An Intimate Good

A Skeptical Christian Mystic in Conversation with Teresa of Avila

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At age twenty-one, the pain of losing her mother to cancer sent Laurel Mathewson—with a naturally skeptical and questioning outlook—on a years-long existential journey. After an unexpected, overwhelming experience of God’s love, Laurel felt God say to her, “Turn to Teresa. She will guide you.” She understood that “Teresa” was the sixteenth-century saint Teresa of Avila, but she knew very little about her. Even after becoming an Episcopal priest, she had never read more than a few pages of Teresa’s writings.

Laurel began to read The Interior Castle, Teresa’s book about the “dwellings” within our souls that we move through to develop an ever-deepening relationship with God through prayer. She truly marveled at discovering a text that illuminated her own spiritual path with such insight, candor, and clarity. And she continued to experience the intimate presence of a God who kept defying and transforming her cynical nature—and offered her the gift of healing.

This beautifully written and moving memoir illustrates an ancient reality still very much alive today: the love and closeness of a good God, as known through Jesus Christ, who seeks to move out into the world, into our very bodies and lives. Not by nature or training inclined to believe such a wild claim, Laurel discovered that God is full of surprises.

In every age, but perhaps particularly in our own, people hunger for personal narratives that help bring to life complex frameworks and ideas. An Intimate Good brings into focus not just Teresa’s Interior Castle but also the living God who is at the heart of it, especially for modern readers who take the life of the mind seriously and yearn for confirmation of meaning and belovedness. Laurel’s journey will lead you to a clearer understanding of the varied avenues God works in our lives over time, through prayer and other people, leading us in ways only possible by One who knows us intimately and loves us deeply.


Laurel Mathewson was born and raised in Oregon, where she received a lasting love for the natural world, rural communities, and social justice. She graduated with honors from Stanford University, where she found her intellectual passion in the intersections of literature and landscape, faith and politics, and social transformation—as well as a life partner in her now-husband, Colin. In her existential and vocational quest after losing her mother to cancer at the age of twenty-one,... Show More


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