerusalem. The swimmers colorful coverings seemed to reflect such a place. In heaven there is no need for light for God provides it. And so seemed the bright light of the Florida sun reflected everywhere around us as we swam with the others around and around. The probable sweet smell of incense burning around the throne of heaven stands in stark contrast to the mineral fumes rising from the pool. However, we read in Revelation 22 of the river flowing down from the throne of God and of the Lamb on each side of which stood the tree of life whose leaves brought healing of the nations.
Perhaps I have turned this warm springs experience into a parable because Jesus has said, “Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed are those who keep the words of prophecy in this book” (Revelation 22:7). I did find it healing to body, mind and spirit, and indeed I believe it is true.