I See You – A blog post by Beth Elliot

This is a lonely time for everyone. 


One of the most important reasons people state for joining a church is to find community. UUCB is a source of community and social interaction for many. Here is where we make friends, find common ground, and even serve justice together. How do we keep that going when we must be apart?


I learned a standard Zulu greeting this week: Sawubona. The translation is, “I see you,” although it has a more expansive meaning. It implies that you are not just visually seen, but that you are recognized in your humanity. It affirms your value and your dignity. In short, it is the verbal welcoming equivalent to the First Principle of our faith: The inherent worth and dignity of all beings.


As author Ozan Varol explains it’s meaning, “You exist. You matter. You contain multitudes… You are a living, breathing, imperfect being who has experienced joy and suffering triumph and despair, and love and grief.”


There is also a traditional response, “Ngikhona.” This acknowledgement indicates that you feel seen and understood.


These exchanges are not meant to be casual or perfunctory. It is meant to take a bit of time and to ensure that you connect on a meaningful level. 


How can we live the beauty of Sawubona and Ngikhona? Can we pause and really see the people around us, whether it is on Zoom or behind a mask? 


This week I aim to see the complex, sometimes messy, but always beautiful humanity in everyone. Even through the gallery view of a Zoom meeting, or while getting out of the way of a bike on the running trail, or through a phone call. We have been isolating for a long time now, and none of us know if we will need to continue for weeks, months, or years more. Each time we connect with someone is even more precious. Let’s make each encounter count.


I say Sawubona to you. Will you honor me with a Ngikhona?