Why I Wrote a Book About Christian Mystics

Or, What Trent Reznor and John O'Donohue Have in Common

St. Francis: He's Not Just For the Birds

When Peter Gabriel came to Atlanta in 2003, my wife Fran and I were able to get tickets to the concert through a friend who works in the music business. Not only did we have the best seats in the house (right behind and above the soundboard), but we were seated next to a row […]

The Flicker of the Screen

Is the Biggest Threat to Contemplation Hiding in Our Pockets?

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For if there is no dark night of the soul anymore that isn’t lit with the flicker of the screen, then there is no morning of hopefulness either. The above quotation comes from a fascinating, and I believe vitally important, article by Andrew Sullivan, called I Used to Be A Human Being. Originally published in New […]

I’m happy to be returning to the Episcopal Diocese of Florida’s Camp Weed, November 18-19, 2016. Our theme this year will be Celtic Spirituality: the Wisdom of Ireland, Scotland and Northern England. We will celebrate the poetry, prayer, and insight from the great saints of old, like Saint Columba, Saint Brigid, and Saint Kevin, considering how their wit and wisdom can inspire us to live more spiritually meaningful lives today. This retreat is for both clergy and laity, and is open not only to Episcopalians but to all Christians and indeed anyone sincerely interested in Celtic wisdom. Camp Weed is a wonderful conference center, conducive to deep prayer and restful relaxation. Hope to see you there!

Date: November 18, 2016—November 19, 2016
Event: Celtic Spirituality Retreat in Live Oak Florida (near Jacksonville)
Topic: Celtic Spiritualituy
Sponsor: The Bishop's Institute for Ministry and Leadership
Venue: Camp Weed Conference Center
386-364-5250
Location: 11057 Camp Weed Place
Live Oak FL
32060
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.

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One of my editors recently introduced me to Deacon Chris Anderson, a Catholic author from the other side of the country. Deacon Chris is an English professor, a poet, and a spiritual guide. He has a book coming out later this fall on the spirituality of the Examen, called Light When It Comes: Trusting Joy, Facing Darkness, and Seeing God in Everything. Plus he has this delightful video called “Why We Talk About the Weather.” Watch it; you’ll be glad you did.

Who’s Your Favorite Christian Mystic?

Here's a Book to Help You Find Out

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I’m happy to announce that my latest book — Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints and Sages — has been published. The first printing has been delivered to my publisher’s warehouse, and they are now in the process of being shipped out to bookstores (both online and brick & mortar). So your favorite bookseller should have stock […]

Every fall for the last few years I’ve visited the Rock Hill Oratory, and I’m glad to be returning October 14-15! Our theme for this Friday evening-Saturday day retreat is “Finding the Monk Within.” Here’s the event description:

From Thomas Merton to Teresa of Avila, Hildegard of Bingen to Thomas Keating, monks and nuns have been wise and compassionate guides to the spiritual life. We juggle the many demands of life, from family, to work, to church, and somewhere in the middle of it all, we try to respond to the love of God. Maybe what we all need is to “find the monk within” – discover our inner longing for silence, stillness, prayer and meditation.

The Oratory is a peaceful oasis, ideal for an overnight retreat, or great for commuters in the Charlotte metropolitan area. I’m looking forward to seeing you there.

Date: October 14, 2016—October 15, 2016
Event: Finding the Monk Within Retreat
Topic: Finding the Monk Within
Sponsor: The Rock Hill Oratory
Venue: The Rock Hill Oratory
Location: 434 Charlotte Avenue
Rock Hill, SC 29730
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.

To invite me to speak to your community, click here.

Take the biblical phrase: “God is love” (1 John 4:18). Repeat it again and again in your heart. As you do so, savor it, relish it and you will find that it is sweet as honey in your mouth. “God is love … God is love … God is love.” Repeat it at your own pace and rhythm. After some time you may wish to stop repeating it and be silent, without words and without thought. This is a rich silence, a sacred silence, a precious silence, a mystical silence. This is indeed the threshold of mystical prayer. So treasure that silence lovingly until after some time (perhaps after one minute or perhaps after ten minutes) you get all distracted, and then you return to your biblical words: “God is love … God is love … God is love.”

