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Something made a difference - what was it?

For the past thirty years, we've had a group of about fifteen house sparrows living in our roof. We lived together in harmony and grew quite fond of them. One night, we were awakened by a soft noise in the room. It was summer, and we had the windows open. To our surprise, a small sparrow had flown into the room. My wife, who is the bird whisperer, gently caught the little bird and held it close to the open window. However, the sparrow seemed reluctant to leave her hand. This happened for three nights in a row, and on the last night, my wife decided to let the little bird sleep with us.

By the next morning, we were amazed to see that the tiny wild bird didn't want to leave my wife's hand at all. It looked at us as if it was pleading to stay with us. Later, we learned that the sparrow had sought refuge from a roof rat that had driven away the rest of its group.

For much too brief a moment, we could feel the connection we share with all living beings as this wild creature sought comfort with us. Although the moment was fleeting, the memory of it will always stay with us. It was a unique and special encounter with another being.

During the past eighteen months, I have participated in four events that deeply touched me. I presided over two funerals, attended a family weekend at a game park, and recently celebrated the seventieth birthday of a close friend.

Reflecting on these four occasions, I now realize they shared an indescribable quality that connected them. Each event left us with a profound sense of encounter. We connected with others in a way that was different from our usual interactions, and we also felt a rare connection with God. These were not just ordinary events; they were special moments of togetherness. There was an intangible presence that touched everyone involved. We truly had an encounter - like we had with the little sparrow.

In the depths of our existence, where thoughts roam freely and emotions intertwine, there exists an ongoing search for meaning and purpose. We yearn for understanding and seek wisdom to navigate the complex maze of life. Somewhere during these events, most of us who participated, touched that meaning, that purpose. As the apostle Paul described it, we were "of one mind."

For a brief moment, most of those present transcended the limitations of their own human understanding and tapped into a divine wellspring of insight and compassion. I believe that, for a moment, the majority perceived the world through a lens of love, empathy, and divine wisdom. And in that moment, we created lifelong memories.

I have officiated many funerals, attended numerous family gatherings, and participated in countless birthday celebrations. So, why were these four experiences so memorable? Why do the photos from those moments capture a profound spiritual joy radiating from everyone? Why do these encounters stand out?

I found the answer during the recent weekend celebration of my friend's seventieth birthday. Sixteen of his friends and family members joined together in a beautiful location in the Drakensberg, some traveling over a thousand kilometers from Kenya, others driving from the Cape to honor his life. We calculated that the combined years of friendships and marriages in that room exceeded three centuries. Every friendship had been forged in the crucible of Christian missionary work, Christian life, Christian business, and Christian family life.

We realized that we shared a deep longing for God, a profound understanding of the indwelling Christ, a love for each other that surpassed all previous experiences, and an unprecedented sense of other-centeredness. Love permeated the air, evident in our deep conversations, the tributes we paid to God and the life we were celebrating, and in our shared meals and worship. Love was even present in the surrounding beauty of Kamberg, the excitement sparked by a flock of twenty vultures, and the thrill of spotting a bearded vulture among them.

Laughter filled the air, tears were shed, and we discovered an indescribable bond that surpassed any previous experience. This birthday celebration was simply the reason for souls from all walks of life to gather, bound together by an unconditional love we couldn't have anticipated. We were fulfilling God's purposes by manifesting the inner life and dance of the Trinity, and it was truly good. We were all loving well.

We had the mind of Christ.

Paul defined this experience in his letter to the Corinthians: "Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ. (1Co 2:16) Together, we have the mind of Christ. When we flow in the Spirit like that, the "mind of Christ" manifests amongst us and we are the recipients of that grace.

And, to the Church at Philippi:

"Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. (Php 2:1-7)

Someone wrote this about the mind of Christ:

"To have the mind of Christ means transcending the boundaries of our own egos and surrendering to a higher power that surpasses our finite comprehension. It means recognizing that we are connected to a greater consciousness, a divine intelligence that permeates every fiber of our being. We are not alone in our journey but part of a grand tapestry woven by the hands of a loving Creator.

In the mind of Christ, we find solace and guidance. We discover a reservoir of peace that surpasses all understanding, a serene oasis amidst life's chaos. It is in this sacred space that we can discern the true nature of our existence and catch a glimpse of the hidden beauty that lies beneath the surface".

Let us embark on this transformative journey, opening ourselves to the whispers of the divine. Let us quiet the noise of our own thoughts and surrender to a higher wisdom. In doing so, we will discover that the mind of Christ is not a distant concept but a living reality within us, a guiding light in the darkest of nights.

We are not mere mortals but bearers of the divine spark. In every thought, word, and action, let us strive to reflect the mind of Christ. For in doing so, we discover our true purpose and participate in the sacred dance of creation."

I couldn't even try to improve upon that. What I know is that I will recognise it earlier when it happens again.

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Joe de Swardt
Joe de Swardt
Jul 23, 2023

Thank you!!

Thank you!

You captured it so well.


Hagan Nash
Hagan Nash
Jul 17, 2023

This is profound and yet so simple. Thank you for sharing the experiences and showing that this beautiful life can be a sacred dance of creation if we look for it.

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