In 1961, Swedish diplomat and second Secretary General of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjöld died at the age of 56 in an airplane crash as he travelled to a warring region of Africa. A lifelong student of languages, Christian mysticism, history and literature, Hammarskjöld had brought his deep faith to the work which he called ‘preventive diplomacy’, the negotiation of agreements and understandings in the spirit of the UN’s mandated mission of peace-making.
After his death, Hammarskjöld’s daily journal was published under the English title Markings. Hammarskjöld saw these jottings as his own ‘negotiations’ with himself and with God. His first entry when elected to his post in 1953 expresses the faith and conviction which were to uphold him in the years ahead. He wrote, ‘For all that has been, THANKS, for all that is to be, YES!’
In this prayer of affirmation and hope, Hammarskjöld points to the essence of our common life in Christ: the offering of gratitude and thanks. As we read in the Letter to the Colossians, ‘And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.’ Apostle Paul writes in the First Letter to the Thessalonians, ‘Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.’