For those who built this sacred ground, we pray.
For the workers who molded the bricks out of clay, laid each down by hand, one after another, after another. For the callouses that formed on their hands while they they spread the mortar, one day after another.
For the trees that laid down their life to become pews and pillars, to uphold after they have fallen down. For the birds who were once nested in their branches and for the forest animals whose bodies nourished the roots after their time was done.
For the artists who stained the glass with great care, and for the patient assistants who sweeped up the shards of their mistakes.
For those who worked masterpieces from the wood, intricate carvings and detailed sculptings. For those who painted the columns to mimic the marble in the cathedrals of Europe, knowing it would never be the same and trying none the less.
For those who who dug the stones out of the quary. The one who fell and broke his arm on the job, never to work again.
For the nuns whose long dark habits were covered in flour as they kneaded and kneaded and kneaded the bread into new life. For the farmer whose nose got sunburnt while he harvested the wheat, and for his grandaughter thrilled at her first trip out on the tractor.
For the stings on the hands of the beekeepers, who crafted the candles and lit the dark corridor aglow.
For the florist who wakes up early each week to finish the arrangements, making sure every detail was exactly right, knowing no one would notice and caring none the less.
For the woman who dug the beets out of the earth to create the perfect dye for the vestments, whose fingertips carried the signs of her work for weeks.
For the horses who carried the luggage across the country, fine paintings and golden chalises, and for his driver who never once complained when he had to stop to change his shoe. For the streams they stopped beside and the woven blankets which kept them warm.
For the miner who dug the coal to light the room when the beekeeper was no longer needed. For the long and dirty days in the mine where he suffered, died, and was buried.
For the light in the eyes of the couple who recited those promises on the same steps where their parents and their grandparents had stood before. For the mother who stayed up late the night before to finish working on the veil, and the teenage girl at the cafe who brewewd the cup of coffee needed to make this morning possible.
For the shoulders upon which the coffins have rested, and the shoulders upon which the weight remains, who have borne their load out of the doors and into the world.
For the woman who remembers to dust behind the radiators and pretends not to notice the homeless man who snuck in for a warm place to sober up.
For the vineyardist who would have cursed where his wine was going had he known, for he hasn’t forgotten the sting of the hurtful words spoke to him in a place not unlike this one, not long ago.
For the tears shed and for the elbows which found their way into their sisters sides, for the pages ripped out of the hymnals by impatient toddlers. For the cheerios spilled and the tired parents who pick them up.
For the pianist who stayed up late, night after night, trying to find a better way to rework that tricky bridge, and for her neighbor, who stayed up night after night as well.
For those who have wept here, slept here, prayed here, left here, shared here, and loved here, we pray.