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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

Even Your Breath Can Be Your “Sacred Word”

A reader of this blog submitted this question: How explicitly Christian does the prayer word need to be in contemplative prayer (e.g., Centering Prayer)? My quiet-time practice is a hybrid …

Even Your Breath Can Be Your “Sacred Word” Read More »

Celebrate Your Eternal Heart with these Podcasts (and Video)!

I haven’t created any new videos or podcasts of my own for a while — something I hope to change this fall. One of the reasons why I have been …

Celebrate Your Eternal Heart with these Podcasts (and Video)! Read More »

Online Course: Wisdom of the Desert (September 27-October 22, 2021)

Explore the wisdom, wit, and spiritual insight of the Desert Mothers and Fathers in this four-week online course, sponsored by Columbia Theological Seminary’s Center for Lifelong Learning. The course counts …

Online Course: Wisdom of the Desert (September 27-October 22, 2021) Read More »

Online Course: Christian Mystics and Spiritual Companionship (September 9-30)

I’m so pleased to be partnering with Spiritual Directors International to offer this four-part series on spiritual direction/accompaniment and the Christian mystical tradition. Watch this video to get a taste, …

Online Course: Christian Mystics and Spiritual Companionship (September 9-30) Read More »

The Wisdom of the Heart (the Eternal Heart Book Launch Celebration!)

Friends, in case you missed it, here is a recording of the Eternal Heart book launch celebration! We gathered on the evening of June 29 — if you missed it, …

The Wisdom of the Heart (the Eternal Heart Book Launch Celebration!) Read More »

Online Class: Introduction to Christian Mysticism (August 21, 2021)

This online program is sponsored by Zeitgeist Atlanta. For more information or to register, click here. Zeitgeist — Atlanta’s Home for the Spiritually Independent and their friends — is offering …

Online Class: Introduction to Christian Mysticism (August 21, 2021) Read More »

Can Contemplatives Have Fun?

Two words I often don’t hear together: “contemplation” and “fun” — or, for that matter, “mysticism” and “fun.” Recently I have been thinking about this, and I decided it was …

Can Contemplatives Have Fun? Read More »

Catholic Spirituality versus the Institutional Church: Navigating the Choppy Waters

A friend on Instagram wrote this to me recently: Hello, Carl! I have become so drawn to the Catholic Church and I don’t know what to do. I am an …

Catholic Spirituality versus the Institutional Church: Navigating the Choppy Waters Read More »

In-Person Retreat: Praying with the English Mystics (August 16-20, 2021)

After almost 18 months of doing only online retreats and programs, I am thrilled to announce my first in-person event of 2021, at beautiful Mepkin Abbey in South Carolina! This …

In-Person Retreat: Praying with the English Mystics (August 16-20, 2021) Read More »

My Latest Initiative, or, What is a “Contemplative in Residence”?

Friends, I am honored to announce that I have embraced a special relationship with one of Atlanta’s most progressive and visionary spiritual communities. I have been named the “Contemplative in …

My Latest Initiative, or, What is a “Contemplative in Residence”? Read More »

Latest Articles

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?

Read More »

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.

Read More »

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.

Read More »

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.

Read More »

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?

Read More »

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.

Read More »

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…

Read More »

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.

Read More »

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 »

Verbum / Logos

Most people think of contemplation and mysticism in terms of prayer and meditation — and rightly so. But there is still an impressive body of wisdom literature to explore — what Thomas Cranmer said about the Bible applies also to mystical literature: these are teachings to “read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest.” You can take your study of the mystics so much further if you tap into a program as powerful as Verbum or Logos.

Read More »

Spiritual Directors International (SDI)

SDI now is an educational nonprofit, serving over 6,000 members in 42 countries around the world. Although it began as a gathering of Christian spiritual companions, today the organization is interfaith in scope and supports spiritual guides of any faith tradition.

Read More »

In every heart there is a place of infinite longing.

— Carl McColman

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