In my reading and reflection this week I have come across some interesting concepts… or different ways of expressing old concepts and ideas…. They have helped me to see the scriptures for this week in a new way.
Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann (of the Ngangikurungkurr people from Daly River in the Northern Territory) writes – “Dadirri is a unique gift of the Australian Aboriginal people, it recognises the deep spring that is inside us… The contemplative way of dadirri spreads over our whole life. It renews us and brings us peace. It makes us feel whole again… Our Aboriginal culture has taught us to be still and to wait. We do not try to hurry things up. We let them follow their natural course – like the seasons…we wait for the right time…we wait on God, too…We know that in time and in the spirit of dadirri (that deep listening and quiet stillness) God’s way will be clear.”
It seems to me that this truth was understood by both Eli and Nathaniel … Eli told Samuel to return to his room … to wait and to listen, truly listen. This was a time of deep inner listening into which God spoke and was understood.
What I didn’t understand was the link with the gospel… because I didn’t understand the significance of the place where Nathaniel was sitting. A fig tree is about fifteen feet tall and its branches spread out about 25 feet in width like an umbrella, creating a space that is almost like a private room. In biblical times, if someone wanted to get away from the chaos of a one-room house, he or she would sit under the fig tree. They would sit there to read scripture or to reflect or to pray. Sitting under a fig tree was a sign of seeking and praying for God’s living presence. It was a place of “Dadirri”, of deep listening.
This church looks nothing like a fig tree. But isn’t that why we’re here? We have come together here with the yearning to know hear the living word of God. We come away from the chaos of the world around us so we can read scripture, reflect, and pray. We know that the “church” is made up of the people of God… not the building, but the value of the building is that it is a place to come apart with God a place of deep listening… a place of “Dadirri”.