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Carl McColman

Contemplative Author • Speaker • Spiritual Companion

Hi, I'm Carl.

I created this website — www.anamchara.com — way back in 1996. Over the years, it has taken on many forms: it's been an advertisement for my books and other offerings; it's been a blog; and it's been an ongoing project devoted to a simple idea: my desire to provide a place where anyone interested in Christian mysticism (and related topics like Celtic wisdom, contemplative prayer and interspirituality) can come to explore, learn, and hopefully be inspired. I hope you'll take some time to see what's available.

This page is the obligatory "About Me" page. It's the least important page on the site. Nevertheless, here you are, so scroll down to read my "official" bio, see some pictures, and discover how you can join with me on one of life's greatest adventures: responding to the yearning in our hearts for Divine Love.

Carl-March-2019

Carl McColman is a contemplative writer, speaker, teacher, soul friend, and storyteller.

He is the author of numerous books, including The Big Book of Christian MysticismAnswering the Contemplative CallAn Invitation to Celtic Wisdom and Unteachable Lessons. His latest book, Eternal Heart, will be published in the summer of 2021.

Several of Carl’s books have won awards or recognition, notably Befriending Silence which won the 2015 “Georgia Author of the Year” award in the field of inspirational/religious writing. His work has been warmly endorsed by many leading voices in the field of Christian spirituality, such as bestselling author Brian D. McLaren who said, “If you don’t know about Carl McColman and his work, you should.”

Carl studied at James Madison University (BA, English) and George Mason University (MA, Professional Writing and Editing). His formation in the spiritual life includes training with the Shalem Institute in Washington, DC; the Institute for Pastoral Studies in Atlanta; and the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, GA; where Carl is a Life-Professed Lay Cistercian: a layperson under formal spiritual guidance with the Trappist monks.

After a career as a humble bookseller, he entered into full-time lay ministry as a retreat director, writer and speaker. Since 2016 he and his wife have served as adult catechists, co-directing the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation) process at their parish. He is a commissioned Centering Prayer presenter with Contemplative Outreach of North Georgia, and a spiritual director serving individuals both in metro Atlanta and online.

Carl’s writing appears on numerous websites, including Patheos, the Huffington Post, Day One, Contemplative Life, and Medium. He regularly posts new content to his personal blog at www.anamchara.com/blog on topics such as Christian mysticism, contemplative practice, Celtic spirituality, and interspirituality (interreligious dialogue).

Carl co-hosts the Encountering Silence podcast with filmmaker Cassidy Hall and theologian Kevin Johnson. He also creates video and audio content for his website.

Carl and his wife, artist Fran McColman, live near Atlanta in a small house filled with cats, books, icons and love. Their daughter, Rhiannon, passed away after a long illness at age 29 in 2014. When they take a break from the work they so enjoy, you may find Carl and Fran wandering around the mountains of western North Carolina or taking long walks along the Emerald Coast of Florida.

The Mystics show us a new way of being...

Silence. Love. Joy.

Teresabernini
Bernard

Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God…”

Julian of Norwich: just one of the many contemplative treasures in the Catholic tradition.

Latest Blog Posts

In-Person Event: Praying with Thomas Merton and Ignatius of Loyola (July 15-17, 2022)

I’m so pleased to be returning to Ignatius House for my first in-person retreat since before the pandemic! I’ve been asked to revisit one of my most popular retreats, which …

In-Person Event: Praying with Thomas Merton and Ignatius of Loyola (July 15-17, 2022) Read More »

The Cathedral Beyond the Forest (A Dream)

Last night I had this dream: Fran and I were visiting friends who had a beautiful house out in the woods. The house was covered with natural wood paneling that …

The Cathedral Beyond the Forest (A Dream) Read More »

In Person Event: Praying with the Desert Mothers and Fathers (July 8-10, 2022)

I am SO excited to be returning to Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, NY! I was honored to lead several online retreats for this monastic community during the pandemic; …

In Person Event: Praying with the Desert Mothers and Fathers (July 8-10, 2022) Read More »

All the Episodes of Encountering Silence in One Audio Player

The Encountering Silence podcast, which I co-host, is available through all the normal podcast channels, from Apple (iTunes) to Google to Spotify to Amazon. So please listen to it using …

All the Episodes of Encountering Silence in One Audio Player Read More »

Seven Years in Heaven

Yesterday — August 30, 2021 — marked the seventh anniversary of the 2014 passing of Fran’s and my daughter, Rhiannon. It was a stormy evening here in Atlanta, as we …

Seven Years in Heaven Read More »

