An article in the November 2 issue of America on pastoring atheists quoted some lines from Dag Hammarskjold’s journal, Markings, that have always resonated with me. Hammarskjold wrote:
I don’t know Who – or what – put the question. I don’t know when it was put. I don’t even remember answering. But at some moment I did answer Yes to Someone – or Something – and from that hour I was certain that existence is meaningful and that, therefore, my life in self-surrender, had a goal.”
For me it captures something of the reality of the spiritual journey for many of us. There is a part of us that wants everything figured out in advance. We want to know all the particulars, to have all the “i”s dotted and the “t”s crossed. We want to know exactly what it is we are signing onto.
But there came a point where we – perhaps tentatively – said yes, without a whole lot of assurance as to exactly what all the terms and conditions were. Maybe, like Hammarskjold, we couldn’t even really articulate who we were saying yes to or what we were affirming. But we said yes and surrendered to something larger than ourselves, certain that it gave meaning to our lives.
I now have words for the “Who” I said yes to (although I don’t think I did at the first moment I said yes). For me it is yes to God the Father, who created me and gives my life its purpose and meaning. And it is yes to God the Son, who became flesh. And it is yes to God the Spirit, who dwells in us.
You might articulate the Who and the What differently from the way I do. But the yes to an ultimate reality, to a Truth beyond ourselves, to something that gives our life meaning, is something that unites us.