He Rises Above Us
One of the things I liked to do when we lived in Vancouver was snoop around in used bookstores. The options aren’t as plentiful over here on the island, but there are always treasures to find if I’m willing to put in a little effort. I like used books. I like their well-worn appearance, I like seeing others’ notes and underlinings. I like old editions of books that have strange covers and use weird fonts and smell funny. And I like it that they’re cheap! It’s pretty easy to take a chance on a book when you’re only paying a couple of dollars.
Among my recent acquisitions was a collection of three decades worth of diary entries, poems, and musings by Swedish diplomat and author Dag Hammarskjöld. I’ve come across Hammarskjöld’s name enough times to be vaguely familiar with him, but I had never read his book. Because it is a diary and because it covers a long period of time it obviously has a kind of fragmented feel to it (at least on a casual reading) but there are more than a few memorable passages. Here are a couple of quotes from Hammarskjöld’s Markings:
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.
On the bookshelf of life, God is a useful work of reference, always at hand but seldom consulted. In the whitewashed hour of birth, He is a jubilation and a refreshing wind, too immediate for memory to catch. But when we are compelled to look ourselves in the face—then He rises above us in terrifying reality, beyond all argument and ‘feeling,’ stronger than all self-defensive forgetfulness.