Exploring Indigenous Spirituality: Insights from the ‘Raising Our Tribal Voice for Justice’ Conference

Exploring Indigenous Spirituality: Insights from the ‘Raising Our Tribal Voice for Justice’ Conference

Spiritual Directors from Dayspring Spirituality Centre in Perth, Heart of Life in Melbourne, and Wellspring in Canberra converged at the Raising Our Tribal Voice for Justice conference, hosted by the University Of Divinity’s School Of Indigenous Studies. Held at St Paschal Chapel across four days from 5-8 February 2024, this conference served as a platform for profound intercultural dialogue and spiritual exploration.

Among the attendees were Cathie Lambert from Dayspring, Clare Shearman from Heart of Life, and Kathy Cave from Wellspring. Their presence was made possible by funding from the Patrick and Anthony Wright Formation and Education Fund.

The role for these three representatives was pivotal. They were tasked with attending and actively participating in the conference, with a particular focus on engaging in a workshop titled “Inner Deep Listening.” This workshop aimed to immerse delegates in the Indigenous perspective of deep listening, offering a unique opportunity to experience spirituality through an Indigenous lens. Additionally, these participants contributed to the spiritual reflection sessions held throughout the conference, allowing them to gain insights and reflections from various Indigenous voices.

The delegates participation in these sessions provided a platform for cross-cultural dialogue and mutual learning, facilitating an exchange of perspectives and experiences. By engaging in deep listening from an Indigenous perspective, Cathie, Clare, and Kathy were able to gain a deeper understanding of Indigenous spirituality and its interconnectedness with Country, culture, and community.

This experience broadened their perspectives and enriched their spiritual journeys, paving the way for potential collaborations and partnerships between their respective spirituality centres and the School of Indigenous Studies.

Through their active engagement in the conference and workshops, Cathie, Clare, and Kathy embodied the spirit of openness, curiosity, and respect essential for meaningful intercultural dialogue.

Post-conference, they shared their reflections, offering profound insights into the transformative power of deep listening and the potential for cross-cultural collaborations to foster greater understanding, empathy, and solidarity.


Spiritual Listening Experience

Clare found enlightenment in understanding the connection between Indigenous spirituality and being on Country, resonating with her own experiences of divine presence in nature. She vividly recounted her sense of belonging and connection to the lands of her forefathers, paralleling the Indigenous bond with their ancestral lands. This connection to place highlighted the universal human longing for rootedness and belonging, transcending cultural boundaries.

Kathy was deeply moved by the prayer dance and challenged by diverse theological views. She admired the Indigenous dancers’ embodiment of ancestral heritage and the humility in their performance, recognising her own spiritual journey mirrored in their expressions. Kathy’s experience underscores the transformative power of embodied worship, bridging cultural divides and fostering a deeper appreciation for Indigenous spirituality.

Cathie found resonance in the Inner Deep Listening session and meditative mornings, fostering a profound connection with nature and fellow attendees. She shared her contemplations on the significance of place and belonging, drawing parallels between her English hometown and the Indigenous connection to Country. Cathie’s reflections highlight the universality of spiritual experiences rooted in nature, transcending cultural and geographical boundaries to evoke a sense of awe and wonder.

Similarities and Differences

Clare identified similarities in the experiential nature of Indigenous spirituality and Heart of Life’s approach to spiritual formation. She noted the emphasis on personal encounters with the divine, transcending traditional doctrinal teachings. This shared emphasis on experiential spirituality underscores the potential for cross-cultural dialogue and mutual enrichment.

Kathy observed parallels between Wellspring’s focus on body-spirit connection and Indigenous prayer dance yet noted distinctions in theology. She grappled with reconciling her theological framework with Indigenous perspectives on God’s immanence in creation. Kathy’s reflections highlight the complexities of theological dialogue and the importance of humility and openness to diverse perspectives.

Cathie found common ground in the importance of silence and attentive observation. She highlighted the need for respectful dialogue and mutual understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous worldviews. Cathie’s insights underscore the importance of creating inclusive respectful spaces for dialogue and learning.

All three Spiritual Director’s parted the conference with renewed vigour to develop joint programs with the School of Indigenous Studies, focusing on Eco-Spirituality and deep listening. They are keen to integrate Indigenous spirituality content and perspectives into Spiritual Companioning and other courses, fostering cross-cultural competency and appreciation. They hold a commitment to decolonising theological education to ensure Indigenous voices are centered and valued in the pursuit of justice and reconciliation.

We thank Clare, Cathie, and Kathy for their valuable insights gained from their conference attendance, which have the power to inform and transform theological education and practice, fostering greater understanding, empathy, and solidarity across cultural and spiritual divides.