Today I offered “ashes to go” at the White Plains train station. It’s apparently controversial, but I’m letting others do the heavy theological lifting. I wanted to experience it before I reflected.
It was cold. Below freezing. We still haven’t gotten out of the polar vortex, which I think has decided that it’s very comfortable in its new digs and has decided it will never leave. Besides, spring has gone fishing. Ice fishing.
At first, I stood outside the train station in my cassock and surplice for a bit, but once I found myself unable to move my hands, I entered the lobby across from the newspaper kiosk. It was also cold. The doors kept opening as commuters rushed in. To keep my hands warm, I’d rub them against each other as I held my little glass bowl full of burned palms. I would have rubbed them between my surplice and cossack, but I worried it would look vaguely illegal. So I kept my hands visible.
I stood still, as I didn’t want to be pushy, merely present. Available to the seeker, but conveniently ignored by the apathetic, distracted, and irreligious. I didn’t want to raise anyone’s anxieties or hurt anyone’s feelings by being so enthusiastically a priest.
People said, “I heard about this.” Apparently the radio and papers found this fascinating. Press might be good. Look at those quirky Episcopalians, standing in the cold, offering dirt and telling people they’re all going to die.
“I didn’t know this was happening,” said another. This?
“Can you do this?” Am I allowed? Well, I won’t tell anyone if you won’t, I didn’t say. I have a license. Continue reading “On Distributing Ashes at the Train Station”