The Zulus, in South Africa, greet one another with this phrase: Sawubona, which means literally, “I see you.” In other words they are acknowledging that you are a person to be recognized in their presence. The response is a word that means “I am here.”
When I heard this, I felt a sting of guilt. I’m not very good about recognizing my children when I am on my computer or when I’m cooking dinner. I am not always great about greeting my good friends as they walk into my house and I’m upstairs folding laundry. I keep doing what I’m doing. I love the Zulu greeting because it gives the person entering your presence dignity and respect. I say I want to treat my kids with dignity and respect but I don’t. Instead, I often treat them like furniture, as if they are fixtures. So this greeting, “I see you,” challenges me.
The other twist on the greeting is to say it to God. For instance, when I do something I feel good about, something that gets my ego churning like a twister, I can stop and say, “I see you” to God and acknowledge that all things good are from Him. He is the reason that I have accomplished something good, whatever it may be. It’s a way of saying “To God be the glory.” Without him I am nothing.
Thanks to the Zulu tribe for inspiring me and helping me to reach out of my normal Americanized rush-rush self and into the slower, more intentional pace I desire.