At this morn’s light,
the first of the sun’s bright illuming streams,
dispelling the darkness,
I, awakening, rising,
saw, at my side, my shadow;
whene’er, where’er I moved, striding, inescapably, with me.


Closer, I looked; there beholding my face.
Afraid, imagining what, wagering who I’d see –
a countenance scarred with the pain,
marred with the anger of every sorrowful moment of my past,
whether done to or, e’en worse, by me –
I turned away.

Yet, intrigued, needing
(if barely desiring) to see,
again, I looked.

And it was (it is!) the same face when perchance
I glance in reflecting glass.
For there, in every furrow, in each wrinkle,
was (is!) the record of my life’s story.


And then, closing my eyes, I remembered
every line and verse and chapter of Paul’story
and, once again, I know me.



Note: Many years ago, Pontheolla and I spent a month in South Africa, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal. There, when meeting anyone, we heard and learned to return the greeting, “Sawubona,” which literally means, “I see you.” In this, seeing is no mere matter of beholding another via physical sight, but rather it is to embrace and accept another person in and with all of her or his virtues and vices, strengths and weaknesses and to offer one’s self in service for and with another. This deeper, aye, deepest seeing of another also is to be granted by, for, and to one’s self.

2 thoughts on ““Sawubona”

  1. Ohhhhh Lord Paul!! I see you and I thank you!! Have never thought of my face being a record of my life’s story…. but it was a huge AHA moment for me!

    I’ve been looking deeply into myself as of late – in particular how I see others in relation to myself – as you put it their “virtues and vices, strengths and weaknesses”… I’d decide to do this now do I can go into 2020 with a clear head. I rarely look at myself in the mirror to reflect. It’s typically to just comb through my hair. What I took from this post though is that to really see my life, all of my life, I have to be willing to stare at myself first so I can see myself and my life from a new perspective. Who knew??

    Much love & thanks!


  2. Loretta, seeing my face as a record of my life’s story was an “Aha!” moment for me, too! Still, oft I discover what I am thinking and feeling only when I’ve uttered or written it. Now, if only I also could envision and behold my virtues and strengths as easily and as frequently – or, at the least, in tandem with – as I perceive my vices and weaknesses. In this realization, “Sawubona” – the word and its meaning – came to mind (for the original title of this poem was “Seeing Myself As I Truly Am”); which, therefore (again, I knew what I was thinking and feeling only when the word and my experience of it arose in my consciousness) expresses my hope for balance in my life and in my self-perception.

    Love ya’!


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