Today is Ash Wednesday. And actually, at this hour, it is mostly a memory. All over the Diocese of Olympia ashes were offered to those in our “Ashes to Go” event. Of course, Ashes were also offered in our churches, in many places, two or even three times in this one day. This sign appeared earlier this week at Church of the Ascension in Magnolia, the one below, St. Paul’s, Bremerton.
Ashes in church, and ashes out. It was interesting that the Facebook “chatter” this afternoon was a bit of an argument of whether it was more efficacious to receive them in the walls of the church, within the blessed confines of the proper words of the prayer book liturgy, or received in a public place, a ferry terminal, a city street, a college campus. Strange the arguments we have, what worries us, what deems judgement by us.
It seems to me we need both. The stories I heard this year, and every year, from those who are on the streets, from those so thankful for the gift of this reminder of our mortality are truly inspiring. The ultimate crucial moment in the liturgy of this day is the line, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” That same line is offered to all those on the street.
If there is any truth that connects each and every human on this earth, those words, and the reality of them, must get very near the core truth of our lives, inside and outside the walls of the church.