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The Contemplative Study of Mystical Writings

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Carl McColman is a spiritual director, author, blogger, podcaster and retreat leader. His books explore spirituality from a variety of angles, although he is most passionate about celebrating the poetry and beautiful wisdom of the great mystics of history.

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Christian Mysticism: The Way of Divine Union

The Contemplative Study of Mystical Writings


 

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

A New Initiative for 2022: The Contemplative Study of Mystical Writings

Friends, I want to invite you to a special online meeting on Thursday, January 13 to talk about my new initiative, which I am calling “The Contemplative Study of Mystical …

A New Initiative for 2022: The Contemplative Study of Mystical Writings Read More »

Online Event: The Spirituality of Star Trek (February 17, 2022)

I recently had a conversation with my friend and colleague Alice Camille (author of books like Isaiah and the Kingdom of Peace) about our shared love for Star Trek. Well, before …

Online Event: The Spirituality of Star Trek (February 17, 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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The Contemplative Life in Three Easy Steps

January 17, 2022

Origen of Alexandria came up with the idea first. Unless you’re a Christian history geek, chances are you’ve never heard of Origen. He lived in Egypt from about 185 to …

The Contemplative Life in Three Easy Steps Read More »

In Case You Missed It — Here’s a Recording of the Launch of “The Contemplative Study of Mystical Writings”

January 14, 2022

Over 100 people came out to join me in an exploration of my new initiative, an online course, which I hope will be the first of a series I’m calling …

In Case You Missed It — Here’s a Recording of the Launch of “The Contemplative Study of Mystical Writings” Read More »

A Meditation on the Fruit of the Spirit (A Patreon Sneak Peek)

January 11, 2022

A note from Carl: Friends, I am currently writing a manuscript that I am calling Meditations on the Christian Mysteries. I’ve identified fifty-two key themes, wisdom teachings, and mystical principles …

A Meditation on the Fruit of the Spirit (A Patreon Sneak Peek) Read More »

A New Thank You Gift for Patrons: “Contemplative” Prayer Cards!

January 7, 2022

Hello friends, here’s a little video for you to watch… I recently did some training with the folks who operate Patreon, the membership website that provides a way for individuals …

A New Thank You Gift for Patrons: “Contemplative” Prayer Cards! Read More »

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“Contemplative Prayer is Dangerous — the Way Jesus is Dangerous”

January 6, 2022

A regular reader of this blog recently named Peter wrote to me: Carl, I’ve been reading about the Jesus Prayer. On the Orthodox sites they stress that if you haven’t …

“Contemplative Prayer is Dangerous — the Way Jesus is Dangerous” Read More »

A Great Mystical Book — With a Surprising Title

December 28, 2021

I’ve recently been re-reading one of the most fascinating and unusual books of mystical wisdom to have been written within the last 100 years. This is actually my third time …

A Great Mystical Book — With a Surprising Title Read More »

The New “My Sweet Lord” Video is Lots of Fun, But Misses the Point of the Song

December 21, 2021

Last week, the George Harrison estate released a new, “official” video for Harrison’s 1970 masterpiece, “My Sweet Lord” from his magnum opus All Things Must Pass. It’s a playful and fun …

The New “My Sweet Lord” Video is Lots of Fun, But Misses the Point of the Song Read More »

Two Essential Questions for the Mystical Journey

December 14, 2021

I was speaking with a few friends of mine who are spiritual directors recently, and we were talking about the work they do accompanying people who seek to draw closer …

Two Essential Questions for the Mystical Journey Read More »

The Most Common Criticism of Centering Prayer — and Why It’s a Fallacy

November 10, 2021

Sigh. Last night I stumbled across yet another website from a well-meaning, but obviously misinformed, Catholic blogger who attacks Centering Prayer as “un-Catholic.” Not only has she spilled a lot …

The Most Common Criticism of Centering Prayer — and Why It’s a Fallacy 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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