What Richard Foster and Dallas Willard were to my generation – prime tour guides to the spiritual life – I hope and believe Carl McColman will be for the next generation. If you don’t know about him and his work, you should.Brian D. McLaren
Author of A Generous Orthodoxy and other books
NEW from Carl McColman:
Coming in September 2019! Unteachable Lessons: Why Wisdom Can’t Be Taught — and Why That’s Okay
We speak of spirituality as a “journey,” which implies not only a destination toward which we travel, but countless adventures encountered along the way. The journey is the destination—both at once. We may all be trying to get to the heart of God, but there are infinite ways to get there.
Can wisdom collected along the pilgrim path even be captured in words, codified into a book? Probably not. And why do the wisest books refuse to offer glib formulas or step-by-step instructions for happiness or enlightenment? Why are the great spiritual classics mostly just an invitation to keep our eyes, ears—and especially hearts—open?
Because we’re often stumbling on miracles while we’re looking for something else.
Using engaging and disarming stories from his own life, Carl McColman, a leading author of books in spirituality, gently leads readers toward a recognition that although the wisdom of the past is worth reading, hearing or reading others’ experience of God is ultimately no substitute for opening our own eyes, ears, and hearts to God.
Carl McColman’s first gift is his commitment to write about things that matter. His second gift is his ability to write about them with clarity and warmth, enticing his readers to go places with him that we might otherwise not have gone. In Unteachable Lessonshe 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 on the unknown way.” — Barbara Brown Taylor, author of Holy Envy
ALSO BY CARL McCOLMAN:
Now available! An Invitation to Celtic Wisdom draws on myth, folklore, poetry, and the tales of Celtic saints and heroes, to explore the spiritual tradition of the Celtic peoples — a tradition rooted in hospitality, love of nature, and a mystical sense of the presence of God. The Celtic way is more important than ever in our increasingly fractured and troubled times. It’s not just for people who have Irish, Scottish or Welsh ancestry — this is a universal wisdom for all people.
An Invitation to Celtic Wisdom is divided into three parts:
Part One: The Celtic Mystery: we begin by exploring the mystery inherent in the Celtic spiritual path with a brief discussion of the three streams of Celtic spirituality and an introduction to core ideas like thin places, holy wells, and “the edge of waiting.”
Part Two: The Celtic Saints: we go deeper by discovering how the faith of the Celtic saints is rooted in the desert spirituality of the early Christian tradition. We look closely at several Celtic saints, including Patrick, Brigid, and Brendan.
Part Three: Walking the Celtic Path: How do we “live” Celtic wisdom in our time? Through ageless values like hospitality, soul-friendship, storytelling, and the quest for the grail, we answer the invitation to make Celtic wisdom our own.
ALSO BY CARL McCOLMAN:
The Little Book of Christian Mysticism invites you to delve into the writings of the great contemplatives and mystics of the past two thousand years. Featuring over three hundred quotations from great mystics from Biblical times to the present day, The Little Book of Christian Mysticism provides a user-friendly, insightful, and potentially life-changing introduction to the essential teachings of the greatest mystics in the western wisdom traditions, past and present. In this inspirational anthology you’ll find gems of wisdom from Francis of Assisi, Hildegard of Bingen, Howard Thurman, Evelyn Underhill, Meister Eckhart, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, and Julian of Norwich, among many others. Readers can use this book to initiate themselves into this visionary and ecstatic spiritual lineage, and they can also use it as a book of daily meditations. Small enough to fit in one’s pocket or handbag, this is truly a user-friendly introduction to this venerable body of wisdom. Together with Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints and Sages and The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, this completes Carl McColman’s trilogy of books celebrating Christian mysticism for our time.
Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints and Sages celebrates the many types of mystics, visionaries, wisdom keepers, and non-dualists whose spiritual insight and perceptive teachings have illuminated the Christian tradition for the past two thousand years. Looking at 108 mystics from Biblical times to the present day, this user-friendly guide shows how the spiritual masters of the western tradition provide a variety of paths into the transforming heart of God. Everyone needs teachers and companions to guide and nurture us in developing rich interior lives — as we seek to respond to the beatifying, deifying love of God. The mystics, whose legacy includes sublime poetry, fascinating autobiographies, and potentially life-changing teachings, can help anyone find greater love, purpose, and a deeper sense of God’s presence. More than just a history book or an encyclopedia, Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints and Sages is a curated celebration of western spiritual wisdom, making it accessible for all seekers today.
