Some books defy categorization. ‘Love: The Saint and the Seeker‘ by Christina Stevens is one such book.
It’s marketed – understandably – as a biography of Mother Teresa. However, Christina Stevens has only known the saint for a couple of days. Instead the book is mostly an autobiography of Christina Stevens and how Mother Teresa’s life touched hers.
Although most people who read this book like it, Catholics complain that there is not enough of the saint in the book. However, Mother Teresa didn’t just touch the heart of Catholics, so it’s fair that there is at least one book out there which represents that non-denominational perspective.
As I read the first pages of this autobiography (as I will call it), I wondered whether I would make it to the end. I did. The book constantly hovers on the borders of the too-self-involved, too mystical, not authentic enough. However, it always manages to stay on the side of authenticity.
What makes me say all that? Well, it turns out Christina Stevens is a believer in The Law of Attraction. And I have been wary of that for a long time. However, the way she writes about it makes sense, at least on a personal level. What I mean is: she’s not just marketing it. She’s not writing about it as the end to all problems. She describes her life and her many personal challenges and the way the Law of Attraction works in her own life. Trusting her intuition brings her close to Mother Teresa and helps her create a more authentic life for herself.
Like Christina Stevens, I was never a Catholic, though I flirted with it a bit in high school. Like Christian Stevens I admired Mother Teresa and thought her the ultimate expression of Love, of the Biblical Agape. Unlike Christina Stevens, I didn’t even blame Mother Teresa for being a Catholic. Thinking about it now, it seems to me that her work could not have been done under any other banner. Although all kinds of mystical magic can happen in India, even in India it takes some sort of label, some sort of ‘excuse’ if you will, to break convention the way she did and then end up helping so many people. Especially for a Western woman.
We’ll never be sure of course. Mother Teresa happened and this is the sort of thing that can only happen once.
Christina Stevens did not meet Mother Teresa as a fellow Christian, nor as a hard-headed atheist. She met her as a fellow mystic. She also met her as a wounded soul, with many wounds to heal. By the end of the book, some of those wounds have healed, but clearly not all of them. It feels like Christina still has a lot of hurt and restlessness in her in the end.
I can’t blame her, again, unlike some of the reviewers on amazon. Mother Teresa’s youth was not easy, but she had a loving and supportive family in which she grew up. What’s more: her family instilled deep spiritual values in her. Values like generosity even in times of poverty, devotion and mutual care.
Christina on the other hand grew up in a home that child services ought to have been interested in. She has three missing vertebra, because her mom dropped a cigarette on her back when she was a baby. Her dad was aggressive and her mom was an alcoholic. Christina is in fact the sort of person that stands as an example to all those kids out there who did not grow up in safe homes: some of them WILL make it.
Her life is also a testimony to all hard-headed materialists out there: being a mystic doesn’t disqualify you from a normal professional life.
How mystical does Christina get? Well, she mixes in several past lives in which she met Mother Teresa. One in which the mother was a man (a native) who protected the previous Christina when she was proselytizing in Africa. Another in which Christina was the daughter and Mother Teresa the mother.
Christina goes to India inspired by a meeting with Mother Teresa in a dream. When they meet, Mother Teresa has to be convinced to be filmed – and only consents after Christina has found a measure of peace in herself. In her turn Mother Teresa – while a hesitant object for a documentary – does stimulate Christina to write.
I’m always the skeptic reading books like this. However, like Christina, I’m the skeptic in part because I have to keep my inner mystic in check. And ultimately that is what makes this book believable: Christina too has a skeptical relationship with her own visions, premonitions and dreams. She faces her demons, realizing that many are still hiding under the carpet.
And that brings me to the only downside to this book: the end is a bit drawn out. It tapers out into details that I could not bring myself to focus on. Endings are always hard, as Christina herself notices earlier in the book. This one did not quite satisfy. However, the book stayed with me and I’m sure it will inspire many.
- Love: The Saint and the Seeker by Christina Stevens
- Print Length: 355 pages
- Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1401945910
- Publisher: Hay House (September 10, 2014)
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
- Language: English
Disclaimer: I read a free Netgalley version of this book distributed among bloggers.