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Celtic Conversations with Carl McColman

I am delighted to introduce a new podcast series, Celtic Conversations, inspired by my new book The Soul’s Slow Ripening: 12 Celtic Practices for Seeking the Sacred and my time living in Ireland. I am hosting a series of conversations with authors, artists, and guides about Celtic spirituality. So find a cozy space and pour yourself a cup of tea. (Also available at SoundcloudStitcher and iTunes).

My guest today is Carl McColman and we had a delightful conversation about a universal Celtic spirituality, the three strands of the tradition, a third way that embraces pagan roots and Christian branches, our incarnate and transcendent human nature, hospitality, “at the edge of waiting,”  threshold experiences, and the practice of storytelling.

Carl McColman is a contemplative writer, speaker, retreat leader, catechist and spiritual companion. He is the author of several books, including Befriending SilenceAnswering the Contemplative Call, and The Big Book of Christian Mysticism. He is a life-professed Lay Cistercian (a layperson under formal spiritual guidance of Cistercian monks) affiliated with the Trappist Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia. He also received formation in the practice of Christian spirituality and contemplative leadership through the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation.

Carl regularly leads retreats and speaks on the contemplative life at monasteries and retreat centers, cathedrals, parishes and seminaries. His ministry is ecumenical in scope, and he has also participated in a number of interfaith initiatives. He maintains a website, blogs for Patheos, and is the co-host of a podcast, Encountering Silence.

About his ministry, Carl says, “I help Christians and other seekers respond to the healing love of God through prayer, silence, and discernment, so to embody a joyful life of creativity, service and delight.” He does this by passionately encouraging his audience to embrace contemplative spirituality, to drink from the deep wells of Christian wisdom beginning with scripture and the wisdom of saints and mystics, and to apply such insight to the challenges and concerns of everyday life.

His newest book, An Invitation to Celtic Spirituality: A Little Guide to Mystery, Spirit, and Compassion, will be published this November 2018 by Hampton Roads Publishing.

Carl McColman lives near Atlanta, GA. In addition to his blog, he is active on social media, including Facebook and Twitter.

Carl shared this beautiful poem by Billy Collins to begin our time together:

I pour a coating of salt on the table
and make a circle in it with my finger.
This is the cycle of life
I say to no one.
This is the wheel of fortune,
the Arctic Circle.
This is the ring of Kerry
and the white rose of Tralee
I say to the ghosts of my family,
the dead fathers,
the aunt who drowned,
my unborn brothers and sisters,
my unborn children.
This is the sun with its glittering spokes
and the bitter moon.
This is the absolute circle of geometry
I say to the crack in the wall,
to the birds who cross the window.
This is the wheel I just invented
to roll through the rest of my life
I say
touching my finger to my tongue.
—Billy Collins, “Design” from The Art of Drowning. Copyright © 1995 by Billy Collins

*Opening music track is an excerpt from Simon DeVoil’s song “Water” on his album Heart Medicine (used with kind permission)

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