The woman shows a white woman with curly brown hair smiling. She is a priest and is wearing her priestly garbs.

Laurel Mathewson is pastor of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in San Diego. 

Posts By This Author

My Spiritual Director Told Me I Needed a Silent Retreat

by Laurel Mathewson 02-15-2024
How the humor and honesty of a 16th-century Spanish nun helped me trust God.
The illustration shows a woman who's eyes are closed sitting on a chair, with her hands open and facing up in a receiving posture.

Illustration by Owen Gent

THE INTERIOR CASTLE, the best-known text of 16th-century Spanish saint Teresa of Ávila, is a tour of the inward ways we relate to God, with varying intensity, awareness, and intimacy. In Spanish, the book is simply Moradas, or “Dwellings,” a title I find more appealing and helpful than the English title, mostly because “dwellings” sounds approachable, universal, and less precious.

Teresa was a grounded mystic. She is down-to-earth in her prose, her witty and candid teaching, and her lived experience. It could be argued that every “true” mystic or saint is grounded or has some element of both the active and contemplative life. Teresa strikes me as remarkably and robustly balanced, in a way that her basic reputation as a mystic sometimes betrays. She is notably resolute in both her defense of the reality of “supernatural” prayer experiences and her insistence that this loving movement of God to an individual must then extend into the world rather than curve in on itself. What we might call her grounded nature even extended into her prayer dialogues with Jesus: Once, when complaining honestly to Christ about her many struggles, she heard a response to this effect: “Don’t be troubled; so do I treat my friends.”

Her tart response? “I know, Lord — but that’s why you have so few friends!” In many of her waking days, she worried that Christ has so few “good friends,” and tried to encourage her contemporaries to become better friends of God. But she is clear-eyed and honest about the things that stand in the way of that friendship, from within and without.


New Barriers Will Prevent Communion Across the Border

by Laurel Mathewson 10-10-2008

This past Sunday, Oct. 5, was World Communion Sunday.

Going with Your Gut

by Laurel Mathewson 02-01-2008

I often "miscue" in reading the story of the Good Samaritan.

'Lord What Shall I Eat? How Much Should I Weigh?'

by Laurel Mathewson 07-01-2007


A reflection on healing our relationship with food.

Things You Can Do

by Laurel Mathewson 07-01-2007

1) Organize. If a presidential candidate is coming your way, ask him or her: How are we going to cut carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050? What's your plan?

2) Organize.

Women's Work

by Laurel Mathewson 06-01-2007
The better half of peacemaking.

A Stream of Light

by Laurel Mathewson 06-01-2007

As we stepped out of the cathedral, wind blew snow from the rooftops, past the lit windows of the Cotswold-like cottage beside the cathedral.

Pop Culture Christianity

by Laurel Mathewson 06-01-2007

Since the box-office success of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, there's been a lot of hoopla about the big, previously neglected "Christian audience" (and how to cash in on it).

What Can I Do?

by Laurel Mathewson 05-01-2007

1) As a citizen:
Join the trade justice movement
Go to the "get involved" or "take action" links on the following Web sites:

  • U.S.

New and Noteworthy

by Laurel Mathewson 04-01-2007

Real Re-Creation

School of Shame

by Laurel Mathewson 02-01-2007

Last November, a record 22,000 people gathered at the gates of the Fort Benning Military Reservation in Georgia to protest the military training school, for soldiers from Central and South American

Declaring Peace With Iraq

by Laurel Mathewson 01-01-2007

More than 133 people, many of them prominent religious leaders, were arrested on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol in September.