Friday, February 20, 2015

Ash Wednesday: We all got to die


Ash Wednesday. In  the middle of a deep freeze tat doesn’t want to let go. I don’t even want to do my usual walk after lectionary and take the bus to the church.

Time to get ready for Ash Wednesday. I open the communion table. Take out the dried palms from last Palm Sunday. Find my metal pot. Take them out to the front steps..yes freezing cold…and light the palms…they hesitate a moment then burst into flame. When they die down, the pot cools, I take olive oil and mix it in to make the paste we use for imposing ashes. Like that phrase….imposition of ashes….

At noon, I bless the ashes and wait. I always look forward to this day. One of my favorites. It’s supposed to remind us of our mortality. And that is what it does.  Through the steady stream of people who come through seeking ashes. Mostly people I don’t know. Some members, like Deacon James who comes in late in the day and gets his cross right beneath his African cap.

There’s the African nanny and the little girl in her charge who gets ashes too. The college girl on her way back to Connecticut. Latinos young and old. People waiting for the bus who stop in. People from the projects. I ask their name. I read the prayer over the ashes from the Book of Common Worship. Place my hands on their head and say their name and then ..remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return…As Jeremy sings in his song, ..and we all got to die…Mortality. We’re all in this together.


Jed and his creative partner Mima. It’s great to be working with him again after lo these many years. Remembering his year as guest musician in residence and the liturgies we created. He’s got some intriguing projects coming up. And will do Make Music New York for us. And some Sundays.

Martin comes in. We’re getting close to putting this contract to bed. But we will.

The Center board meets. Yes, we’re coming close to getting enough groups in to close the budget gap, but some are not good ideas. Do we really want to be identified with a groaner of a French comedy piece permanently in our sanctuary? If every inch is rented, how do we live out a vision? And there’s this catch 22…West-Park cannot afford the upkeep of the building. The only way to do this is a community coalition that sees the building as part of the community’s cultural heritage. But they would only do that if they see a vision, an identity to the building beyond the church. And to establish that identity in a public way takes money which….Again, the pieces are there, where’s the plan? That is the question…And also to get session to agree…

Pat asks if I can go out for a drink, or if I’ve got an Ash Wednesday prohibition. Well, I’ll stick with wine tonight when we head to the B. As we’re leaving, we run into the producer of tonight’s fashion show in the chapel. He’s brimming with happiness over his night. He loved the venue with its distressed chic. (Sigh). So we stop to share a glass of wine with him before heading out into the cold. Wish I could have seen the show.

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