Befriending Silence: Discovering the Gifts of Cistercian Spirituality explores the spirituality of Cistercian monasteries, based on Carl’s experience as a Lay Cistercian, under the spiritual guidance of Trappist monks. For centuries the deeply contemplative and mystical spirituality of the monasteries was only accessible to the monks and nuns who devoted their lives to this ancient way of life. But in the years following the Vatican II council, the beautiful spirituality of the Cistercian path, grounded in values such as silence, stability, humility, lifelong conversion, and compassion, has been made available to the entire people of God like never before. In Befriending Silence Carl offers a step-by-step introduction to the beauty and simplicity of the Cistercian way, making this deeply spiritual wisdom tradition accessible to anyone who would like to be inspired to find their own closer walk with God. Each chapter of the book includes questions for personal reflection or group discussion, and a spiritual exercise designed to make the wisdom of the Cistercians come alive for the serious seeker.
Answering the Contemplative Call: First Steps on the Mystical Path invites you to reflect on the steps anyone can take to begin (or deepen) a regular spiritual practice. Informed by the wisdom of the great Christian mystics, this accessible and user-friendly book illustrates how wisdom from the past can be relevant to seekers today. The mystical life is a life of transformation, and this book celebrates how responding to the desire for a closer sense of God’s presence — the “contemplative call” — means entering into a God-centered process that truly can change us forever. Christian author and activist Brian D. McLaren praised the book, saying “What Frommers, Rick Steves, and Lonely Planet are to travel guides for physical locales, Carl McColman is fast becoming for the spiritual journey. There is so much that recommends this delightful guide — Carl’s own depth of experience, his wonderful ability to bring in apt quotations from the great contemplative saints of history, his ability to be both simple and deep without ever becoming simplistic or murky. As I read, I kept thinking of friends with whom I want to share this treasure — a travel guide to an adventurous journey that will last forever.”
The Big Book of Christian Mysticism: The Essential Guide to Contemplative Spirituality looks at one of the most misunderstood aspects of Christian spirituality: the mystical tradition, a wisdom lineage which stresses the love of God for humanity created in the Divine image and likeness — a tradition of prayer, meditation and contemplation, in which the mystery of Divine Love leads to the splendor of enlightenment, personal and social transformation, and spiritual joy. But what is mysticism, and why is it not more commonly spoken of in Christian circles? In the 20th century an eminent Catholic theologian named Karl Rahner famously said, “The Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not exist at all.” In The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, author Carl McColman reflects on what Rahner could mean — and how mystical spirituality could be a blessing not just for saints or nuns and monks, but for all Christians, and indeed for anyone interested in profound spiritual transformation. Caroline Myss calls this book “a masterpiece of scholarship and wisdom,” while Anglican author Cynthia Bourgeault calls it “a wise and supportive guidebook for those going deeper on the Christian mystical path… what makes it sing is the authenticity of the author’s own contemplative journey.”
The Lion, the Mouse and the Dawn Treader: Spiritual Lessons from C. S. Lewis’ Narnia celebrates how teaching about the Christian contemplative life is “encoded” within the pages of one of C. S. Lewis’s most charming books, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (in the beloved Narnia series). Lewis built his illuminating story — of a ship sailing through enchanted waters to the very end of the world — around the key elements of the Christian life: baptism, communion, struggling against injustice and temptation, and (as the story progresses) moving into deeper wisdom teachings centered around the experience of silence, the encounter with darkness, and finally, the breathtaking splendor of enlightenment. Eventually the Dawn Treader sails beyond a place where the stars sing, into a luminous world of wonders presided over by Aslan, the Divine Lover. Carl McColman’s The Lion, the Mouse and the Dawn Treader helps readers of all ages to discern the often subtle spiritual teachings found within Lewis’s charming (and deceptively simple) story. Popular Catholic author James Martin, SJ, praises this book and its author: “By turns playful, provocative and profound, McColman asks us to ‘become like little children’ in order to understand some very adult lessons.”
366 Celt: A Year and a Day of Celtic Wisdom and Lore offers the reader a series of daily meditations grounded in Celtic spirituality, written in an inclusive way that can speak to everyone — you don’t have to have Celtic ancestry to enjoy this book. Written in 2004, it represents the culmination of years of study into both Christian and pre-Christian dimensions of Celtic spirituality. The wisdom of the Celts is poetic, mythic, celebratory, and mystical in the best sense of the word. It seamlessly weaves together insights from what the Irish Benedictine monk Seán Ó Duinn calls the “three streams” of neolithic, mythical, and Christian dimensions of wisdom. The result: a truly inclusive, hope-filled, and inspirational series of meditations, rooted in the mysteries of the Spirit, a reverence for nature, and compassion for humanity. This book is written in such a way that it serves beautifully as a daily devotional, but works just as well as an introductory guidebook to Celtic mysticism.