Among the tribes of northern Natal in South Africa, the most common greeting, equivalent to “hello” in English, is the expression: “sawu bona.” It literally means, “I see you.” If you are a member of the tribe, you would probably reply by saying “sikhona” or “I am here.” The order of the exchange is important: until you see me, I do not exist. It’s as if, when you see me, you bring me into existence.
My two year old son will stand in front of me and clap his hands when I’m watching television. I’ll say, “I see you Elijah.” But he’ll continue to clap and to watch me. He wants to know if I really see him or if my attention has quickly returned to the TV. “Daddy, do you really know that “I am here?” Sometimes I’ll mute the TV so that I can place my full attention on him, or I’ll take him into my lap. I want him to know that I really do see him. That he matters.
How many times throughout a day does someone stand in front of me and wonder if I really see them? If I am really present with them.
God, this day, help me to see people. To affirm that they are really here. That they matter.