Recently I met with a group of Aboriginal women in Redfern to explore how Quest for Life will work with them on their healing journey. One of the groups involved is led by Aunty Rhonda and is a women’s wellbeing circle. At the start of each group they read this deeply moving reading. They take it in turns to each read a passage. I was deeply touched and humbled by this experience and have asked Aunty Rhonda for permission to share it with you.
I suggest you take a quiet moment out of your day, breathe deeply and read. Please share your thoughts and feelings afterwards. The meaning held within is still unfolding for me moment by moment, day by day. I feel priveledged to be sharing this journey alongside such connected and courageous women.
Dadirri – Aboriginal way- listening to one another
By Miriam Rose Ungenmerr
Dadirri. A special quality. A unique gift of the Aborigina people, is inner deep listening and quiet still awareness. Dadirri recognises the deep spring that is inside us. It is something like what you call contemplation.
The contemplative way of Dadirri spreads over our whole life. It renews us and brings us peace. It makes us feel whole again. In our aboriginal way we learnt to listen from our earliest times. We could not live good and useful lives unless we listened.
We are not threatened by silence. We are completely at home in it. Our Aboriginal way has taught us to be still and wait. We do not try to hurry things up. We let them follow their natural course – like the seasons.
We watch the moon in each of its phases. We wait for the rain to fill our rivers and water the thirsty earth. When twilight comes we prepare for the night. At dawn we rise with the sun. We watch the bush foods and wait for them to open before we gather them. We wait for our young people as they grow; stage by stage, through their initiation ceremonies. When a relation dies, we wait for a long time with the sorrow. We own our grief and allow it to heal slowly. We wait for the right time for our ceremonies and meetings. The right people must be present. Careful preparations must be made. We don’t mind waiting because we want things to be done with care. Sometimes many hours must be spent painting the body before an important ceremony.
We don’t worry. We know that in time and in the spirit of Dadirri (that deep listening and quiet stillness) the way will be made clear.
We are like the tree standing in the middle of a bushfire sweeping through the timber. The leaves are scorched and the tough bark is scarred and burnt, but inside the tree the sap is still flowing and under the ground the roots are still strong. Like that tree we have endured the flames and we still have the power to be reborn.
Our people are used to the struggle and the long waiting. We still wait for the white people to understand us better. We ourselves have spent many years learning about the white man’s ways: we have learned to speak the white man’s language; we have listened to what he had to say. This learning and listening should go both ways. We would like people to take time and listen to us. We are hoping people will come closer. We keep longing for the things we have always hoped for, respect and understanding.
We know that our white brothers and sisters carry their own particular burdens. We believe that if they let us come to them, open their minds and to us we may lighten their burdens. There is a struggle for us but we have not lost our spirit of Dadirri.
There are deep springs within each of us, within this deep spring, which is the very spirit, is a sound. The sound of Deep calling to Deep. The time for rebirth is now. If our culture is alive and strong and respected it will grow. It will not die and our spirit will not die. I believe the spirit of Dadirri that we have to offer will blossom and grow, not just within ourselves but within all.
Edited version adapted from the writings of Miriam Rose Ungenmerr
Shared by Kate vanderVoort
Kate is currently overseeing the development and implementation of the new strategic plan for Quest for Life including developing programs for other organisations, online services, community outreach and facilitator team development.
Kate completed a Bachelor of Social Work and has more than 15 years experience in working in health, cancer and youth related charities and service providers. She has also studied yoga, meditation and a variety of training, presentation and coaching modalities. She facilitated with the Quest for Life Foundation in 1999 – 2000 and has since worked with Quest for Life in business development and fundraising roles. With more than 12 years experience in leadership and program development roles in the youth sector, Kate has a passion for creating a world in which young people wish to belong, be a part of and contribute to.
Kate has a consulting business – 3 Degrees of Connection (www.3doc.com.au) – and connects people, passions and projects through strategy and social media marketing. She lives in Sydney with her pet rabbit Heff.