I’ve just returned from a trip – one I knew would be a big one. How big, however, I had no idea. In just under a month, South Africa won my heart – the land, the sky, the creatures and the people. All of it. I don’t think there is anyway I could have known that this wide open place, so full of light and shadow, would be what I’ve searched for my whole life. I had given up, long ago, on ever feeling truly at home anywhere. Given my beginnings, “home” was not a place of comfort or love or joy and I’ve always felt like an observer when people talk about how homesick they are, how going home fills them up. I never thought I’d experience that feeling.
And now? I get it. Full on heartachingly so. It seems crazy, I know, that a place I’d never been until last month can mean so much to me, in such a short time. It’s true though – and somehow the four year old me who sat in her closet and read myriad issues of National Geographic, visiting her tribal friends by flashlight for hours knew, back in 1965. All the years in between of reading about the bush and the tribes, of watching Out of Africa and Born Free and idolizing Jane Goodall – somehow I knew, deep down. It took me ages to answer the call, to understand that bringing myself to what I love so much would do more for others than any amount of coaching or teaching or creating would.
My work in the world, these days, boils down to helping people remember and reclaim who they truly are. It seems, though I thought I’d done all that, there was more to it for me. We learn what we need to teach and teach what we need to learn, don’t we? And there were so many teachers in that vast place – the trees, the oceans, the stone. The dancers, the music, the city streets. The animals and the ant lions (google that one) and the birds calling and soaring. The fire, the drought and the rain. Every bit of it reminded me that I was home, that I was welcome, that I was seen.
In Zulu, the word “sawubona” is the standard greeting. It means “I see you” and the response, beyond repeating it back, is “ngikhona”, which says “I am here”. The belief is that in seeing each other, we exist. Perhaps that explains how I feel, how things changed, more than anything. Where things go from here is not crystal clear, yet I will go back in a matter of weeks to spend more time discerning, to answer this incredible call. It all feels like a huge and wonderful gift, one that there is no possibility of denying. I am so grateful.
And I am here.