Just heard on the radio that St. Paul’s is offering “Ashes-to-Go” this Ash Wednesday. The program was started last year as a way for the Church to try to reconnect with people who are too busy for, or simply have let go of, attending services.
In New York City, the volunteers with their bowls of ashes can be found on street corners and in subway stations. That somehow seems less sad to me than where you can find Ashes-to-Go in San Diego -- at Peet’s Coffee and Starbuck’s.
People have time to stand in line and buy a five dollar coffee beverage but don’t have time to drop into their church and pay a visit to a man who has dedicated his life to helping others?
My mother would confirm that this is a sign we are all going to hell in a hand basket. My best friend would help me gain some perspective and make me feel less like the world is coming to an end and more like creative geniuses are alive and well at work.
Still, isn’t the whole point to get off the hamster wheel for an hour and think about stuff like getting off the hamster wheel? The Priest says, “From dust you came and to dust you will return,” as he makes the cross on your forehead. I am not sure if you get the same reminder when the random church volunteer who may or may not have washed his hands blesses you beside the barista counter.
Our synagogue has been faced with a similar dilemma – how to get people connected back to their religious community. It depresses me when I get notices for adult events like football viewing parties in the social hall and youth trips to places like Trampoline Zone. I want to attend lectures with interesting speakers, teaching about world events and child rearing. I want my son to go on a hike or visit the tide pools with his youth group. I can’t complain, though. When the bulletin went out to join our Rabbi for a coffee talk brainstorming session to come up with attractive events and outings, I was too busy to join them.