Asked by Judge David Dreyer to share the closing prayer during the Robert F. Kennedy Remembrance at the Kennedy King Memorial in King Park this past Saturday (June 6th, the 47th anniversary of Kennedy's assassination), I happened onto this poem by artist Judy Chicago and it captured my sense of what should be shared on this occasion.
I had been thinking of the one phrase in the Lord's Prayer which consistently moves me: "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Behind this petition or longing is a deep-down ache that things "on earth" are not "as they are in heaven," connecting to the deep-down conviction that they should and can be. The work of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the labor of Bobby Kennedy for equality, justice, reconciliation, and an evasive community of hope are reflected in this prayer.
When I found Judy Chicago's poem in Prayers for the Common Good compiled by Jean Lescher, the words seemed to reflect the heart of the prayer "Thy kingdom come." I incorporated the poem into my brief reflections that I shared as I stood in the shadow of the unique and compelling Kennedy King Memorial.
With gratitude to Chicago for her way of contemporizing an ancient longing and prophecy, I put myself once again into these words and pray with a breaking, hoping heart:
And then all that has divided us will merge.
And then compassion will be wedded to power
And then softness will come to a world that is harsh and unkind.
And then both men and women will be gentle.
And then both women and men will be strong.
And then no person will be subject to another’s will.
And then all will be rich and free and varied.
And then the greed of some will give way to the needs of many.
And then all will share equally in the earth’s abundance.
And then all will care for the sick and the weak and the old.
And then all will nourish the young.
And then all will cherish life’s creatures.
And then all will live in harmony with each other and the earth.
And then everywhere will be called Eden once again.
"Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
John Franklin Hay
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA