“The longest journey is the journey inwards”*

Dear Friends,

I hope you enjoyed Neil’s short series exploring a range of themes that came to him in Lockdown.  We now turn to a week’s worth of reflections by Stephen Dawson, an elder at Ipswich Road URC in Norwich using ideas from Dag Hammarskjöld.  Stephen writes:

“Vägmarken”, which I would translate as “Waymarks”, was described by Dag Hammarskjöld in a letter he left, as a diary that was begun “without a thought of anyone else reading it”. The text was found after his death as a collection of notes, together with a letter about it to his friend Leif Belfrage. As UN Secretary General, Hammarskjöld wrestled with matters of huge importance (often whether there was war or peace), and he met with many key people on the world stage. He makes no reference to any of this in his jottings, however. They are far from those of some bigwig keeping his notes with an eye to making his fortune after his current career has finished!

His notes refer to an inward journey, an attempt, as he struggles to carry out this highest of jobs, to live and work in a way that accords with the God he adamantly believed in and whom he worked exhaustingly to come to know better.

One way he used to do this was to listen for God’s voice in what was said by others, whether he agreed with them or completely disagreed. “What! Does that person think they’re going to teach me something?!” he writes. And then continues, “But why not? There is no-one from whom you can not learn.” He believed God could speak through anyone; that like a young child, there was always something to be learned in life and from God, however important you might be (or think yourself to be).

Life, he believed, meant continually moving on, continually leaving something behind, including leaving behind the security of what one knew well.

So what are the Waymarks, or “Markings” as the English translation of Hammarskjöld’s book was entitled? They were points at which he believed he had learned something true and important, a fixed point of understanding in life that he could not allow himself to lose.

I believe Hammarskjöld has much to teach us at whatever stage we are in our own life, at whatever stage we are in our journey with God, towards living life as God would have us live it.

This week we have six reflections each based on a quotation of Hammarskjöld and a Biblical reading, which hopefully will enable us to review how we make our own journey through life.

* The quotations here and at the beginning of each of the six Daily Devotions are my translations of ones taken from Dag Hammarskjöld’s book, “Vägmarken”, and are ones reproduced on a series of stone markers set on the Dag Hammarskjöld trail inaugurated in 2004 in Northern Sweden.


With every good wish


The Rev’d Andy Braunston
Minister for Digital Worship

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