A look that changes everything

Look and not just see


Last Sunday, I discovered the word Sawubona. It is a greeting in the Zulu language, which means “I see you.” How nice, right? And how much we long not to be invisible to others.

Having someone telling you: “I look at you, I listen to you, I am here for you” has an impressive power because it makes you visible, it leaves a space for you in reality, and in the other, it makes you feel important and, above all, that you are accompanied and not alone.

The fact that in this hyper-connected society, one of the great evils is loneliness is very striking.

How is it possible that we suffer so much from being and feeling alone? If we are permanently connected and communicating by mobile phone, why is there so much pain due to loneliness?

I was thinking about this on Sunday after I discovered this Zulu word, Sawubona. I was ruminating on that “I see you” and, knowing that there are many reasons why society suffers from loneliness or lack of company, I want to focus on one that is closely linked to this Zulu greeting and that is the look.

What is the look? It is a way of being in the world. It is a way of relating to reality and others. Likewise, it is an attitude and a personal response.

We can go through life just seeing, or we can decide to look. Go beyond the apparent. Not remaining in the prejudice or the label that appears with that first glance that our eyes are able to capture just by having the sense of sight.

To look is to know that the person in front of me is more than his actions. More than his successes, errors or defects. To look is to dedicate time to it, it is to make the decision to silence myself to give it space in me.

Looking is stopping to pay my attention to someone else who is not me.

It is telling someone “I see you” and, therefore, you exist for me. I welcome you and listen to you. I allow you to be you, just as you are because you are beautiful and valuable to me.

Because as people with a nature – even if they want to convince us otherwise – born and made by love and for love, we need to be loved and cherished. We need to be looked at and recognized.

In the whirlwind we live in, it is easy to put on automatic mode and get carried away by what we only see. It is very easy to live in that quick glance of “hello, how are you?” that does not even expect a different response from the other than: “everything is fine.”

And I say this from experience. I am the first one who, if I don’t put my mind to it and do an exercise of reflection and intention, I let myself be carried away by this dynamic of life. Headphones on that make silence impossible. Mobile phone that prevents me from looking up from a screen and realizing what I have in front of me or next to me, whatever it may be, and an endless number of superfluous tasks under the personal demand that I can do everything and, furthermore, I must do it with flying colors. .

And all this, for what? Why do I do it? What is the meaning?

On Sunday, I ended my day with an immense gift: being able to attend the closing mass of an Effetá retreat in the afternoon, which are spiritual exercises for young people between 18 and 30 years old and whose fruits are incredible.

There I could listen to a boy who had done it. His words were that during the weekend he had felt looked at and loved.

Is it looking to love? I leave the answer open to your personal reflection, taking into account that to look you have to make an effort. You have to put in yourself. You have to give yourself to others and give them your time.

To look you have to open your ears, your mind and your heart and empty yourself of yourself. You have to lift your eyes from your navel and your screen and decenter yourself to put someone else in the center.

And Hakuna’s song from A Second played, in which Jesus says in its lyrics: “If for a second you saw how I look at you…” That’s it all. The key and what gives meaning to our lives.

At the mass I was able to witness the power of a look, well, of many looks that, in reality, encompass One. A look that makes you very big knowing that you are very small: the look of God.

And once you know you are looked upon and loved by Him, it is difficult for you to feel alone again.

You will go through better and worse times. You will have problems and worries, disagreements and laziness, but knowing that you are not alone. Aware that you are accompanied by Another who loves you just as you are and before you change.

How necessary it is to stop from time to time and think about our way of being in the world. Reflect to realize if we look and listen or only see and hear. How much we need to be told “I see you” and “I am here for you.”

And like us, the others, each person. How thirst there is in society for true company, for walking accompanied.

On Sunday, I had the immense gift of being able to contemplate once again how God does things and the miracles that you can see if you open your eyes wide and decide to LOOK AND NOT JUST SEE.​