On Ash Wednesday, February 10, 2016, a day that was interrupted by intermittent showers the Rev. Clarence Li rector of St. Hilda's, Sechelt; Pastor Richard Hergesheimer; honorary assistant and Meg Stevens were graced to engage some 20 or so people with 15 of them receiving ashes at their inaugural "Ashes to Go" event on Cowrie Street in downtown Sechelt.
Clarence says that they were constantly surprised by the readiness of some to receive ashes by the sidewalk and the searching questions others asked regarding this ancient call to return to life. We were also honoured to be the recipients of sacred stories of some people's journey of faith. One passerby said, "I am carrying the ashes of my sister with me everyday, and it's been a very difficult year for me," he spoke as tears started to well up.
When asked about the relevance of this ritual in 2016, Clarence says, "In the light of the ecological crisis and the acts of violence in many parts of our world today, the sign of ashes can be a powerful wake-up call for all, Christians and non-Christians alike to pause, re-examine our lifestyles, and take stock on how we may have personally contribute to the denigration of the Mother Earth and human relationships. The ancient invitation to fast and repent can take on new meanings because our world urgently needs us to fast from judging and to return to compassionate living."