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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, was published in the summer of 2021. He is now writing a book on finding the mystical wisdom in the Bible.

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 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 their creative work, you may find Carl and Fran wandering around the mountains of western North Carolina or taking long walks along the Emerald Coast of Florida.

A Word from Carl

(Because writing about yourself in the third person is awkward)

Hi, I'm Carl. Thanks for visiting my website, www.anamchara.com.

I created this website 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 "About Me" page is the least important part of this site. Nevertheless, here you are, so I hope you enjoy the pictures, links to my books and blog, and information about my upcoming events. No matter what brought you to this website, I hope you can join with me on one of life's greatest adventures: responding to the yearning in our hearts for Divine Love.

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Carl's style of writing is so down-to-earth, so honest, human, and normal... If you don't know about Carl McColman and his work, you should. — Brian McLaren

Carl McColman leads us to the brink of lessons no book can teach, then frees us to go forward to learn them, trusting the God who meets us at every step of the unknown way. — Barbara Brown Taylor

Carl McColman gives you much wise direction and broad understanding of the field of contemplative theory and practice. Here is your teacher!  — Richard Rohr

Carl McColman presents the classic precepts and practices of the Christian contemplative path in a clear and helpful way. 
— Cynthia Bourgeault

Carl McColman masterfully maps out for the serious spiritual seeker the nature of the mystical experience and outlines a clear and accessible pathway on how to get there. — Kyriacos C. Markides

Carl McColman obviously earned his understanding of mysticism through years of research as well as his own personal spiritual journey and there is no more powerful combination for inspired writing. — Carolyn Myss

Carl McColman leads us further into our hearts as sleuths in the mystery of life. What joy! 
— Zenju Earthlyn Manuel

Contemplation begins with Wonder.
What Are you Wondering About Today?

Upcoming Events

Two Online Retreat Options for October: Celtic Wisdom and the Spirituality of Tolkien and Lewis!

Hi friends, just want to make sure everyone is aware of two upcoming retreats I am doing online. If one or both of these topics appeal to you, I hope …

Two Online Retreat Options for October: Celtic Wisdom and the Spirituality of Tolkien and Lewis! 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 »

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 Evening Program: Gratitude in the Chaos of Life (November 11, 2020)

My friends at Friendship Presbyterian Church in Athens, Georgia (home of the B-52s and R.E.M.!) have invited me back to facilitate another one of their online forums. Here’s the details: registration …

Online Evening Program: Gratitude in the Chaos of Life (November 11, 2020) 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 »

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 »

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 »

Latest Blog Posts

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Do the Ten Commandments Still Matter?

October 11, 2021

N.B. Today’s post is a meditation on the Ten Commandments that I wrote for the people who support this blog through Patreon. I’m sharing this particular post with the public …

Do the Ten Commandments Still Matter? Read More »

The Cathedral Beyond the Forest (A Dream)

September 20, 2021

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 »

All the Episodes of Encountering Silence in One Audio Player

September 9, 2021

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

August 31, 2021

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

August 19, 2021

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 »

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Questions About Different Methods of Contemplation

August 14, 2021

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 »

Walter Hilton: The Scale of Perfection

August 9, 2021

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 »

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The Problem with Christianity in a Nutshell

August 8, 2021

We all know that so many people today prefer to remain spiritually independent, intentional about cultivating their interior life but unencumbered by affiliation to a faith community. In other words: …

The Problem with Christianity in a Nutshell Read More »

How Do Contemplatives Make a Difference?

July 28, 2021

Consider these teachings from Jesus, all taken from just one Gospel (Matthew): “Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me.” “Sell your possessions, and give (the …

How Do Contemplatives Make a Difference? Read More »

Work with Carl

Carl McColman has a limited practice of spiritual direction — a one-on-one opportunity for Carl to accompany you as you seek to move more deeply into the life of prayer. Learn More »

Carl is also available to churches and other organizations, to lead retreats or classes (online or in person) related to contemplative spirituality. Make a Booking Inquiry »

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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.

In every heart there is a place of infinite longing.

— Carl McColman

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Anamchara (Anam Ċara)

Gaelic for “Soul Friend”

We encounter God — the Ultimate Mystery — by weaving together silence, love, sacred stories, the capacity to wonder, to celebrate, to contemplate, to pray... and the care of companions along the way.

"Anyone without a soul friend is like a body without a head," proclaimed Saint Brigid.  Her words invite and challenge us to seek the Divine in and through the eyes of others. Mystics of every age have shared their wisdom: elder to seeker, mentor to aspirant, and even simply friend to friend. Today, we seek those who may bring God to us — and to whom we, in turn, bring God.

While the printed word can never replace the intimacy and compassion that meets us through a soul friend, may all who visit these electronic pages find stories that resonate, practices that inspire, and the kind of knowledge that leads to the threshold of unknowing.

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