“Kisses from Katie” by Katie Davis

I have to admit, I wasn’t too thrilled when we chose this book, and before I even started it, I had already decided, in the back of my mind, that I would, at the most, give ‘one star’ to my GoodReads rating.

Why such an animosity, or to choose a less harsh vocabulary, such distrust in a book, when I like to think I enjoy reading books without much discrimination? I guess ‘religion’ or ‘God’ are not really my favorite topics of read or discussion. I find it a very personal matter, and let’s face it, because it is so personal, the number and scale of conflicts and wars are quite overwhelming to venture upon it. But on the other hand, if I had to be really honest about it, it’s simply much easier to avoid the topic. It’s so much simpler and easier to try to reason that religion shouldn’t take over our lives. It’s so much more convenient to try to convince myself and others that God is simply a figment of our weak desire to believe in something above us, that would make sense of things that don’t make much sense to the ‘rational’ mind. It also gives me so much more peace and comfort not to know that while I’m frivolously debating on whether I should remain Catholic or not, there are people out there who are doing unimaginable things to help total strangers, who are willing to step out of their cocoon of their wealthy and pleasant lives to reach to the most destitute ones; and all this in the name of a God they claim exists and loves them.

Honestly, Katie’s testimony of God’s love, His calling, her sense of duty to obey to it, her quotations of the Bible and her firm belief in prayers were quite ‘too much’ at the beginning. Maybe thinking that way was the only way I could hold on to my last shred of dignity and decency and not be ashamed of myself for not doing anything while she was doing all these admirable things. For those who don’t believe in God, or are doubtful as to whether something/someone greater than us exists, they could read about Katie Davis, a simple and normal girl in her early twenties in the US, your average girl next door, who gave up an abundant life in her home to go to Uganda, to take care of orphans and ended up living there, adopting 16 girls and taking care of everyone on her path. And if all it took for her to accomplish that, amidst the frequent lack of electricity and decent water, not to mention the cockroaches and rats, is her simple yet firm belief in God, then, yes, maybe that is proof of a God.

I try to comfort myself and rationalize that we are each given a ‘different calling’, that while it is absolutely amazing she is doing all that, I might not be ‘destined’ for such a duty and what I can do instead is perhaps make some financial contribution. Still, I can’t help but feel very small next to this average girl, who used to enjoy her shopping and hanging out with friends just as much as I do.

The even more amazing (or from another perspective, more belittling) thing is that she doesn’t pretend to ‘save the world’. Of course, she confesses she would want to, but she has realized that i’ts not about that. Here I am, sitting on my comfortable chair in front of my nice laptop, blaming governments and institutions for not doing their best for ‘world peace and stability’ and believing that ‘when I grow up’, I will be destined for greater things and contribute to finally achieving world peace and stopping hunger. And Katie is out there, helping one person at a time; and really, that’s what it’s all about, simply. One person at a time. One person next to you.

I’m not going to pretend that I have a new flaming firm belief in God and his goodness, and I’m going to exult his existence and His great love for us. I’m not even going to re-think about my religion. I’m not going to say that we should all read this book and realize we should help those less fortunate than us. But for those who may have gotten over their heads in their noble quest for ‘a greater good’ and a ‘greater cause’, which inevitably comes with power and recognition’, yes, do read it then, just to allow yourself one second of self-reflection and humility.

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