Carl McColman

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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. Carl’s approach to contemplation and mysticism is grounded in the Christian tradition, yet inclusive and expansive; he is dedicated to exploring the common ground between faith traditions, with a particular interest in the connecting points between Christian, Buddhist and Pagan wisdom. Carl lives with his wife, artist Fran McColman, in Clarkston, Georgia, near Atlanta.

More 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. Carl’s most recent book, Eternal Heart, was published in the summer of 2021. He is currently writing a book on the distinctive mystical wisdom in the Bible. His books cover a variety of spiritual perspectives, from Christian mysticism and contemplative living, to Celtic wisdom, earth-centered and pagan spirituality, and Wicca. Carl is himself a practicing Christian who maintains a strong ecumenical and interfaith-friendly approach to his work.

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 and formation with the Shalem Institute in Washington, DC; the Institute for Pastoral Studies in Atlanta (under the direction of John Westerhoff); 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.

Carl maintains a busy schedule doing work he loves — as a writer, blogger, podcaster, retreat leader, speaker/teacher, and spiritual companion.  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.

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.

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 »

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.

Carl McColman answers a question after speaking at the Community of Hope annual retreat, Camp Allen, Texas, October 8, 2022.

People say the nicest things…

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

Anamchara (Anam Ċara)

In 1996 I named my website Anamchara, which is a Gaelic word meaning “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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