Every family has its weirdos. For some it is Aunt Trudy (the cat-lady), Cousin Sarah (who still can't hold down a job), or maybe Uncle Chet, who always, always speaks his mind—whether his thoughts have anything to do with the occasion at hand ... or not. We try not to exclude these characters from family gatherings, but sometimes we are (shamefully) relieved when they're unable to attend.
It is no different with the family of the Christian church. We have more than our share of odd-balls, characters we begrudgingly include in our history texts. Many of these fringe-dwellers have been relegated to a club, affectionately ("bless their hearts") referred to as the "Mystics."
Thanks to a recent "Spirituality of the Mystics" class at George Fox Evangelical Seminary, I have been drawn back to those often outcast writers of old. Those strange sages of spirituality (Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, Gregory the Great, Bernard of Clairvaux, ...1