The Joy of Self-Discovery

Hi! My name is Malia, and I have recently enrolled in the Australian Catholic University’s (ACU) Clemente Program. This program is a “ground-breaking university course for all Australians experiencing disadvantage and social isolation”, providing the necessary resources and opportunities to help support making a difference in people’s lives through tertiary education (Australian Catholic University, 2019).

The unit we are currently covering is, An Introduction to Australian Literature; looking at the writings of various Australian authors and authors who speak about Australia and its culture in their work.

I would like to share with you, just a short reflection I had on Judith Wright’s poem, “The Wattle – Tree”, that we were introduced to in our class last week.
Upon reading this poem, I instantly reflected on the spirituality of the author, contemplating about the journey of self-discovery seen through the lens of a Wattle tree.

In the first stanza, the tree shares its knowledge of “the four truths” it needs to have life: “earth, water, air, and the fire of the sun”, and the “four truths” it holds within itself that gives it its identity: “root, limb and leaf unfold out of the seed”.
With this basic understanding of oneself, the tree “dreams it has a voice”, a voice that can be found when one molds the elements of what gives it life with its own characteristics into “one word of gold”, and that “gold” is joy.

The second stanza dramatically illustrates a yearning to find this “word” that would bring it joy. A joy that is everlasting.
And so begins a time of transformation, where the tree reflects on itself and gives itself time and love, “perfectly and passionately”, to renew itself into a greater sense of self-discovery.
This time of transformation takes place in the third stanza, where the author purposely adds spaces between each line, to emphasise the time the tree give itself for reflection on the elements that gives it life.

And then finally, in the final stanza, a different tone is felt as the tree finds joy in its journey of self discovery.
“Now from the world’s four elements I make my immortality;
it shapes within the bud.
Yes, now I bud, and now at last I break
into the truth I had no voice to speak
into a million images of the Sun, my God.”
This “word” the tree was looking for was a joy in itself. And it was found by reflecting on the things that give it life, naming what their desires were, and then with self-care acknowledging the many gifts and talents one can give to others when trusting in the one that creates the basic necessities for life… and that is God!

– Australian Catholic University website, accessed 8th March 2019.
– The Wattle Tree, Judith Wright.

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