What can saints and mystics teach us about faith, ourselves, and life in community?

April 17, 2018

What can saints and mystics teach us about faith, ourselves, and life in community?

HARRISONBURG, Va.— With untested ideals and a thirst for adventure, Christiana Peterson and her family moved to an intentional Christian farming community, Plow Creek, in the rural Midwest. It sounded like a simple and faithful way to follow Jesus, not to mention a great place to raise kids.

In Mystics and Misfits: Meeting God through St. Francis and Other Unlikely Saints, Peterson shares her discovery that community life is never really simple. She needs resources beyond her own to weather the anxiety and exhaustion of trying to save a dying farm and a floundering congregation.

Peterson turns to Christian mystics like Francis of Assisi, Simone Weil, and Dorothy Day to find sustenance for the everyday struggles and unique hardships of community life. With a contemplative’s spirit and poet’s eye, Peterson leads readers into an encounter with the God of the sometimes “wild” mystics and “weird misfits.” Along the way, she helps readers discover new perspectives on simplicity, hospitality, contemplation, church, and death.

Jon M. Sweeney, author of more than two dozen books and a scholar of Francis of Assisi, wrote the foreword, describing Mystics as “achingly beautiful … a long love letter to holiness. The mystics with whom Peterson engages are ones who wanted so much to be holy, as Jesus asked us all to be, and did it in ordinary and extraordinary ways.”

Endorsers include Richard Rohr, founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation, who writes, “I opened this fine book out of curiosity, and found it so well written and so filled with gems, that I knew I had to pass on the good news! Read [it] even if you think you don’t have time.” D. L. Mayfield, author of Assimilate or Go Home, calls it “the perfect blend of idealism tinged with mortality, of contemplation marred by depression.”

Christiana N. Peterson is a regular contributor to Good Letters, Image Journal blog, Christianity Today Women, Off the Page, and Art House America. Peterson now lives with her husband and their four children in Ohio. She has a masters in theology and a PhD in creative writing from St. Andrews University in Scotland. Find more of her writing and connect with her at Christiananpeterson.com.

Mystics and Misfits is available from Herald Press for $16.99 (paperback) and $13.99 (ebook). Canadian customers can order from CommonWord (877‑846‑1593), Parasource (800‑263‑2664), and elsewhere.

To schedule an interview with Christiana Peterson, contact LeAnn Hamby at 540‑908‑3941 or LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.

 

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