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For two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon on Ash Wednesday, St. Paul’s took “Ashes to Go” to a very cold street corner outside Foggy Bottom metro station. Nearly 550 passers-by broke their rush to work or exercise or school or home to have the sign of the cross marked in ashes on their foreheads. The clergy person (bishop, priest or deacon) asked each person his name, administered the ashes with the words, “N, remember that thou are dust and unto dust thou shalt return,” then placed a hand on the person’s shoulder and said, “And remember, God loves you.” It is a moment that seems not just liturgical, but fundamentally sacramental.
Katherine Britton commented, "The responses of those who stopped ranged from smiles to tears to spoken thanks to a sense of quiet reflection. Many said what a blessing we were offering. What I, and I believe most of us who took part, felt was that we were blessed by the participants’ coming forward — God’s presence seemed very close in their thankful, emotional responses."
Bishop Jim commented, “I only wish everyone at St. Paul’s could each spend ten minutes watching to see the impact of this ministry.”