"A World Class Saint"
“God does not die on the day when we cease to believe in a personal deity, but we die on the day when our lives cease to be illumined by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond all reason.”
– Dag Hammarskjold
This Friday, September 18th, is the day we commemorate, a Swedish Lutheran who became Secretary General of the U.N. from 1953 to 1961 when he died in a plane crash on his way to negotiate a cease-fire in the newly liberated Congo. Hammarskjold was originally selected by the Soviet Union and the United States to be Secretary General because they thought he would be a good and quiet administrator – not make any waves. Instead he, in the words of Retired Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, “almost single-handedly shaped the vision for international co-operation and crisis management that we struggle to realize” to this day. For that work, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize posthumously.
Also posthumously, his devotional Markings was published to the shock and some say even embarrassment of readers who hadn’t realized that Hammarskjold was a man of such deep Christian faith – a “world-class saint” as one of his biographers called him.
Markings is an amazing record of Hammarskjold’s wrestling with his faith and what it means to live it even as or we might say especially as one in such a position of power and influence.
Would that all world leaders prayed as he did:
Thou who art over us,
Thou who art one of us,
Thou who art –
Also within us,
May all see Thee – in me also,
May I prepare the way for Thee,
. . .
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.
He may have lived long ago, but the prayer remains true.
It’s good to know God has holy ones everywhere.
– Pastor Dianne