Tessa Bielecki was a Carmelite monk and Mother Abbess for almost 40 years. She is the author of several critically acclaimed books on Teresa of Avila including Teresa of Avila: Mystical Writings and Teresa of Avila: Ecstasy and Common Sense. She is currently co-director of the Desert Foundation and lives in a hermitage in Crestone, Colorado. This paperback is a new edition of a book that was published in 1994 by Element; it is being released on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of Teresa's birth. Because the author finds the saint's teachings so relevant today, she dedicates the book to Adam Bucko, Rory McEntee, Netanel Miles-Yepez, and all "New Monastics" who strive to live a life of contemplation and sacred activism in the world; Bucko provides the foreword.

Bielecki honors Teresa of Avila as her spiritual mentor, a doctor of the church, and a saint for all seasons. She describes her as "an earth mother and an earthy mystic, a poet and a brilliant administrator, a shrewd politician and a good friend, walking a dangerous tightrope in a delicate balancing act between realism and idealism, common and uncommon sense, making love and making war."

Teresa had that mysterious quality which the Spanish call duende — a kind of raw, primitive, and tempestuous energy. The author challenges us to ponder afresh this daring brand of mysticism animated by spousal prayer, a sensuous appreciation of life, a diligent asceticism, and compassionate service of others.

In various enthusiastic chapters, described as "conversations," Bielecki covers Teresa's zest for life, her experience of agony and ecstasy, spousal prayer and divine intimacy, love-wounds and service, practices for meeting the beloved, and celebrating fast and feast. She salutes Teresa's ability to talk with people from all walks of life, her lively sense of humor, and her emotional vitality.