The Rector - St Michael and All Angels', Victoria, BC

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The Rector

Dawna's Blog 15th February
Reflecting  on the First Sunday in Lent, Jan Richardson in her blog at Painted Prayerbook  writes:
"How  will we see the angels if we don’t go into the wilderness? How will we recognize  the help that God sends if we don’t seek out the places beyond what is  comfortable to us if we don’t press into terrain that challenges our habitual  perspective? How will we find the delights that God provides even—and  especially—in the desert places?"
On  Wednesday, my colleague, Aneeta and I, stepped into the courtyard of the  downtown Victoria library, a kind of urban wilderness. We hear that people are  inured to religion, hostile to those who represent the church and we experience  some of that in our encounters with friends and family members when they ask why  we go to church or even when we want to say a blessing before meals.  I thought  of all of these things, as I waited for Aneeta to arrive. I sat on the steps  where buskers often sit, feeling vulnerable and awkward as people looked at me  and wondered what I was doing there.  Some people smiled, others averted their  eyes and some, curious, circled around me several times to see what I might be  doing there.  When Aneeta arrived, we donned our vestments, set up our table  with our "Ashes to Go" sign and a basket of beautiful Valentine cards, made by  all of you.
The  oil and the ashes were on a small table with a purple cloth covering it and we  were asked by a few people if the ashes were human remains.  We were quick to  reassure them that they were not.  Aneeta pulled a palm cross out of her pocket  and we put it on the table and explained how the palm crosses are gathered up  and burned and used for the ashes each year.  Some people were unsure of us,  some were wary, some were interested and curious.  Without exception, children  and First Nations people were far more open to us and what we were doing and  gracious in accepting our Valentine's.  Some people worried that we were a  commercial enterprise and needed to ask a lot of questions and look at the  Valentine's closely to make sure we weren't advertising or selling anything.  A  number of people were surprised that it was Ash Wednesday and decided to receive  the imposition of ashes, and the reminder that each of us is a part of God's  holy compost system, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
In  our Diocesan Vision, we are encouraged to engage God's world and Project You  are so Loved in conjunction with Ashes to Go, certainly did that.   What surprised me was how powerfully the ministry of engaging God's world  necessarily engaged Aneeta and I.  It was a mutual engagement as people asked  questions, listened to our responses and shared their personal realities.  We  had to think quickly and articulate our faith in ways that those unfamiliar with  or disengaged from faith could understand.  In doing so, we found our own faith  tremendously enriched and expanded. Going into the urban wilderness of downtown  Victoria, we were ministered to by angels, and their blessings linger with our  spirits as we move into Lent.   
 
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