On Saturday, June 29, 2013, it was my joy to be present for the ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening of the new wing of the Saint Louis Art Museum in Forest Park. A monument to creativity, industry, beauty, and, yes, art – the picture-perfect day was as beautiful as could befit such an auspicious occasion. We made our way from the Grand Basin up Art Hill–covered in a thick carpet of emerald green grass, in the brilliant sunshine of an early summer day. I stood in rapt enjoyment along with hundreds of others while the Governor of Missouri, the Mayor of St. Louis, and others filed out in front of the new building. We heard the National Anthem sung, and listened to the words of congratulation and thanks expressed by the dignitaries on the dais. Then, in the company of my son and granddaughter, I leisurely explored the exhibition halls of the new wing, equally impressed with the space and the works of art contained within them.
Happily, we made our way that day from one pleasurable moment to the next. One of the most memorable for me was the opportunity to participate in Yoko Ono’s Wish Tree project: an outdoor patio installation of three live trees upon which to hang hand-written wishes. Begun in 1996, according to the official web site, to date, over a million wishes have been collected worldwide, and are all being housed at the site of the IMAGINE PEACE TOWER in Reykjavik, Iceland.
The dreamer in me wasted no time in fulfilling my wish to join the ranks of lovers of peace in this shared activity. Later, when a heavy rainstorm broke through the clouds, I wondered if all of our wishes, left fluttering on the limbs and branches of those trees, were going to be lost in the storm. To my delight, the next day when I visited the exhibit again, I found everything just as I had seen it the day before – except there were even more wishes hung upon the trees.
The Wish Tree
The walls were made of air and wind, and clouds
The ceiling formed, like shreds of muslin shrouds
That fluttered overhead and pulled and strained
Until they knit together grey and rained
Like hot teardrops baptizing every note
Making holy the wish each person wrote
With carefully chosen words, when satisfied,
Onto the trees were hung with string and tied.
Then, fluttering in the breeze and moistened by the rain,
I saw my note and wished it once again:
For every heart – love
For every soul – beauty
For every mind – truth
For every person – equality
For every dreamer – peace
For every captive – freedom
For every society – insight
For every child – a home
For every poet – a hearer
For every artist – a beholder
For every judgment – mercy
For every aspiration – fulfillment
For every difference – tolerance
For every loss – compassion
For every pain – healing
For every sorrow – relief
For every conflict – resolution
For every neglect – a commitment
For every joy – a smile
For every tear – a hug.