“The only life that interests me is one lived for him.”
- Dr. Takashi Nagai, A Song for Nagasaki
“I have learned that something happens when one makes herself
available to God: He starts moving in ways no one could imagine.”
--Katie Davis, Kisses from Katie
Originally, this post was going to be centered around the difference between being occupied and being preoccupied. To be occupied, I would contend, means to be about our Father’s business: to be open to, discern, and subsequently do His will. To be preoccupied, on the other hand, is to be in a state of persistent distraction and anxiety, primarily fueled by a lack of desire for and trust in the Father’s plan (She writes as she checks Pinterest for the 25th time this morning). I was pondering the difference between these two modi operandi quite a bit at the end of the school year as I was finding it increasingly difficult to stay the course and do my best work in planning and teaching my students. Google Reader, Facebook, Pinterest, emails, texts, phone calls, and a myriad of other more interesting (read: easier) things started to consume my time. Part of me felt sick about all of the time I was wasting and wanted to get back to serving Christ, but that part of me was also the weakest part; the part of me (what St. Paul refers to as “the flesh”) that was stronger wanted to keep reading style blogs.
In any case, as I am nowhere near the saint I ought to be and find myself preoccupied far more often than I am occupied, I thought I would recommend two books about two ordinary human beings who, by being about their Father’s business, allowed him to do great things through them.
A Song for Nagasaki is the gripping and heartbreakingly beautiful story of Takashi Nagai, a Japanese radiologist and convert living in the early 20th century, as told by Fr. Paul Glynn. Nagai, whose cause for canonization is underway, literally gives his life so that his countrymen can benefit from radiology research and works tirelessly to aid the victims of the atomic bomb, despite suffering from advanced leukemia. The story of his journey to the Church, the loveliness of his relationship with his wife Midori (herself a saint), his miraculous encounter with Fr. Maximilian Kolbe, and his deathbed letters to the sick and suffering will increase your faith in the power of Grace to bring good out of the most horrendous evil. More than anything, you will be challenged and convicted by the whole-hearted devotion Nagai has to Christ and to doing everything he can to serve Him, even when he is bedridden with a 7.5lb spleen (a normal spleen weighs 3.3 oz...yeah).
In Kisses from Katie (based on the blog of the same name), now twenty-three year old Katie Davis recounts her journey from privileged American teenager to becoming an adoptive mother of 13 orphaned Ugandan girls, the founder of Amazima (her non-profit ministry that aims to provide schooling for hundreds of other Ugandan children), and, let’s face it, a living saint. It is impossible to read her story without coming to grips with one’s own lack of and deep need for the gift of faith. Also, if you’re like me, after reading about a day-in-the-life of Katie-Davis, you will feel as though you’ve never really worked a day in yours.
If you are interested in spending less of your life in a state of preoccupation and desire to be more available to God, pick up either of these two books. And let’s get down to it.
Christina Grace is a high school religion teacher who lives in Northern Virginia, works in DC (where she once received two parking tickets in one day), and calls Austin, TX home. She hopes to launch her new style blog, The Evangelista, by the end of the summer.