Parish Interview: What Do Ashes Mean to You This Year?

March 6, 2012 § 1 Comment

St. Luke in the Fields Blog: What do ashes mean to you this year, Chris?

Chris Phillips: Ash Wednesday was an over-scheduled work day for me – with two new
employees starting at our company that today — but I need to take a
short break to honor the day as best I could. I took a quick lunchtime
subway ride from my office in Soho down to Trinity Wall Street. I was
fascinated by the crowd of people gathered for to get their ashes.
Trinity had three people distirbuting ashes just inside the door, so I
quickly made my way to the front of the line.

The woman putting the ashes on my head asked for my name. I told her.
“Chris, remember you are dust and to dust you shall return,” she said.

I fixated on the sound of the dry ashes scratching on my forehead.
Hearing that gravely dry grinding in that particular place pulled me
back to the days following the World Trade Center disaster.  Back
then, my office off Wall Street along with much of lower Manhattan was
coated with dust. Back then, we didn’t need a reminder that we are
dust. We were all coated with grime and dust. I can’t forget that
smell or that fear.

Maybe it is trite to make the obvious connection between 9/11 and Ash
Wednesday, but that griding dust sound is now looping in my head. I
think I am acknowledging mortality and those horrible days as we move
farther away from the day it happened, but also looking for renewal
and hope.

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§ One Response to Parish Interview: What Do Ashes Mean to You This Year?

  • Tom Wharton says:

    This is a very moving post, and the connection with 9/11 is a very good one. Just hearing about it brings back all the emotions that Chris is taking about… and the spiritual lessons as well…

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