Staff began the school year before students returned with a Chapel service in which we reflected on ‘going deeper; having a greater consciousness’. Consciousness is hard to define but relates to being aware, having sensitivity and openness to deeper things; its finding a focus – even for a moment - amidst the incessant wandering of our thoughts. The invitation of faith is into this deeper consciousness; the Christian church has a long tradition in the practice of contemplative spirituality.
I heard an echo of this in the wonderful acceptance speech of the Senior Australian of the Year on Australia Day eve. Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann is an Aboriginal Artist and Educator, and was the Territory's first fully qualified Aboriginal teacher.
The foundation in her name that her award acknowledges draws heavily upon Dadirri [Da-did-ee] in Aboriginal spirituality. As Miriam-Rose described:
“We’ve been smothered so many times with layers and layers of stuff that we face day-in, day-out, the challenges we face and sometimes we forget who we are, then we get all upset and worried and people talk about mental health. We gotta slow down. Dadirri is deep listening, silent, still awareness. You’ve got to find your spirit because if you don’t you’re just this being that’s drifting through this life journey of yours.
Seeking a place of quiet and calm to allow moments of reflection amidst busy student lives will be a feature of their participation in Chapel this year. We find a hope in the words of the ancient prophet Isaiah, “In quietness and confidence in God you will find strength” [Isaiah 30:15].
Rev Phil Hoffmann