In the late 1990s, I traveled to Colorado to take a 5-day intensive course for health professionals in Mind/Body/Spirit Medicine given by Joan Borysenko, a medical scientist and psychologist who brings together science, medicine, psychology and spirituality in the service of healing. Through Joan, I was privileged to meet a friend of hers, a Lakota Sioux medicine man. Sonny was in his early 50s, but looked much older. His hair was thinned, his face lined, his body disabled by rheumatoid arthritis. He was in constant pain, and needed hip and shoulder surgery, but the government had reached its limit of money allotted to the Indian Reservations (Sonny’s exact description for those who strive to be politically correct) for that year. So, Sonny had to endure the pain until they approved his surgery.
That first night, Sonny agreed to speak with our group of medical professionals. As he spoke of his people’s hardship, his eyes met mine. For an instant, I saw all the suffering that had been his life, and that of his people, the Lakota Nation. Tears streamed down my face. The feeling of communion, of shared suffering, was absolute. Sonny started to cry as well. In that sacred moment, in the eyes of this holy man, I saw the face and heart of Jesus.
I also took part in the Yuwipi, a sacred healing ceremony. At the beginning and end of such sacred rites, at the close of a prayer, or as a prayer itself, the Lakota say, Mitakuye Oyasin, which means “All My Relations.” They believe that a person is related to all Creation, and that we come from One Source. The Lakota honor the community of God’s people with compassion and wisdom.
From a healer who could not heal himself, I learned of universal suffering and compassion, through the eyes of the heart.
Tunkashila (Grandfather): Help Sonny to carry his burdens with strength and courage. Let him live a long and healthy life, free of pain and suffering. He is a good and decent man, worthy of your mercy. Mitakuye Oyasin.