Divine Union is Embodied: Notes on the Incarnational Nature of Christian Mysticism


I’ve been working my way through Mystical Theology and Contemporary Spiritual Practice: Renewing the Contemplative Tradition, a book in Routledge’s “Contemporary Theological Explorations in Mysticism” series. There’s a delightful essay in it called “Unlikely Mystics” about the sense of wonder and numinous reality that people encounter when visiting...

Le Point Vierge


Cynthia Bourgeault’s latest book, just published this year, is a brief statement of her faith; the book is called The Corner of Fourth and Nondual. If you have been exploring contemplative Christian spirituality for any time now, you probably saw the pun in this title with no problem. But if not, no worries! Perhaps this post will shed some light for you. “The Corner” that...

The Contemplative Life in Three Easy Steps


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 253—meaning he was a third-century Christian, who died sixty years before Constantine decriminalized the faith. In other words, he lived long before the desert fathers and mothers, before the rise of Christian...

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


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 to support creative professionals (like me). Over 100 people help make the blog possible through Patreon, and their ongoing support has made a profound difference in my ability to manage — and...

Two Essential Questions for the Mystical Journey


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 to God. If you are not familiar with spiritual direction, it is a ministry of interactive care, in which a person supports another in the journey into deeper intimacy with God. A spiritual director does not “direct” in...

Putting the “Christian” into “Christian Mysticism”


Mysticism crosses all religious and spiritual boundaries. In other words, mysticism — like prayer or meditation or worship or sacrifice — is a universal spiritual/religious concept, not something that is limited to just one religious or wisdom tradition. What Baron Friedrich von Hugel called “the mystical element of religion” can be found in all the world’s great traditions...

All the Episodes of Encountering Silence in One Audio Player


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 your favorite podcasting service. Alternatively, you can listen to it right here, using this handy little audio player. The most recent episode is featured at the top, but you can scroll down below to find any of...

Between Thomas Keating and Teilhard de Chardin: On Finding Your Own Personal Spiritual Style


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 an introvert or an extrovert? Naturally intuitive, or more concrete in your thinking? Do you like to make decisions, or prefer things open-ended? Would you describe yourself as a helper, an achiever, a...

Questions About Different Methods of Contemplation


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 are some that I think many people might ask. Hi Carl, a very quick question.  Is the Jesus Prayer and Christian Meditation (as taught by the World Community of Christian Meditation) basically...

Even Your Breath Can Be Your “Sacred Word”


A reader of this blog submitted this question: How explicitly Christian does the prayer word need to be in contemplative prayer (e.g., Centering Prayer)? My quiet-time practice is a hybrid of Lectio Divina with the Liturgy of the Hours. “No problem” with the three discursive steps of Lectio, but when I get to the non-discursive contemplatio, I struggle with monkey brain…...

Can Contemplatives Have Fun?


Two words I often don’t hear together: “contemplation” and “fun” — or, for that matter, “mysticism” and “fun.” Recently I have been thinking about this, and I decided it was worth writing about. I like having fun. If you know me in person you know that I have a playful, almost goofy personality. I have a fondness for madcap TV sitcoms, for...



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