Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:8-9)
My thoughts today turned to Swedish diplomat, United Nations General Secretary, and Nobel Prize recipient, Dag Hammarskjold. On September 18, 1961, he was en-route to negotiate a cease-fire in the Congo when his plane crashed and all passengers on that flight ultimately died. He was remembered as a man of integrity, courage, and conviction who profoundly impacted this world. Of him, John F. Kennedy was quoted as saying: “I realize now that in comparison to him, I am a small man. He was the greatest statesman of our century.” His passion for world peace propelled him forward, yet it was his hope-filled faith that undergirded every part of his life.
Occasionally, I run across a profound quote that I discover had been written by him. This month, one affirmation found its way into my life a few times – once in a book, once in a reminder from a friend, and once in a clergy group discussion. When that happens, I perk up and pay special attention to the synchronicity of it all: “For all that has been — thanks! For all that shall be — yes! In my curiosity about his life, I also found that many of his sayings that have become famous were found in his little book, Markings, a compilation of his journal entries over the course of a lifetime. This typewritten manuscript was only found after his death at age 56 and was subsequently published in 1963. It was a profoundly spiritual book, full of musings on his own relationship with God woven together with a spirituality that permeated all his life.
The interplay of “thanks” and “yes” in his words – invite us to humble gratitude for the past and hopeful intentionality for the future. As we settle into this new year, I want to deepen my commitment to thanksgiving and gratitude for all that has been. Despite the challenges that 2020 brought our way, so many of us have found hidden riches that surprised us – a quieter lifestyle, time for reflection, deeper conversations with loved ones, a commitment to a community, and a more intentional connection with God. As we move through 2021, I pray that we will bow deeply to the “yeses” that will be asked of us – yes to whatever situations or opportunities that may come our way – “for all that is to come” — trusting that we might be the messengers of grace and peace to those around us.
For the peacemakers in this community, in this nation, in this world
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. (Dag Hammarskjold)