Dag Hammarskjöld’s Spiritual Pilgrimage (by Henry P. Van Dusen)

Article Title: Dag Hammarskjöld’s Spiritual Pilgrimage (by Henry P. Van Dusen)

Submitted by: Craig Lock

Key words: Dag Hammarskjold, spiritual beliefs, ‘Markings’, the spiritual path, spiritual growth, United Nations

Web Site: http://theologytoday.ptsem.edu/jan1965/v21-4-article3.htm

Submitter’s web Sites:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=la_B005GGMAW4_sr?rh=i%3Abooks&field-author=Craig+Lockhttp://www.amazon.com/-/e/B005GGMAW4 http://www.creativekiwis.com/amazon.htmland http://goo.gl/vTpjk

The submitter’s blogs (with extracts from his various writings: articles, books and new manuscripts) are at

www.peacepursuit.wordpress.com

Other Articles by Craig Lock are available at: http://www.ideamarketers.com/library/profile.cfm?writerid=981 + http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles.html (Personal growth, self help, writing, internet marketing, spiritual, ‘spiritual writings’ (how ‘airey-fairey’), words of inspiration and money management, how boring now, craig!)

Publishing Guidelines:

This piece is a short extract of the full article on the writings of Dag Hammerskjold from the folllowing web site: http://theologytoday.ptsem.edu/jan1965/v21-4-article3.htm

I have recently been so inspired by the life of this amazing man (that I’m researching), that I’m sharing this piece on the www. If published, please acknowledge the writer and source. All my other articles and extracts from my various writings may be freely published, electronically or in print.

“We share what we know, so that we all may grow.”

#

Dag Hammarskjöld’s Spiritual Pilgrimage (by Henry P. Van Dusen)

Dag Hammarskjöld (July 29, 1905 – September 18, 1961) was a remarkable man, who won (posthumously) the Nobel Peace Prize in 1961. UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold is a great example of how worldly power can be driven by spiritual conviction. He had an infallible faith in the success of his various endeavours.

After his death, the publication in 1963 of his “journal” entitled ‘Markings’ revealed the inner man as few documents ever have. The entries in this manuscript, Hammarskjöld wrote in a covering letter to his literary executor, constitute ” a sort of White Book concerning my negotiations with myself – and with God. The entries themselves are spiritual truths given artistic form. ‘Markings ‘contains many references to death, perhaps none more explicit or significant than this portion from the opening entries, written when he was a young man:

“Tomorrow we shall meet, Death and I -. And he shall thrust his sword Into one who is wide awake”

However, the solution of his problem was discovered in a firmer dedication and in meditation upon the dedication of Christ:

“A young man, adamant in his committed life. The one who was nearest to him relates how, on the last evening, he arose from supper, laid aside his garments, and washed the feet of his friends and disciples – an adamant young man, alone as he confronted his final destiny… “He had assented to a possibility in his being, of which he had had his first inkling when he returned from the desert. If God required anything of him, he would not fall. Only recently, he thought, had he begun to see more clearly, and to realize that the road of possibility might lead to the Cross. He knew, though, that he had to follow it, still uncertain as to whether he was indeed ‘the one who shall bring it to pass, but certain that the answer could only be learned by following the road to the end. The end might be a death without significance – as well as being the end of the road of possibility…” “Is the hero of this immortal, brutally simple drama in truth the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world’? Absolutely faithful to a divined possibility-in that sense the Son of God, in that sense the sacrificial Lamb, in that sense the Redeemer. A young man, adamant in his commitment, who walks the road of possibility to the end without self-pity or demand for sympathy, fulfilling the destiny he has chosen-even sacrificing affection and fellowship when the others are unready to follow him-into a new fellowship.”23 IV

In the first days of 1952, on the eve of his wholly unforseen election as Secretary General of the United Nations, he declared:

” ‘Thy will be done-‘ To let the inner take precedence over the outer, the soul over the world-wherever this may lead you….” “What I ask for is absurd: that life shall have a. meaning. What I strive for is impossible: that my life shall acquire a meaning. I dare not believe, I do not see how I shall ever be able to believe: that I am not alone.” That somewhere along the way there was what Hammarskjöld himself considered a decisive turning-point, he himself attests. Looking back perhaps a decade later, on Whitsunday 1961, four short months before the tragic end, he put down what is possibly most important single entry:

“I don’t know Who-or what-put the question, I don’t know when it was put. I don’t even remember answering. But at some moment I did answer Yes to Someone–or Something-and from that hour I was certain that existence is meaningful and that, the fore, my life, in self-surrender, had a goal….” “I came to a time and place where I realized that the Way leads to a triumph which is a catastrophe, and to a catastrophe which is a triumph, that the price for committing one’s life would be reproach, and that the only elevation possible to man lies in the depths of humiliation. After that, the word ‘courage’ lost its meaning, since nothing could be taken from me. “As I continued along the Way, I learned, step by step, word by word, that behind every saying in the Gospels stands one man and one man’s experience. Also behind the prayer that the cup might pass from him and his promise to drink it. Also behind each of the words from the Cross.”25 Certainly, the turning-point came before the beginning of 1953. As though in anticipation of the new, far more demanding, and then unanticipated responsibility to which he was shortly to be summoned, he began to write with new depth, assurance, and power:

