I love evening prayer. There’s something about the way night sounds, smells, feels. Night curves toward rest, and the evening light makes prayer feel distinctly different as the sun sets than it does in the bright light of Sunday morning worship.
The prayer below is clearly a prayer for the evening. I love its simplicity, its “thanks!” and its “yes!” It is the kind of prayer that should be embroidered on our pillow cases, written on sticky notes placed by our bathroom mirrors, or made into refrigerator magnets so that every evening we might remember our own “thanks!” and our own “yes!” to all that has unfolded and all that might unfold under the banner of God’s love.
Dag Hammarskjold was a Swedish economist and the second General Secretary to the United Nations. He died in a plane crash in what was then called Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) at the age of 56 under what have been called “suspicious” circumstances, and was posthumously awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work for peace during the Suez crisis in the Middle East and the civil war in the Congo.
Hammarskjold was a spiritual man, indebted to medieval mystics like Meister Eckhart and Jan van Ruysbroeck whose philosophies of ‘self-surrender,’ humility, and meditation were critical to his life of faith. He designed the silent meditation room at the UN headquarters saying, “We want to bring back, in this room, the stillness which we have lost in our streets, and in our conference rooms, and to bring it back in a setting in which no noise would impinge on our imagination.” When the meditation room was finalized, he wrote, “We all have within us a center of stillness surrounded by silence.
This house [the United Nations Headquarters], dedicated to work and debate in the service of peace, should have one room dedicated to silence in the outward sense and stillness in the inner sense.”
May your day, and your night, be guided toward such stillness.
Let us pray:
Night is drawing nigh—
For all that has been—Thanks!
For all that shall be—Yes!
—Dag Hammarskjold, 1905–1961
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