REFLECTIONS ON "ASHES ON THE GO"

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"Ashes on the Go" was the most moving thing I have done in my 3+ years at St. Stephen's. For two hours in the afternoon, I watched as 80 people drove, walked, or pushed baby strollers into our parking lot to be blessed by Sarah or Lisa with the words “remember that we come from dust and to dust we will return.” Then I handed each a card with our services listed on it and said, “Just in case you are looking for a place for Easter or Lent.”

It was clear we were onto something special when people showed up early and kept coming. Their stories were different and yet the same. Almost everyone was from outside our current St. Stephen’s community. Each of them said that they had decided to come after seeing our purple "Ashes on the Go" yard signs and were grateful to find a place to receive ashes. They wanted to begin Lent in a way that honored their traditions, but the circumstances of their lives made it difficult – from being too busy or not ready emotionally to step inside a church. They were thankful that our clergy helped them connect to God and the church from the St. Stephen's sidewalk.

I saw:

  • Mothers getting themselves and their kids blessed as they carpooled between neighborhood schools and evening activities

  • Friends bringing friends who they thought needed a blessing

  • Individuals who became emotional at coming onto church grounds, one admitting they hadn’t been in a church in years

  • A neighborhood landscape crew that put down their tools to get blessed 

  • A mother pulling a wagon with her 18-month old son and tiny 2-week old child who stopped to receive a blessing on their afternoon walk 

  • A very ill person in hospital mask driven by her adult daughter

  • A young woman who fought back tears because she’d had a bad day and said that this was just what she needed 

  • People in expensive cars and beat-up clunkers

  • People of every age, race, and gender 

  • A man who told us he attended St. Stephen’s school in 1970 as a kindergartener 

  • Three parishioners who’d attended St Stephen’s decades ago and intimated they might come back. 

In the end we served 30 people in the morning and 80 people in the afternoon – 110 altogether. Each was grateful that we met them where they were with what they needed.

I hope everyone gets a chance to stand on our sidewalk and serve people where they are.

-Karen Soh, Director of Development