William Johnston
Being in Love (London: HarperCollins, 1988), p. 15.

I’ll be joining two of my favorite authors — Trappist monks Fr. James Behrens OCSO and Br. Elias Marechal OCSO — for an afternoon of contemplative talks and book-signings during the Monastery of the Holy Spirit Fall Festival, October 1, 2016. This free event has lots of attractions, fun for the entire family! Fr. James speaks at 10:30 AM; I speak at 1:30 PM, and Br. Elias at 3 PM. Each of us will sign books after our talks. You can find us in the conference room at the Monastic Heritage Center. Hope to see you there!

Date: October 1, 2016
Time: 01:30-03:00 p.m.
Event: Talk and Booksigning at the Monastery Fall Festival
Sponsor: Monastery of the Holy Spirit
Venue: Monastery of the Holy Spirit
Location: 2625 Highway 212 SW
Conyers, GA 30094

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Atlanta-area bloggers: I hope you’ll come to this new class offered through Emory Continuing Education’s Creative Writing Program. We will explore the most effective way to write for your blog. Perfect for all types of blogging, whether professional/business or personal (or spiritual)! Hope to see you there.

Date: October 6, 2016—November 10, 2016
Event: Blogging: Effective Writing for Your Personal or Professional Blog
Topic: Blogging
Sponsor: Emory Continuing Education
Venue: Emory Continuing Education
Location: Atlanta, GA
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.

To invite me to speak to your community, click here.

I’m teaching a new class for the Emory Continuing Education Creative Writing Progam this fall. It’s a blogging class — with an emphasis on how to write effective and engaging blog posts. It’s ideal for anyone with a blog, whether it’s a business blog or a more personal (or spiritual!) project. If you live in Atlanta and want to explore blogging with me, I hope to see you there.

Event: Blogging: Effective Writing for Your Personal or Professional Blog

Know Who You Are: When God Gazes At You, Who Does God See?

A Contemplative Approach to Self-Awareness

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In Delphi, in ancient Greece, at a famous pagan temple these words were carved above the entrance: γνῶθι σεαυτόν (Gnothi Seauton), which in English means “Know Yourself.” It’s a universal spiritual principle, not just something the Greeks thought up. For example, in 12-Step Programs, the first step to recovery involves admitting to yourself that addiction has made your […]

Want to learn more about the great mystical traditions of the world? If so, then please join me for this evening class through Emory University Continuing Education here in Atlanta. The class begins Monday, October 3, 2016 and runs for five weeks. We’ll be reading Andrew Harvey’s The Essential Mystics: The Soul’s Journey Into Truth. Hope to see you there!

Date: October 3, 2016—October 31, 2016
Time: 07:00-09:00 p.m.
Event: Introduction to World Mysticism
Topic: World Mysticism
Sponsor: Emory Continuing Education
Venue: Emory Continuing Education
Location: Atlanta, GA
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.

To invite me to speak to your community, click here.

The Coptic monks of the desert knew only a single word and a single struggle for designating both the mind and the heart. We tend to separate the mind from the heart. We like to fill the mind; yet, we forget the heart. Or else, we fill the heart with information that should fill the mind. Nevertheless, the two work differently: the mind learns; the heart knows. The mind is educated; the heart believes. The mind is intellectual, speculative; it reads and speaks. The heart is intuitive, mystical; it grows in silence. The two should be held together; and they should be brought together in the presence of God.

John Chryssavgis
In the Heart of the Desert (Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, 2008), p. 76f.

Books for Beginning the Spiritual Journey

Recommended Reading for Anyone Working Work a Spiritual Director

Tools Matter

Here is a list of several books I recommend for spiritual seekers — especially those who are working with a spiritual director or companion. When I recently posted a list of books for spiritual directors, I suppose it only made sense that someone would send along this request: @carlmccolman Thanks for putting this list together! […]

The Mystical Body

Contemplative Spirituality Is More Than Just a 'Head Trip'

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How do we embody the contemplative life? And how does the contemplative life make a difference in our bodies (both as individuals and collectively)? Fran and I had dinner the other night with a charming couple named Ray and Lee. We had met Ray a few weeks earlier when I spoke at a UU Church […]