Seen, Perceived, Known

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[Image Description: A pair of black glasses is set on top of a gray laptop. There is a gray phone case to the left and a white computer mouse to the right.]

“Mom — Grandma! Look!”

This is the phrase I heard so many times while I was in Kroger. A young girl — maybe 8 or so — kept requesting her Grandma’s attention. She kept accidentally calling her Mom but then correcting herself.

“Mom — Grandma! Look!”

Then Grandma would look, and she did so with affection every single time. And that’s when the little girl would break into song. I wonder what sort of personal connection they had to this song. It was known to just about everyone in the store, but it seemed to have particular meaning to them.

“Oh, when the saints! Go marching in! Oh, when the saints go marching in!”

“Mom – Grandma! Look!” The girl opens the ice freezer. “Oh, when the saints! Go marching in! Oh, when the saints go marching in!” They laugh.

“Mom – Grandma! Look!” The girl picks up a grocery bag and starts marching. “Oh, when the saints! Go marching in! Oh, when the saints go marching in!” Grandma sings too.

“Mom – Grandma! Look!” The girl turns around in place. “Oh, when the saints! Go marching in! Oh, when the saints go marching in!” People are watching them interact, but the girl mostly just notices her Grandma.

Over and over again, she is expressing a need to be seen, perceived, and known, and Grandma is seeing, perceiving, and knowing with affection. This is such a profound, human need.

Certainly, we don’t all shout “Lookit!” and break into song in the grocery store, but that being said, I don’t think we ever outgrow this need to know and be known. It is a joy to recognize the moments when we are held in a loved one’s attention, and it is a joy to be attentive toward loved ones with the same kind of affection and connection.

I find myself resolving to this: We need connection. I don’t want to see past people. Of course, sometimes I do exactly that. But instead, I hope to perceive people joyfully— in their discoveries, in their element, in their vulnerability (when invited), and in their own joys. And I want to be seen, perceived, and known these ways too.

“Lookit!”

– Renee Roederer

2 thoughts on “Seen, Perceived, Known

  1. Renee, as an introvert I could not agree with you more. Decades ago I realized that if I did not break out of my introversion, I would become isolated. That is when I started leading many small groups as well as classes.

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