“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” – Anais Nin
When I was in college, I lived in a dormitory run by Catholic nuns. There, I came to know Sr. Lourdes who would greet me by clasping both her hands to her chest and bowing her head while saying, “Namaste.” I knew Sr. Lourdes is from India so I did not give her greeting much thought as I saw it as her way of greeting me the traditional Indian way.
One day, we bumped into each other in the foyer. She greeted me in the same way and I greeted her back by smiling. She then asked me, “Do you know what ‘Namaste’ means?” I nodded and said, “I think it is the traditional way of greeting in India, Sister.” She smiled and nodded. “You know,” she continued. “It is more than that. It means ‘I see God in you.’ ” Simply put, I was dumbstruck.
Months later, I gave her a poem about her being my inspiration. I shared how I appreciated her kindness and generosity. In all humility, Sr. Lourdes replied that I would not have appreciated such attributes if I also did not have those in me. I cannot remember her exact words but it went something like, “We are what we see.” Hearing this, I was rendered more dumbstruck.
I was dumbstruck because I really did not see it that way. It’s not that I saw myself as a bad person. It’s more like I knew myself to be more of the maldita type of person so attributes like kindness really didn’t come naturally to me. Truth be told, I was even told to intimidate people with my strong personality!
Imagine my shock then when once during her routine bed checks, she told me, “You are very amable.” And I asked her, “What’s amable, Sister?” And she said, “Kind. You are very kind.”
I saw myself as someone who was difficult to be with but Sr. Lourdes saw more than that. She saw my capacity for doing and being good and she was able to do so because that’s how she is.