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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: 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 »

Explore Celtic Spirituality with “Spirituality and Practice” Online Course — Starts August 8!

Hi friends, I’m happy to announce that my Celtic spirituality course through the Spirituality and Practice website will be running this August — August 8 through September 2, 2022!  To register for the course, click here. The course will include a Zoom call with  me on Thursday, August 18. Here’s the description and enrollment information from the …

Explore Celtic Spirituality with “Spirituality and Practice” Online Course — Starts August 8! Read More »

“Mystics Teach us to Reconnect with Timeless and Essential Truth” — Join Me for the Free 2022 Mystics Summit, online August 15-19!

An awake heart is like a lighthouse helping others to find a safe way home. ―Rolf van der Wind I’m one of over thirty presenters for the 2022 Mystics Summit hosted by The Shift Network — along with Mirabai Starr, James Finley, Rami Shapiro, and Greg Boyles, among many others! It’s free to register for …

“Mystics Teach us to Reconnect with Timeless and Essential Truth” — Join Me for the Free 2022 Mystics Summit, online August 15-19! Read More »

Latest Blog Posts

Julian of Norwich, Francis of Assisi, and Centering Prayer: Three Mystical Books for Children

August 11, 2022

Yesterday I received an advance copy of a wonderful book coming out this fall, that tells a simple children’s story about grief and loss, while using the wisdom of Julian of Norwich to underscore the message that “all shall be well.” All Will Be Well: Learning to Trust God’s Love by Lacy Finn Borgo, illustrated by …

Julian of Norwich, Francis of Assisi, and Centering Prayer: Three Mystical Books for Children Read More »

Memento Mori: The Contemplation of Death and the Wonder of Life

August 6, 2022

Twice this week I have learned of the death of an acquaintance. I hesitate to say “friend” because neither of these people were friends in a close sense: one of them I hadn’t seen or been in contact with in almost four years, the other not since the mid-1990s. But they were both men I …

Memento Mori: The Contemplation of Death and the Wonder of Life Read More »

Some Christians Attack Centering Prayer and Contemplation. They are Motivated by Bad Theology.

August 3, 2022

A reader of this blog sent me the following question today. Hi Carl, I see from conservative Christian circles that WCCM and Centering prayer is labelled new age and dangerous. Are these practices Christian really?  Or are we trying to incorporate eastern meditation into Christianity ? First, the short answer. Contemplative practices like Centering Prayer …

Some Christians Attack Centering Prayer and Contemplation. They are Motivated by Bad Theology. Read More »

Seven Ways to Read a Mystical Book

August 1, 2022

Reading the writings of the great mystics — of figures like St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Ávila, Meister Eckhart, Julian of Norwich, or even modern writers like Pierre Teilhard de Chardin or Bernadette Roberts — is not always easy. Many mystics use dense or figurative or poetic language in their attempts to …

Seven Ways to Read a Mystical Book Read More »

Eternal Heart Audiobook CDs now in stock!

August 1, 2022

Back in June I announced that Eternal Heart is being published as a 4-CD audiobook. As of today, the CD audiobook is now available through my E-Commerce store. You can order it by clicking here. This means that Eternal Heart is now available in three formats: as a hardcover book, an ebook (Kindle and all other major ebook formats) …

Eternal Heart Audiobook CDs now in stock! Read More »

How to be a Contemplative in Today’s Political Climate

July 22, 2022

I was speaking recently with one of my Patreon supporters (Patreon is a crowdfunding program to support writers, bloggers, musicians, etc. This blog is made possible by the generous people who support it through Patreon). She asked me a blunt question. How do you do it? How do you, as someone who writes about contemplation, …

How to be a Contemplative in Today’s Political Climate Read More »

Encountering Christian Mysticism with the “Mystics and Skeptics” Podcast

June 28, 2022

Hi friends, I recently was a guest on the “Mystics and Skeptics” podcast. Needless to say, we talked about… Christian mysticism, of course! Sybil, the host of the “Mystics and Skeptics” podcast, is a wonderful conversation partner; she and I quickly developed a rapport which led to a wide-ranging conversation about mysticism — both Christian …

Encountering Christian Mysticism with the “Mystics and Skeptics” Podcast Read More »

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 »

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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