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Carl McColman

Contemplative Author • Speaker • Spiritual Companion

Hi, I'm Carl.

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 page is the obligatory "About Me" page. It's the least important page on the site. Nevertheless, here you are, so scroll down to read my "official" bio, see some pictures, and discover how you can join with me on one of life's greatest adventures: responding to the yearning in our hearts for Divine Love.


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, will be published in the summer of 2021.

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 humble 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 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 the work they so enjoy, you may find Carl and Fran wandering around the mountains of western North Carolina or taking long walks along the Emerald Coast of Florida.

The Mystics show us a new way of being...

Silence. Love. Joy.


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.

Latest Blog Posts

Some Podcasts You Might Enjoy

Over the past few months I have had the good fortune to be the guest on a few podcasts. Perhaps you might enjoy listening to them. If so, check the …

Some Podcasts You Might Enjoy Read More »

Advance Praise for Eternal Heart

Friends, I am so happy to report that my forthcoming book, Eternal Heart, has now made it through the editing and proofreading process and the publisher is preparing it for …

Advance Praise for Eternal Heart Read More »

Many Paths, One Way: Balancing Religious Commitment with Spiritual Diversity

A reader, who chooses to remain anonymous, posed the following question: “a world shaped by peace and harmony among the people of all positive paths.” Are they all the way …

Many Paths, One Way: Balancing Religious Commitment with Spiritual Diversity Read More »

Get a Centering Prayer “Affirmations” Bookmark

Friends, as you can see from this photo, I have a new bookmark and I’d love to send a couple of them to you. While one side of the bookmark …

Get a Centering Prayer “Affirmations” Bookmark Read More »

Online Retreat: Praying with Julian of Norwich (May 14-15, 2021)

Julian of Norwich was a 14th century mystic and author who, even in her own lifetime, was renowned as a visionary and spiritual director. She was the first woman to …

Online Retreat: Praying with Julian of Norwich (May 14-15, 2021) Read More »

Online Day of Reflection for Patrons: Julian of Norwich (May 8, 2021)

Four times a year I offer an online Quiet Day/Day of Reflection for the generous patrons who support the Anamchara website/blog/knowledge base through Patreon. The next such quiet day will …

Online Day of Reflection for Patrons: Julian of Norwich (May 8, 2021) Read More »

James Martin: Learning to Pray

“Everyone can pray” is the hopeful and helpful opening message of Learning to Pray, the new book from bestselling Jesuit author James Martin. But he knows that many people don’t …

James Martin: Learning to Pray Read More »

A Dream About A High School Library and Standing Up For What’s Right

Last night, I had the following dream. I woke up and wrote the dream down, and here is the unedited transcript of what I wrote: Dream 1/31/21-2/1/21 I was back …

A Dream About A High School Library and Standing Up For What’s Right Read More »

An Interview With the Georgia Writers’ Association

Earlier today I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Terri Dudenhoeffer of the Georgia Writers’ Association for their “Q&A Sessions with Georgia Authors.” I’ve had the good fortune to …

An Interview With the Georgia Writers’ Association Read More »

Online Day of Reflection: Thomas Merton (April 24, 2021)

Thomas Merton is one of the towering figures of contemplative spirituality over the last century. This Trappist monk was a gifted writer and a brilliant interpreter of the Christian spiritual …

Online Day of Reflection: Thomas Merton (April 24, 2021) Read More »

Latest Articles


What Are You Wondering About Today? Filter by categories Clear Results Community Resources Glossary History of Mysticism Media Miscellaneous Topics Mystical Locations Mystical Theology Overview of Christian Mysticism Profiles of …

Divinization Read More »


What Are You Wondering About Today? Filter by categories Clear Results Community Resources Glossary History of Mysticism Media Miscellaneous Topics Mystical Locations Mystical Theology Overview of Christian Mysticism Profiles of …

Deification Read More »


Theosis comes from the Greek θέωσις and literally means “divine state” — Theo (God, divinity) + osis (state or condition). Think of words like theology (God-talk) and gnosis (a state of knowledge) to understand how the word is constructed.

Read More »

Centering Prayer

Centering Prayer is a contemporary method of Christian spiritual practice that is based on teachings from ancient Christian mystics. It recognizes silence and stillness as doorways into prayer and intimacy with God.

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Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation

I have a wonderful and affectionate regard for Washington, DC’s Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation. It may not be as widely known as Contemplative Outreach International or the Center for Action and Contemplation, but Shalem still has a global reach, offers a distinctive and beautiful approach to contemplative spirituality, and — most significant for me — was the setting where I was introduced to contemplative practice and to the ministry of spiritual direction.

Read More »

And Where, Exactly, Does Mysticism “Happen”?

When I was studying journalism in school, I learned that a good reporter seeks to ask some or all of these simply questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How? So when I began to work on the articles for this website — for exploring the mystical life — it only seemed reasonable to begin with those same six questions.

Read More »

Do We Lose Our Identity When We Become One with God?

So much of the language of the New Testament, and of so many of the mystics (at least in the Christian tradition), is language of love. God is love (or as I like to say, “Love-with-a-capital-L”). We love because God first loved us. God’s love is poured into our hearts.

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So contemplation, mystically speaking, is one type of prayer. And the Catechism definition gives us a pretty good way of understanding this unique dimension of communication with God.

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Mysticism is the dimension of spirituality that goes deeper than belief, doctrine or dogma. It recognizes that spiritual reality cannot ever be fully comprehended by the limitations of human thought, language or logic.

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Contemplative Outreach

If you want to learn the Centering Prayer method of silently consenting to God’s presence and action in your life, explore the psychology and theology of such prayer, learn about related practices such as lectio divina, and find a community of like-minded persons who can support you in establishing and maintaining a daily silent prayer practice, then Contemplative Outreach is for you.

Read More »

Evelyn Underhill’s Historical Sketch of Mysticism

This essay originally appeared in Evelyn Underhill’s Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness (1911). As that book is now in the public domain, and as this article is an excellent best brief summary of Christian mysticism, at least through the 18th century (with some consideration of non-Christian mystics as well), I’m publishing it here for the benefit of the readers of this site.

What is the Best Church for Christian Mysticism and Contemplation?

What is the best church for someone interested in contemplative practice? Is it better to be anchored in one tradition, or to resist affiliation with any one tradition, in the interest of maintaining an openness to God’s wisdom and guidance wherever it may arise?

Read More »

In every heart there is a place of infinite longing.

— Carl McColman


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