Holy Interruptions – Afternoon Session

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Morning Session | You are in the Afternoon Session

For the early part of this afternoon, please browse through the collection we’ve provided of readings, poems, art and music.

Choose one to focus on, to pray with, to ponder, to lead you into a place of listening for the knock or the interruption of the Holy.

Record any leading you might have. Feel free to share your thoughts in your online journal space, or perhaps you’ll feel led to sketch in a notebook or even create something out of paint or clay.

Part of how we pay attention is gazing. Notice any images that might surface for you…

Whatever you choose to reflect on, ask yourself these questions:

What do I hear?

What do I see?

What do I feel?

Readings and Poetry

Feel free to meditate on one of these readings.

Friend at Midnight

A parable of Jesus from Luke 11


Batter My Heart

Sonnet XIV by John Donne


Without Brushing My Hair

A poem by Hafiz

I get to you, Beloved,
The more I can see
It is just You and I all alone
In this

I hear
A knock at my door,
Who else could it be,
So I rush without brushing
My hair.

For too
Many nights
I have begged for Your

And what
Is the use of vanity
At this late hour, at this divine season,
That has now come to my folded

If your love letters are true dear God
I will surrender myself to
Who You keep saying


Who Am I

A tale from Attar of Nishapur

The lover knocked at the door of his Beloved.
‘Who knocks?’ said the Beloved from within.
‘It is I,’ said the lover.
‘Then go away. This house will not hold you and me.
The rejected lover went away into the desert.
There he meditated for months on end, pondering the words of the Beloved.
Finally he returned and knocked at the door again.
‘Who knocks?’
‘It is you.’
The door immediately opened.

Art for Contemplation

Feel free to peruse the paintings and images below. To enlarge, click on the image.

Light of the World
painting by Holman Hunt
Backstory: Light of the World

The Annunciation
painting by Henry Ossawa Tanner
(1898 oil on canvas)

Hummingbird in flight
photo by Susan Etherton

Woman’s Wisdom Dancing
by Mary Southard, CSJ
(art may be purchased at marysouthardart.org)

Bird in Solitude
photo by Susan Etherton

Cows grazing near ruins
pastoral scene from Iona, Scotland

Pieta for Darfur and Iraq
sculpture by Frederick Franck

sunlight through webbing


Feel free to browse the music below to assist your contemplation.

The first piece is modern, though seemingly from the eternal past with its tonal effects. It is 15 minutes in length and begins very quietly with the violin. Be with it as you see, hear, and sense The Lark Ascending.

The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Performed here by the London Philharmonic Orchestra

The second piece of music is from the early 16th Century by Christobal de Morales. It combines an a
cappella group, the Hilliard Ensemble, with the soprano saxophone of Jan Garbarek using a chant as the basis for the 7-minute sacred motet. Be with it as you see, hear, and sense a psalm/prayer in your deepest place.

Parce Mihi Domine by Christobal de Morales
performed by Jan Garbarek with the Hilliard Ensemble

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Mid-Afternoon Break

After you have spent a while browsing and meditating on the above poetry, readings, art, images, and music–and followed the directions above–feel free to take a ten or fifteen-minute quiet break.

And then, when you are ready, continue with the afternoon guided meditation.

Final Teaching and Guided Meditation by Ann Kulp (Audio, 13 min)

Welcome to the final session of the day. When you are ready, click on the video for a final teaching time led by Ann Kulp. She will guide you into a time of reflection. Following that, there is a final poem to reflect on to close the day. Take as much time as you need with this material.

Let’s close the day with a final poem.

The Seed Cracked Open

A poem by Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky

It used to be
That when I would wake in the morning
I could with confidence say,
“What am ‘I’ going to

That was before the seed
Cracked open.

Now Hafiz is certain:
There are two of us housed
in this body,
Doing the shopping together in the market and
Tickling each other
While fixing the evening’s food.
Now when I awake
All the internal instruments play the same music:

“God, what love-mischief can ‘We’ do
for the world

After you read, take some time for reflection:

What word or phrase surfaced for you?

Stay with that…. resisting the urge to “do something.” Just rest in whatever seems to connect with your life as it is now.  Record what you would like to remember from this poem …. and this day.

Farewell Blessings

Farewell, friends. It has been lovely to carve out some space to listen, to notice, and to embrace the holiness present in each moment together.

Every blessing,
Ann Kulp

The material on these pages is available for your use through the remainder of the scheduled retreat time. You may go back and revisit any part throughout that time.

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