Tuesday, March 31, 2015

sanctuary & conflict

United Nations Room of Quiet
" ... Sanctuary is an experience sought and needed in today's anxious world. It can be found in worship communities that value moments of quiet. It can be found in traditional liturgies -- for example, in the spacious flow of Gregorian chant. It can be found in theaters, concert halls, and opera houses where art mirrors experience with love and insight. It belongs also to the meditation hall, now naturalized in the West although its roots are Asian. More than a few of us know the peaceful order of such spaces: the regular rows of cushions, the still figures of men and women seated in meditation, perhaps a sacred image on an altar. What a perfect lace and means for learning to be human from the inside out.

" ... sanctuary is tied to the world ...

"Many know something of spirituality in the sanctuary of a spiritual community or in their privacy. But what becomes of it, how does it serve and find paths forward when it must return to the world -- when it has duties? Does it enrich a man or woman's education to work? Does it strike deep roots in plain things or is it aloof? Does it touch life and allow itself to be touched only because there is no practical alternative? Does it learn from troubled circumstances and difficult people or does it long for the close of business so that it can go off on its own? Is it denatured by stress or does it somehow thrive? Does it make one more clear-sighted and strategic when strategy is needed -- or hamper mobility by draping it on  holy vestments, in slow ideas? Only Hammarskjold and a few other of our era can answer these questions -- he best of all.

"Hammarskjold had a sense of sanctuary." 

" ... Long before the popularization of notions about being "here and now" -- the value of living in the present -- he had made that discovery on his own and ever after strived to stay put, just where he was, looking after present needs. However, when at last he had time for himself and returned to his long exploration of the inner dimensions of experience and the subtleties of literature and the arts, we should follow him there too, even to the edge of what he called "the unheard of", where he encountered sacred or found prayer. His commitment to the work of the United Nations was entire and wholehearted He gave himself unsparingly. He was made for that. His commitment to an inner path was no less entire. He was made for that. How did these two intersect and reinforce each other? How did Hammarskjold become able to carry the clarity and poise of sanctuary into the world? ...

" ... in a letter to Swedish author Eyvind Johnson, he [Hammarskjold] wrote: "The other day I was forced by a journalist to try to formulate my views on the main requirements of somebody who wishes to contribute to the development of peace and reason. I found no better formulation than this: 'He must push his awareness to the utmost limit without losing his inner quiet, he must be able to see with the eyes of others from within their personality without losing his own.'"

- Hammarskjold, A Life, by Roger Lipsey pp.3-5

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