Next Friday I will have the privilege of being part of a conversation between Laurence Freeman and Aboriginal elder Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr in Sydney. The idea is to explore the connections between Christian contemplation and 'dadirri' - which Miriam-Rose has described as 'inner, deep listening and quiet, still awareness'. Miriam-Rose speaks of practising dadirri particularly when she is in nature - when she sits on a riverbank or walks through trees.
The sense of dadirri was present for me this Wednesday. The morning was foggy and cold, but I was drawn to walk on Black Mountain. We'd heard recently of a walk starting half-way up the mountain and I went looking for it.
Well, I don't think I found the one I'd been told of, but I entered instead upon another one - Lakeview Walk - which headed back quite steeply down the hill.
Despite spending most of my life in Canberra, I haven't spent much time on Black Mountain. I was struck by how much it felt at the centre of things. The sound of traffic on the roads below was constant, but that noise had the effect of making the silence of the bush in the foggy, still morning seem very 'loud'. As if this mountain is a monumental, still centre around which our busy lives swirl.
The view was big - across to Mount Painter to the west, and across the Arboretum and the lake to the south and east.
I sat for quite a while on a (cold) rock at the edge of the path, overlooking the lake. I felt as though I began to participate in the stillness of the place. Two crows appeared - and one jumped into a small bush quite close to me, deliberately breaking off a stick in its beak. They were gathering nesting material - but I'd never before seen one 'harvest' a stick from a bush. Later, a dark little wallaby went past - I don't think he even knew I was there.
Allowed to be and allowing to be. 'There is no need of words', says Miriam-Rose. 'A big part of dadirri is listening'.