What can heal the brokenhearted?

A profound shift in perspective reveals hope in place of despair.

Recently, While Thumbing through a Choctaw language dictionary, I saw a word that struck me as very beautiful—a single word that encompassed deep and tender meaning: nuktalachi, "to heal the heart." It occurred to me that this single word must have played a large part in Choctaw thought when these people were forcibly removed from their homeland in what is now Alabama and Mississippi and sent west (as were the Cherokee and other native peoples) on a "Trail of Tears" through bitter cold, heartache, hunger, disease, and even death. How they must have clung to the hope embodied in this word; how it might even have become a one-word prayer.

People of every tribe and nation, in every part of the world, still are often crying out for a healing of the heart, for a tender word, a gentle touch, a friendly face, a forgiving nature. Is there anyone who has not sometimes felt or said "That breaks my heart" or who has not felt as if he or she were on some personal "Trail of Tears"? There is another trail, a trail that leads to nuktalachi—a healing of the heart.

May 11, 1998

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