About Carl

Julian of Norwich said, "The Fullness of Joy is to Behold God in All." That's a great philosophy of life.

Your humble blogger, standing in front of Julian of Norwich’s cell, in Norwich (of course), England.

Hi, I’m Carl McColman.

If we were meeting in person, the polite thing for me to do would be to ask about you first, before telling you about me. It’s hard to do that on a web page, but maybe I can speculate.

  • Are you someone who is drawn to the beauty of language, yet recognize that the deepest mysteries of life take us to a place where words can never go?
  • Maybe you are active in your church, but can’t quite figure out how to put “Christian” and “spirituality” together.
  • Or maybe you have a troubled relationship with religion, but still yearn in your heart for a deeper connection to the love of God?

I hear you.

Welcome to my world; I’m so glad you’re here.

I won’t promise to solve all your spiritual problems — I wouldn’t want to, since I believe longing and mystery are essential ingredients to a truly healthy spirituality. But I can promise to be your friend along the way.

My Great Grandfather Spoke Gaelic…

To tell you a bit about me, let me turn to the language of my ancestors: Gaelic.

There are two wonderful Gaelic words that capture who I am — or, at least, who I aspire to be.

One of those words is anamchara (you’ll also see it spelled anam ċara), which means “soul friend.” The other is seanchaí (also spelled shanachie) which means “storyteller.”

There’s a bit of playful paradox here: for a soul friend is a companion in prayer, a co-listener for the silence of God. Meanwhile, a storyteller is a bard, a raconteur, a wordsmith.

I believe that the silence of contemplation, and the words by which we shape our lives and our identities, are not opposed to each other: rather, they belong together like a jewel and its setting, a body and a soul, a lover and the beloved.

We are creatures of language, of thought, of word, of communication. And, by the grace of God, we are creatures of silence, of mystery, of deep wonder and willingness.

So I am a writer. This website is my literary playground, a place where I can post about what I’m reading, what I’m pondering, what confuses me, and what I’m writing — whether it’s for a book I’m working on, or just a random train of thought for the moment.

But I’m also a person who prays, however imperfectly. So much of what I write about involves silence and mysticism, meditation and contemplation, and prayer and spirituality — whether religious, or inter-religious, or maybe even just spirituality-in-itself.

As Pete the Cat would say, “It’s all good!”

I Write. I Pray. I Talk. I Lead Retreats. I Wonder (A Lot).

I love to stand up in front of rooms full of people and talk about God and prayer and silence. Pretty good for an introvert, huh?

I’m the author of over a dozen books, and I regularly speak and lead retreats hither and yon.

So this website has a marketing piece to it as well. I humbly hope you will consider purchasing (and more importantly, reading) one or more of my books.

I also hope to meet you at one of my upcoming retreats, talks, or classes. And if you are an event planner — well, can we talk?

Over the years I’ve come to appreciate that what I love most about this website isn’t the business I generate from it, although of course that’s important. What matters most of all is the chance to interact with people like you, who share my love for Christian mysticism and spirituality. Not only through what I write, but especially by engaging with your questions and comments, I get to be who I believe God has called me to be — that is, a soul friend and a storyteller.

So if you would like a spiritual friend, someone who loves to play with language, then I hope you’ll enjoy it here.

Ways for Us To Stay in Touch

If you subscribe to my email list I’ll let you know when I post new articles — there’s no set schedule, it could be three times one week and then two weeks will go by. But it’s the best way we can stay in touch.

You can use Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter to stay connected as well.

If you find that you really enjoy this site, please consider becoming a patron — or even more important, please hold it (and me) in your daily prayers.

However, if you’re reading this page it’s probably because you’re new here. So let’s start at the beginning. To begin with, here are a few of my more popular posts:

If you don’t know about Carl McColman and his work, you should.Brian D. McLaren
Author of A Generous Orthodoxy

A little bit more about me.

I am a life-professed Lay Cistercian — a layperson under formal spiritual guidance at a Trappist monastery. I am not a monk, but monks are my spiritual teachers and guides. As a Lay Cistercian, I bring the wisdom of the monastery that has been passed down through the centuries, and make it available to the public at large.

Before I entered formation as a Lay Cistercian, I first learned the practice of contemplation with the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation.

The Little Book of Christian Mysticism

I’ve written several books. My newest one, The Little Book of Christian Mysticism, will be published in April 2018. Previoius works include Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints and SagesBefriending SilenceAnswering the Contemplative Call and The Big Book of Christian Mysticism. In addition to this blog, my writing has appared on websites The Huffington Post, Patheos, and Contemplative Journal.

I work part-time for my parish, where my wife and I co-direct the RCIA program: a faith-formation journey for adults wishing to enter the Catholic Church.

I frequently speak about the spiritual life at retreat centers, churches, and academic institutions. An important part of my ministry is helping individuals and communities reclaim the heritage of Christian contemplative spirituality — by celebrating the lives and teachings of the Christian mystics, the practice of silent prayer, and the revival of ancient practices like lectio divina, the liturgy of the hours, and spiritual accompaniment.

In 2017 two friends and I began producing a podcast called Encountering Silence — click on the link to learn more.

I love to interact with wisdom seekers of all faiths. I find that my faith in Christ is nurtured by a positive engagement with the contemplative teachings of the world’s great wisdom traditions. My interfaith work has included the study of Buddhist meditation, co-leading an interfaith contemplative group in Atlanta for several years, and authoring several books about Celtic and nature-based spirituality.

Carl, Fran, and Rhiannon, March 28, 2011.

Carl, Fran, and Rhiannon, March 28, 2011.

I’m married to Fran, an amazing woman who is a photographer and artist. Our wonderful daughter, Rhiannon, passed away in 2014 after a lifelong battle with kidney and liver disease. So now our earthly “family” consists of several very well-pampered cats!

To learn more about me and my work, visit these links:

Giving a talk on Celtic Spirituality at the Hill of Tara in Ireland.

Giving a talk on Celtic Spirituality at the Hill of Tara in Ireland, back in 2003. Not the most flattering picture of me, but I love Ireland so you get to see it!


Author of Befriending Silence, Christian Mystics, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Answering the Contemplative Call, and other books. Catechist. Retreat leader. Speaker. Professed Lay Cistercian.