“Your prayer has been answered…. God has a use for you, even though what He asks doesn’t happen to suit you at the moment. God, who ‘abases him whom He raises up.'” “Not I, but God in me.” “He who has placed himself in God’s hand stands free vis-à-vis men: he is entirely at his ease with them, because he has granted them the right to judge.”26 V

Those early 1953 entries are undated. But on April 1, Dag Hammarskjöld was notified that he was being asked to lead the United Nations as its Secretary General. Three days before, when anticipatory rumors began to reach Stockholm, he commented: “Nobody would be so crazy as to propose me, and I wouldn’t be so crazy as to accept so impossible a job.” But when the call came, Hammarskjöld acquiesced “that he had no alternative but to accept as a matter of duty.”27

Six days later, still in Stockholm, he entered a saying of Thomas Aquinas: “Their lives grounded in and sustained by God, they are incapable of any kind of pride…. They do all things to the glory of God alone.” Then he added:

“I am the vessel. The draught is God’s. And God is the thirsty one.” “In the last analysis, what does the word ‘sacrifice’ mean? Or even the word ‘gift’? He who has nothing can give nothing. The gift is God’s-to God.” “He who has surrendered himself to it knows that the Way ends on the Cross -even when it is leading him through the jubilation of Gennesaret or the triumphal entry into Jerusalem.” “Except in faith, nobody is humble……. And, except in faith, nobody is proud……. To be, in faith, both humble and proud: that is to live, To know that in God I am nothing, but that God is in me.”28 This is the response of this extraordinary man to possibly the most responsible post on earth. 28

He had at last acquired a serenity of mind for what he had long prayed.”29

There continues the same intimate interweaving of public event and private reflection. On the eve of his epoch-making statement to the U.N. Security Council at the outbreak of the Suez crisis on October 31, 1956, he wrote:

“‘To take Captivity captive.’ It is an idea you are serving–an idea which must be victorious if a mankind worth the name is to survive. “It is this idea which you must help towards victory with all your strength-not the work of human hands which just now give you responsibility and the responsibility-creating chance to further it.”30 And in the tense days which followed:

“Without our being aware of it, our fingers are so guided that pattern is created when the thread gets caught in the web.”31 On December 22, the Suez crisis was resolved. Two days later he noted:

“Your own efforts ‘did not bring it to pass,’ only God -but rejoice if God found a use for your efforts in His work. “Rejoice if you feel that what you did was ‘necessary,’ but remember, even so, that you were simply the instrument by means of which He added one tiny grain to the Universe He created for His own purposes.”32 “Would the Crucifixion have had any sublimity or meaning if Jesus had seen Himself crowned with the halo of martyrdom? What we have later added was not there for Him. And we must forget all about it if we are to hear His commands.”33 In June, reflecting on the tortured events of the preceding six months, wrote:

“For someone whose job so obviously mirrors man’s extraordinary possibilities and responsibilities, there is no excuse if he loses his sense of ‘having been called.’ So long as he keeps that, everything he can do has a meaning, nothing a price. Therefore: if he complains, he is accusing – himself.”34 In September, 1957, Hammarskjöld’s initial term as U.N. Secretary General was to expire, and he was proposed for re-election. As little date approached, he wrote:

“Your responsibility is indeed terrifying. If you fail, it is God, thanks to your having betrayed Him, who will fail mankind. You fancy you can be responsible to God; can you carry the responsibility for God?”35 Five days after his re-election, September 26, this was his comment:

“Jesus sat and met with publicans and sinners, he consorted with harlots. Did he do this to obtain their votes? Or did he think that, perhaps, he could convert them by such ‘appeasement’? Or was his humanity rich and deep enough to make contact, even in them, with that in human nature which is common to all men, indestructible, and upon which the future has to be built?”36 To this climatic period of his life belong the strongest, clearest, most solidly Christian affirmations, anticipated earlier but now securer and more profound:

“The responsibility for our mistakes is ours, but not the credit for our achievements. Man’s freedom is a freedom to betray God. God may love us  yes – but our response is voluntary.” “It is not sufficient to place yourself daily under God. What really matters is to be only under God.”37 His radiance of spirit’.”‘Markings’ may well take a place among the dozen classics of Christian devotion of the ages, quite possibly the foremost by a theologically, untrained layman writing in the heat of professional life and the most exacting public responsibilities of world import.”

Its greatest and probably most lasting significance, however, lies in what it is: the almost unbelievably and relentlessly honest self-portraiture by one who was, at one and the same time, among the great servants of mankind in this and possibly any age and “a great, good and loveable man.”42 Indeed, beyond its amazing intrinsic worth, just here lies the fascination and marvel of this work, that reflections on life and destiny, fate and faith, man and Christ and God which would merit enduring recognition had they issued from monastic retreat and prolonged meditation were, in fact, hammered out amidst the contemporary world’s most urgent business.

