I See You



I grew up in a house where I felt seen. Even though there were nine in our family somehow our parents made each of us feel seen … feel that we mattered. My mother never went to bed until we were all home. Part wizard, part Mama bear and part angel, Mom would be sitting at the kitchen table, strategically located within view of the front door, reading hour after hour, novel after novel. She allowed us to come and go, but all the while had a good accurate handle on where each of us was. Mom never grilled us for information – but always had her finger on the pulse of how we were doing, day or night. We were seen.

Dad, while at Giant Food as a store manager never allowed any of his thousands of customers to pass without greeting him or her, many of them by name, and often with a lollipop for the little ones. Dad saw his customers at work, and when he came home he saw us, albeit it through bleary tired eyes. We were seen.

I’m told that members of South African tribes greet each other daily by saying “Sawa Bona” which means, “I see you.”  The appropriate response is “Sikhona” which means “I am here.”  Producers of the movie “Avatar” picked up on this African tradition and incorporated that greeting in the movie. Moviegoers worldwide were introduced to this method of greeting, and it prompted discussions about how we treat each other  … are there improvements to make in the way we greet others throughout our day?

It was a gift to grow up feeling seen … feeling validated. Respected for who I was and feeling that my presence mattered … that I mattered. I think my parents picked up on Jesus’s  example of making those in His presence know that they were seen and that they mattered. We see this time and again in these first few days following Easter when Jesus returns and shows Himself to his disciples and followers. Following the brutality of His passion and death on a Cross, Jesus knew that His followers needed an extra boost of His presence. He showed Himself again and again so that He could be seen, and so that others could be seen by Him. Mary Magdalene, Johanna, Peter, Cleopas, Thomas, the other disciples, and countless others all saw Jesus. And He saw them.

What does it mean for us to truly see another person? To greet another person? To validate who another person is and that their existence matters in our lives?

What if all parents made their children feel as if they were seen and that they mattered? How different might our world be?

What if we greeted our spouses in a way that conveyed the message that your day just got a whole lot better because that person returned home safe and sound?

What if teachers greeted their students in a way that conveyed that the students give the teacher purpose?  Sure, grades and test scores are important, but how different is it when students feel they matter personally?

In the church – do we make our employees and volunteers feel like they matter and are appreciated regardless of what they do or accomplish for the good of the cause?

In our busy lives, do we see those around us who make our lattes, serve our dinners, handle our mail, scan our groceries, sit on the bus with us, or wait in line together? Do the people we interact with know that they matter to us in that moment?

(I’m not saying this is easy stuff to do, I’m just asking the question, what would our world look like if we all tried to do this?)

Bottom line is that Jesus has given us a great example and He has set a high standard. May we all strive to see others as intentionally as Christ sees others. In return may we be seen as Christ sees us.

I’ll be praying for you. Thank you for praying for me.

Peace friends,


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  • Rose says:

    This is so powerful – I am printing it out and posting where I can see it every day.

  • Mark Kelliher says:

    Dear Chuck:

    When the news played Pope Francis washing the feet on Holy Thursday I immediately thought of you and your previous multiple requests to add women to the 12 whose feet are washed. Prisoners & two of the twelve women! I thought, vindication! It was hard for you to be right on target with the times only to be met with blank stares or stern responses. I think I’m going to like Pope Francis, for the poor and for women, like my sisters. And I’m always going to love your ministry!
    God bless you,

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