Between Thomas Keating and Teilhard de Chardin: On Finding Your Own Personal Spiritual Style

Have you ever heard of the Enneagram or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator? These are psychological tools that we can use to discover the unique characteristics of our personalities. Are you …

Between Thomas Keating and Teilhard de Chardin: On Finding Your Own Personal Spiritual Style Read More »

Online Event: Invitation to a Deeper Spiritual Life (Dates: January 10-February 7, 2022)

Columbia Theological Seminary has a splendid certificate program for spiritual formation, and this four-week online course is the introductory program for those who wish to participate. But even if you …

Online Event: Invitation to a Deeper Spiritual Life (Dates: January 10-February 7, 2022) Read More »

Questions About Different Methods of Contemplation

Recently I had an email exchange with a long-standing reader of this blog. With that person’s permission, I am sharing the conversation here, edited to protect the reader’s privacy. The …

Questions About Different Methods of Contemplation Read More »

Online Retreat Day: At the Edge of Waiting: Centering Prayer and Celtic Spirituality (October 30, 2021)

In celebration of the Christian feast days of All Saints and All Souls — and the ancient Celtic New Year, which happened at this same time — you are invited …

Online Retreat Day: At the Edge of Waiting: Centering Prayer and Celtic Spirituality (October 30, 2021) Read More »

Online Retreat: The Spiritual Imagination of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis (October 22-23, 2021)

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia are masterpieces of fantasy literature. Since both authors were committed Christians, these writings also are filled …

Online Retreat: The Spiritual Imagination of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis (October 22-23, 2021) Read More »

Latest Articles

Why Do Mystics Talk About “Purgation” or “Purification”?

Traditionally, the mystical (or contemplative) life within Christian spirituality has been understood as involving three developmental stages: Purgation, Illumination, and Union. This three-step model of the mystical life goes all the way back to the earliest centuries of Christian history.

Read More »

Walter Hilton: The Scale of Perfection

The Scale of Perfection is, in essence, a book of spiritual guidance or direction, written by an elder contemplative for a younger reader.

Read More »

Mysticism and Faith: How Do They Relate?

Mysticism is important because it implies an experimental spirituality — it’s not something you learn from a book, but it’s a reality that we live, in our own heart and minds and bodies. But does this mean that there is no room for doctrine and faith in the mystical life?

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Howard Thurman

When we consider also the rich mystical sensibility that characterizes Howard Thurman’s sermons and writings, it is clear that he is one of the great twentieth-century Christian contemplatives.

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Reclaiming the Bible as a Mystical Masterpiece

Part of the process of reclaiming mystical Christianity in our day will be the equally important task of reclaiming a mystical understanding of the Bible.

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Union, Intimacy, and Love: the Dynamics of Christian Mysticism

The best way to understand Christian mysticism (if “understanding” is even a possibility, given the mysterious nature of mysticism) is to approach it as a process: a developmental journey of how one relates to God.

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Experience

Anyone interested in mysticism may sooner or later face questions like this: what does it mean to have an experience of God? What is the nature of such experience?

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Twelve Ways to Approach Christian Mystical Spirituality

I cannot nail down a Christian understanding of mysticism in a single session of a class (or in a simple blog post), but hopefully I can offer some lines of thinking that can help readers and students to think about Christian mysticism in a manner that is consistent with how mysticism has been understood by Christian theologians, contemplatives and visionaries.

Read More »

Silence

Spiritual silence is not about the kind of silence that harms relationships or inhibits communication. Rather, the silence of spirituality is the silence of listening, pondering, meditating, contemplating. It can only be freely chosen; never imposed.

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What do Christian Mystics Believe?

Anyone interested in the beliefs of Christian mystics will naturally be curious to know, “do Christian mystics believe the same things as other Christians?” It’s an almost impossible question to answer…

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Jason M. Baxter: An Introduction to Christian Mysticism

An Introduction to Christian Mysticism approaches the topic from an academic perspective. Baxter begins by suggesting that the mystics of Christian history — figures like John Ruusbroec, Meister Eckhart, Julian of Norwich, and Gregory of Nyssa — offer a healthy corrective, perhaps even an antidote, to the domesticated, “nice” spirituality that has come to characterize so much of mainstream Christianity in our time.

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Does Talking About a Mystical Experience Make it Stronger?

If you share with others a moment of profound mystical insight that you have does it, in fact, make it stronger and real for the person with the epiphany? In other words, in the retelling does it gain strength?

Read More »

In every heart there is a place of infinite longing.

— Carl McColman

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