Certain people have affected me profoundly. For this reason I post a reflection on Dag Hammarskjöld(1905-1961). Hammarskjold was the third secretary-general of the United Nations during the Cold War period. Prior to that he was secretary of the Bank of Sweden and under-secretary in the Ministry of Finance. He earned a degree in the humanities and a doctorate in economics at Upsala University. Highly privileged he was also highly humbled. Hammarskjold embodied the mind and spirit of scholar, diplomat, international leader, poet and mystic — fundamentally Christian but well-versed in Islam, Buddhism and Judaism. I believe he pursued the One.
Hammarskjold opens his famous Markings with a quotation from Meister Eckhart(1260-1327): “Only the hand that erases can write the true thing.”
I believe Hammarskjold used this quotation first because Eckhart was a soul mate and second because Markings is neither strictly an autobiography nor memoir. Markings is not a diary or journal either. His markings are trail marks through his poignant, shaping experiences. There is evidence that he also constantly changed his marks throughout his life. This indicates a man constantly reflecting on truth, truth in his own intellectual and spiritual growth and his utter commitment to international harmony.
I picture a little boy in school, his tongue licking his lips, diligently writing with a pencil and then with equal ardor erasing and correcting his tablet. He would have been someone dedicated to “getting it right” in all that he did personally and publicly. He was less interested in recording events than in how his hike was evolving. Most likely he did not ever find “the true thing,” but I must believe he came very close. I can see this avid hiker in Lapland earnestly making his way to the top, finding many truths which he hoped would cohere into one Truth — all in the adventure of solving the Mystery. What a wonderful trail mate he would have been.