Dr. Eric Goldman, Professor of History at Princeton University declares: “Hammarskjöld’s insistence on living in two worlds obviously explains the racking tension in his life. Equally unmistakable is the fact that his deep religious commitment helped a great deal toward his striking effectiveness as Secretary General of the U.N. Hammarskjöld genuinely felt himself above the need of any self-conscious neutrality. He did not have to serve either East or West; he served God. And always there was the imperative to do the job superbly: ‘You are dedicated to this task-because of the Divine intention behind it…but you have to give your all to this human dream for the sake of that which alone gives it reality.'”44

Hammarskjöld himself has revealed the secret: “In our era, the road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action.”45 May not the obverse hold: in our era, the road to action adequate to the demands of these times necessarily passes through the world of holiness? Only a spirit tempered in the fires of unflinching and indomitable dedication can yield character capable for leadership of humanity.

But the final word must be Hammarskjöld’s. If one were to select a single “road mark” for the end of his pilgrimage, it might be this:

“Thou who are over us, Thou who are one of us, Thou who art- Also within us, May all see Thee-in me also, May I prepare the way for Thee, May I thank Thee for all that shall fall to my lot, May I also not forget the needs of others, Keep me in Thy love As Thou wouldest that all should be kept in mine. May everything in this my being be directed to Thy glory And may I never despair. For I am under Thy hand, And in Thee is all power and goodness. Give me a pure heart-that I may see Thee, A humble heart-that I may hear Thee, A heart of love-that I may serve Thee, A heart of faith-that I may abide in Thee.”46

Extracted from http://theologytoday.ptsem.edu/jan1965/v21-4-article3.htm

——————————————————————————–

With infinte faith, Dag Hammarskjold had a great spirit and lived an extraordinary life…

and so CAN YOU!

Shared by Craig Lock (“Incorrigible Encourager and People-builder”)

“I am being driven forward Into an unknown land. ….. who struggled with making his every day life fit with his spiritual beliefs.”

“Success  for the glory of God – or for your own, for the peace of mankind or for your own? Upon the answer to this question depends on the result of your actions.”

“Become grateful as your deeds become less and less associated with your name, as your feet ever more lightly tread the earth.”

“Life only demands from you the strength you possess. Only one feat is possible – not to have run away.”

“Only he who keeps his eye fixed on the far horizon will find his right road.”

– Dag Hammarskjold (from ‘Markings’)

“Use every letter you write, every conversation you have, every meeting you attend, to express your fundamental beliefs and dreams. Affirm to others the vision of the world you want. You are a free, immensely powerful source of life and goodness. Affirm it. Spread it. Radiate it. Think day and night about it and you will see a miracle happen: the greatness of your own life. “

— Dr. Robert Muller Former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations

About the Submitter:

Craig believes in (and loves) sharing information and insights to try to make some difference in this world: to help and especially encourage people along life’s magical journey to live their dreams and be all they can be… and that brings him the greatest joy. He truly believes in the great potential of people to be all they can be an become.

Craig is currently “working” on ‘Endless Possibilities, Far and Great Horizons’ – true inspiring stories of the human condition in overcoming seemingly impossible odds.

The various books that Craig “felt inspired to write” (including ‘The Prize and ‘The Grand Prize’ are available at

 

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=la_B005GGMAW4_sr?rh=i%3Abooks&field-author=Craig+Lockhttp://www.amazon.com/-/e/B005GGMAW4 http://www.creativekiwis.com/amazon.htmland http://goo.gl/vTpjk

The submitter’s blogs (with extracts from his various writings: articles, books and new manuscripts) are at

www.peacepursuit.wordpress.com

“The world’s smallest and most exclusive bookstore”

“Each one of us can enrich the spiritual experience of others. Because humanity has a common soul, each one of us can reach into ourselves and provide similar inspirational energy for those around us. And doing this will produce positive change… in some small way to help make a better world.”

“Life does have meaning. We just need to trust the journey… through finding our own inspiration that resides within each person, each soul. Then this individual spirit will ripple, radiating out to others… and so enhance the common good of all human beings on earth. “

– craig as inspired by the words of Pat Lynch (Chief executive of the New Zealand Catholic Education Office) “Together, one mind, one soul at a time, let’s see how many people we can impact, empower, encourage and perhaps even inspire to reach their fullest potentials. Change YOUR world and you help change THE world.”

from www.craigsquotes.wordpress.com

 

THIS ARTICLE MAY BE FREELY PUBLISHED (with acknowledgment, thanks)

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2 thoughts on “Dag Hammarskjöld’s Spiritual Pilgrimage (by Henry P. Van Dusen)

  1. Pingback: The Life and Legacy of Dag Hammarskjold | The International Correspondent: Peace Pursuit

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