Inspired by recent blogging by my friend Jason I’ve been reading the above title.  At various times I’ve picked it up and read bits of it over the years.  Finally got to the end.  Hammarskjöld blogged a very dense ‘sound-bite’ spirituality over a life-time.  I found the first part of the journal difficult.  It was an unsympathetic spirituality for me, very aristocratic and elitist.  The second half that I have been reading recently mark his conversion to Christianity.  A book of conversion narratives I have on my bookshelf includes extracts from pages 87-94 from Markings beginning with the first of Yes! statements and ending with Psalm 139:8, a journey in time through the years 1953-1954.

I have lingered over passages, savouring their their words and extracting as much meaning from them as possible.  The first theme I found was Hammarskjöld’s awareness of his own mortality and his movement to seeking affirmation in life.

Night is drawing nigh — How long the road is.  But for all the time the journey has already taken, how you have needed  every second of it in order to learn what the road passes — by.

— Night is drawing nigh —

For all that has been — Thanks!

To all that shall be — Yes!

To say Yes to life is at one and the same time to say Yes to oneself.

Yes — even to that element in one which is most unwilling to let itself be transformed from a temptation into a strength.

— Night is drawing nigh —

Let me finish what I have been permitted to begin.

Let me give all without any assurance of increase.

The pride of the cup is in the drink, its humility in the serving. What, then do its defects matter?

To say Yes is never more difficult than when circumstances prevent you from rushing to the defence of someone whose purity of heart makes him defenceless before an attack.

We dare your Yes — and experience a meaning.

You repeat your Yes — and all things acquire a meaning.

When everything has a meaning, how can you live anything but a Yes.

Night is drawing nigh —

Each day the first day : each day a life.

Each morning we must hold out the chalice of our being to receive, to carry, and to give back. It must be held out empty — for the past must only be reflected in its polish, its shape, its capacity.

. . . and those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask, vouchsafe to give us . . .

Yes to God: yes to Fate: yes to yourself. This reality can wound the soul, but has power to heal her.

Endless the series of things without name

On the way back to where there is nothing.

Two other passages caught my attention.  Two passages suggested to me Hammarskjöld an awareness of living in the Holy Trinity:

Righteous in Thine eyes,

With Thy courage,

Within Thy peace.

Before Thee, Father,

In righteousness and humility,

With Thee, Brother

In faith and courage,

In Thee, Spirit,

In stillness.

These are values to which Hammarskjöld would return again and again in his meditations.  This is a book I will return.  Let me wrestle from it such values as its writer discovered.

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