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Carl McColman a spiritual director, retreat leader, and internationally known speaker and teacher on mystical spirituality and contemplative living. He is the author of many books, including The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Eternal Heart: The Mystical Path to a Joyful Life, and Unteachable Lessons: Why Wisdom Can't Be Taught and Why That's Okay. He is one of the co-hosts of the Encountering Silence podcast, and blogs regularly at Patheos, Medium, and his own website, www.anamchara.com. Although he himself is a practicing Christian, his approach to contemplation and mysticism is inclusive and expansive, and he is dedicated to exploring the common ground between faith traditions; he is particularly interested in the connecting points between Christian, Buddhist and Pagan wisdom. Carl lives with his wife, artist Fran McColman, in Clarkston, Georgia, near Atlanta.

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Christian Mysticism: The Way of Divine Union

The Contemplative Study of Mystical Writings


About Carl

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

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; now, God willing, it will be a joy to return to the beautiful monastery on the Hudson River to lead a weekend of prayerful reflection …

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 pairs the spiritual wisdom of St. Ignatius of Loyola with the twentieth century mystic, Thomas Merton! Come to Ignatius House, a truly beautiful and restful …

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

In Person Event: The Mystical Wisdom of Teresa of Ávila (August 22-26, 2022)

I’ll be returning to one of my favorite monasteries, Mepkin Abbey near Charleston, SC, to pray with the Trappist monks there and lead an in-person, Monday-Friday retreat on the spirituality of the great Spanish mystic, St. Teresa of Ávila! St. Teresa of Ávila is one of the greatest of Christian mystics. Her books, including The Interior …

In Person Event: The Mystical Wisdom of Teresa of Ávila (August 22-26, 2022) Read More »

In Person Program: Exploring Group Spiritual Direction — Sponsored by Zeitgeist Atlanta (September 2022-May 2023)

Click here to learn more about this program and to register for it! I’m so excited to announce that I will be facilitating the nine-month program for Exploring Group Spiritual Direction sponsored by Zeitgeist Atlanta — Atlanta’s home for the spiritually independent person (and for open-hearted spiritual seekers of all faiths)! This is a wonderful stand-alone program …

In Person Program: Exploring Group Spiritual Direction — Sponsored by Zeitgeist Atlanta (September 2022-May 2023) Read More »

Ireland Pilgrimage in September 2023!!! Informational Meeting on Zoom — August 4, 2022!

Friends, I am thrilled to announce that my good friends at Zeitgeist Atlanta are hosting a Pilgrimage in Ireland, September 20-27, 2023 — and they have asked me to be the spiritual guide for this pilgrimage! This will be a very special week, as we will be keeping the size of the group very small: …

Ireland Pilgrimage in September 2023!!! Informational Meeting on Zoom — August 4, 2022! Read More »

Latest Blog Posts

Online Event: Contemplative Day of Reflection: Kenneth Leech and Pauli Murray, Contemplative Activists for Our Time (June 25, 2022)

June 10, 2022

Join me (Carl McColman) for a special online quiet day of reflection on June 25, 2022. We’ll spend time together in silence, and I’ll share with you some of the wisdom of two of my favorite 20th century theologians: Kenneth Leech and Pauli Murray. Ken Leech (1939-2015) was a priest of the Church of England, …

Online Event: Contemplative Day of Reflection: Kenneth Leech and Pauli Murray, Contemplative Activists for Our Time (June 25, 2022) Read More »

♾♥️💿 — “Eternal Heart” Audiobook Now Available on CD!

June 10, 2022

Hi everyone, just a quick note to let you know that Eternal Heart: the Mystical Path to a Joyful Life is now available as an audiobook on CD. It’s been available since publication as an Audible audiobook, but for those of us who are old-school and like having our audiobooks on CD, this is a great …

♾♥️💿 — “Eternal Heart” Audiobook Now Available on CD! Read More »

Join Carmen Acevedo Butcher for an Online Program Celebrating the Wisdom of Brother Lawrence

June 6, 2022

On June 16, 2022 my friend and colleague Carmen Acevedo Butcher PhD is offering a free online program to explore the wisdom of Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, author of The Practice of the Presence of God. Click here to register for this free event. You probably know Carmen Butcher from her luminous translation of The Cloud of …

Join Carmen Acevedo Butcher for an Online Program Celebrating the Wisdom of Brother Lawrence Read More »

Encountering Silence: A Conversation with Sister Joyce Rupp

June 3, 2022

The Encountering Silence co-hosts (Cassidy Hall, Kevin Johnson and Carl McColman) recently spoke with Servite Sister Joyce Rupp, on the occasion of the publication of her most recent book, Return to the Root: Reflections on the Inner Life. Joyce Rupp is well known for her work as a writer, international retreat leader, and conference speaker. …

Encountering Silence: A Conversation with Sister Joyce Rupp Read More »

The Wrath of God and Wishful Thinking (or, Julian of Norwich and Biblical Images of God)

May 30, 2022

Recently a reader of this blog wrote the following to me: I am just starting out on this journey and feel drawn to the mystical/contemplative side of Christianity.   To this end, I am using your book “Answering the Contemplative Call” and also “Growing into God” by John Mabry as my guides.   I do not have …

The Wrath of God and Wishful Thinking (or, Julian of Norwich and Biblical Images of God) Read More »

“Do I stay Christian?” A Conversation with Brian D. McLaren on a Significant Question for Our Time

May 30, 2022

Last Wednesday I had the distinct honor of being part of a group interview with leading Christian theologian Brian D. McLaren. The occasion was in celebration of Brian’s latest book, Do I Stay Christian? A Guide for the Doubters, the Disappointed, and the Disillusioned. It’s a provocative title and, indeed, a provocative book. Brian is …

“Do I stay Christian?” A Conversation with Brian D. McLaren on a Significant Question for Our Time Read More »

“It Cracks Up the Archangels Every Time!” (“Because They Have No Taste in Comedy!”)

May 20, 2022

I read lots of serious books: books about Christian theology, spiritual direction, the history of mysticism, and the psychology of meditation… that sort of thing. I’m not complaining — I love pretty much everything I read (actually, at this point in my life and career, if I don’t love it, I quickly stop reading it, because there’s …

“It Cracks Up the Archangels Every Time!” (“Because They Have No Taste in Comedy!”) Read More »

Read a Book About Silence (and support “Encountering Silence”)

May 9, 2022

Friends, many of you know the podcast I co-host, Encountering Silence (and if you don’t know it, check it out!). The following list of books represents some of my co-hosts’ and my favorite books on the topic of silence. We offer it here for your browsing and reading pleasure. The titles are linked to the books’ pages …

Read a Book About Silence (and support “Encountering Silence”) Read More »

The Erotic Dimension of Mystical Spirituality (or, Why Do Mystics Love the Song of Songs?)

May 8, 2022

Almost from the beginning of the Christian era, mystics and saints and theologians and spiritual teachers have reflected on one of the most beautiful and poetic of the “wisdom writings” in the Bible to explore the mystery of the love of God and how that love seeks intimacy with us, God’s human creatures. I am …

The Erotic Dimension of Mystical Spirituality (or, Why Do Mystics Love the Song of Songs?) 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.

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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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