Mystics and Misfits: Meeting God Through St. Francis and Other Unlikely Saints

Book, 2018, 256 pp
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Dear St. Francis, I long to learn the simplicity you preached, but I hold onto my space, my things, my clothes, and even my family with the tightest of grips. Have I learned nothing from Jesus or you about simplicity? I have too many things. I am failing.

With untested ideals and a thirst for adventure, Christiana N. Peterson and her family moved to an intentional Christian farming community 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, Peterson discovers that community life is never really simple and that she needs resources beyond her own to weather the anxiety and exhaustion of trying to save a dying farm and a floundering congregation. Turning to Christian mystics like Francis of Assisi, Simone Weil, and Dorothy Day, Peterson finds sustenance for the everyday struggles and unique hardships of community life. There, in the unruly lives of some of Christianity’s oddest saints, she discovers radical perspectives on simplicity, hospitality, solitude, church, and death. As grief threatens to overwhelm and as she and her husband weigh whether to stay in the community, Peterson writes poignant and lyrical letters to the mystics, whose untamed encounters with God call her to live into suffering rather than turn away.

With a contemplative’s spirit and poet’s eye, Peterson leads readers into an encounter with the God of the wild mystics and the weird misfits—the God who loves us madly, no matter how disillusioned we are or how miserably we fail.

(5 sessions)

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