A few weeks ago Kathy Jarvis had invited me to say a prayer, dedicating a bench in memory and honor of Mandy Matula at Brunswick Bowl in Eden Prairie. Mandy is the young woman who went missing a year ago yesterday. Her body was not found until last fall. Kathy manages at Brunswick Bowl where Mandy had worked. (Similarly, many of the youth from EPUMC have worked there as well.)
I experience these invitations as both a great privilege and something of an ominous task. It’s one thing to preach sermons and be at funerals and other sacred events with people you know and who have certain expectations of what is going to happen. It’s quite another to bless a bench at a bowling alley. And yet benches and bowling alleys are as sacred a space to some people as pews in churches are to some of us. I have to remember that even though I’m the one who is feeling out of place, the need is the same.
That need, is of course, to connect with what is holy, with God. I thought some of you might be interested in what I prayed. I share it with you as those who also grieve the tragic death of someone so young.
Mysterious God of Life and Death,
Today, we remember Mandy
Whose life touched all of us
And added love and beauty and creativity
Friendship and honesty,
Courage and companionship
To our lives.
Beloved Source of all that is,
We come here to dedicate this bench
in memory of Mandy and to her honor
at this one of her places of work.
May this bench bring rest to those who seek it;
As Mandy helped us to put down our burdens and listened to us.
May this bench revitalize those who sit here;
As the memory of Mandy still refreshes our spirits and calls us to life.
May this bench be a place where friends meet and hold onto each other
As the memory of Mandy still holds many of us in its Holy Purple Light.
Lord of Compassion as we dedicate this memorial to Mandy we also pray
For all those who still grieve.
For Wayne and Lisa and Steven and all her family
send your angel of consolation for this pain is heavy and deep
one that no one can bear alone.
For her classmates and teammates and roommates and co-workers and friends
Send your hope for a new day when we will all embrace
in the ties that bind us forever together
in this life and the life that is to come.
For all of us who will throughout our lives remember this as a day of morning
Send your peace that in your time O Holy One
transforms even our
our hottest anger
our most intense despair
Into your eternal and everlasting peace.
In which we trust
Mandy forever rest.