As some of you may know, I'm trying to fill Chris Harris' shoes (big shoes to try to fill), by organizing Ashes to Go. Four years ago when Chris spoke to me about this great event, that was perfect for me, I had to find out more. When he explained to me that we would be taking ashes to the streets, I immediately responded with,"I don't think you know me as well as you think. I have no problem greeting newcomers to the Cathedral or introducing myself to people I've not yet met. However, I'm NOT an Evangelist. I hold my faith rather quietly, which at times I wish I didn't." His response was to pray about it, and he would check in with me. I did pray and pray and was truly troubles. But after a couple of "check ins",by Chris, I agreed to try it out.
The morning of Ash Wednesday, I prayed for courage, peace and wisdom, and added, "Please, dear God, don't let my non- Christian friends see me." I had not arrived in front of the courthouse for five minutes, when who pulled up but the two people I especially didn't want to see me. I looked up to God and asked if this was some kind of a joke. After my friend and I found out what each other was doing there, she had jury duty, I asked if she would like ashes. Being a fallen away Catholic, she said it had been decades since she had done this, but accepted the ashes from me. The rest of the day continued to have such amazing stories to share. Now when we pull up in front of the courthouse we have people waiting for us, cheering that we are back again.
People are so grateful that they can get the ashes, along with a short prayer, because they didn't know how they were going to fit it into there schedules, or they had forgotten that it was Ash Wednesday. Several people leave a prayer request, which is read at the Cathedral during the week.
Grandmothers have watched, overjoyed, as their mentally challenged grandson received ashes and became so happy and animated. After a mother received ashes, she then, through tears, gave them to her son. Outside Peets Coffee, after receiving ashes, a mother asked for prayers for her son's job interview. A half hour later, a well dressed younger man came to receive ashes. When he asked for prayers, Bob said, "We know. For your job interview. Your mother is waiting for you."
We have faced hesitation by some, especially when someone says "I'm not Catholic," and we respond, "neither are we", or when one man responded "I'm gay," and John responded, "so am I."
Their are so many more wonderful stories, and by joining us this year on February 10th, I can assure you that you will have some of your own moments to share. Please pray about it and I hope you will give it a try. We go out in groups of 2-3, so you could watch for a while, and help to write down the prayer requests. Sign up sheets will be available after every service, or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.