Tessa Bielecki
Tessa Bielecki co-founded the Spiritual Life Institute and live there as monk and Mother Abbess for almost 40 years. During that time she built four monasteries in three countries and now lives as a lay hermit. The monastic life that she developed was deeply rooted in the Carmelite tradition of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, but she translated it to serve contemporary needs and meet today’s problems. In that sense Tessa was one of the precursors of what we now call New Monasticism. In 2005, she co-founded The Desert Foundation with Fr. Dave Denny, an informal circle of friends who explore the wisdom of the world’s deserts, focusing on peace and understanding between the three Abrahamic traditions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Tessa was one of the first teachers at Naropa University’s Buddhist-Christian dialogue in the 1980s, an experience that she calls pivotal in her life. Tessa is the the author of several books and CDs on St. Teresa of Avila, including Wild at Heart for Sounds True. She teaches at Colorado College, gives lectures and retreats, participates in East-West dialogues, and writes. She spent her life living in the tradition of the Desert Christians.

Living Life to the Hilt
“Every day I walk out my door to be dazzled by wonder,” said poet Mary Oliver. What does it mean to be “dazzled by wonder,” to live life to the hilt? What practices awaken wonder and vitality? What obstacles dampen our zest for life? How do we overcome them to celebrate and serve with wisdom, passion, and compassion? Drawing on decades of living a rhythm of solitude in the wilderness, world travel and interfaith dialogue, and inspired by both the poetry and practicality of mystics, saints and sages down through the ages, Tessa helps us embody a down-to-earth ecological “spirituality” of contemplation in action.