Thursday, July 21, 2005

Sawubona: I see you.

It was great fun to be away, but it's also good to be home.

In Swaziland, people greet one another with the word sawubona, which means "I see you." It's more than "hello."

Last night, John and I attended "Companions in Healing," a healing mission offered this week in eight cities throughout our diocese. We received the laying on of hands from Swaziland Bishop Meshack Mabuza, his wife Lucy, our own bishop Alan Scarfe, and his wife Donna. Iowa and Swaziland are companion dioceses; Bishop Scarfe brought Bishop Mabuza to be among us, sharing his teaching and his healing gifts.
The healing service followed a musical (or non-musical, depending on how one feels about harmonica with piano accompaniment and a way-under-the-pitch violin) prelude and Holy Eucharist. Afterwards, people waited for over two hours for the laying on of hands and anointing. The healing required this amount of time because both bishops and their spouses together attended each individual; they spent at least five minutes with every person who approached.

So it was that sixteen holy hands touched us as four separate voices prayed. I could not hear Lucy Mabuza's words, but both Donna Scarfe and Bishop Mabuza spoke in tongues, we believe. Underneath that wondrous sound, I heard the steady, warm current of our bishop's voice. He then anointed us. For those of you at Seabury who remember the day that healing oil nearly blinded me for hours, causing me to adopt several weird squinting poses in Frank's Old Testament class, I'm happy to report that no oil seeped into my eyes.

I felt jolted by new energy as we left the altar, and find today that ordinary words do not fully describe the joy of the experience. I'm content simply to say that I asked for prayers to combat my insidious competitiveness with John as we share roles as seminarians in separate locations. We were blessed together last night in ways that I can't begin to describe -- or perhaps even to know.

Last night, I felt that I was seen . I see you. Sawubona.


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