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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ashes to stay

Ashes to Go.

All the cool kids are doing it.

At least, that's the way it feels. And, I think the truth of it is that this is the presenting issue of my discomforts with it.

However, it goes much, much deeper than that.

I mean, look, I get it. People live very busy, often frenetic lives. Places of employment do not allow people time to go to church on Ash Wednesday the way they once did - not without negotiating some time taken from the employee's "time bank" (vs. specified vacation and sick days, and designated holidays in the past).

Why not go to where people are, it is argued, and provide the church's service "on the go"?

And, I get the argument about how people have drifted away from the church ("I'm spiritual, not religious") because the church has not been willing to meet people where they are.

"Ashes to go," it is argued, brings the church to the world. And, isn't that what Jesus would have us do? It will make the church more relevant in people's lives. If we're willing to meet them at the train station and bus stops, hopefully people will "get" that we are willing to meet them wherever they are - no matter where they are on their spiritual journey.  See?

And, hey, what a great opportunity for  "evangelism", right? On this one day, anyway, The Episcopal Church is certainly getting our "market share" of the news and for once, it's not "controversial".

Look, Ma, The Episcopal Church is doing something "good" and it's not about ordaining women or LGBT people and it's not about (gasp!) abortion or reproductive rights.

I get it, I get it, I get it.

I'm not going to argue against those arguments. (Well, I don't really know if it's "evangelism" or "publicity", but I'm not even going to go there right now.)

None of this dispels my greater concerns.

Part of what concerns me is that I fear this is a short term solution with dubious efficacy to a long term problem. Imposing ashes on someone's forehead who is not at all interested in church seems to me to be the ecclesiastical equivalent of putting a band aid on a large, gaping wound.

By taking the imposition of ashes out of the church and its liturgical context and onto the streets, aren't we, in fact, doing something that's more "spiritual" than "religious"?  Is that bad? Is that good? I don't know. You tell me.

I'm asking a question.

I know, I know. Grace can't be contained or controlled. It's a gift from God, given freely and undeservedly.  We are but the vehicles of God's grace. Who knows how the imposition of ashes will affect or impact the recipient? 

I know this, but here's the thing: While Grace is a mystery, it's not magic. I think this concerns me most. Not that clergy aren't clear that they're not involved in a magic show at the train station; rather, I'm afraid that the "spiritual but not religious" folks don't know that.  How would they? Who's going to tell them? How are we going to tell them?

I'm asking a question.

Maybe it's the name. "Ashes to go". I don't know.  The title is clever and all but it makes it sound like we're offering "McChurch". Spiritual 'fast food' for important people with important jobs and important lives. But, are we offering 'good spiritual nutrition'?

I don't know. I'm not sure.
Which brings me to another concern. It's the power of a liturgical symbol - especially when it is taken out of its liturgical context.

We 'break bread' with friends - some of them spiritual friends - over a 'table' but does that make it Eucharist?  We can impose ashes on each other's foreheads, and even say the words from Genesis, "Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return," but if that's said and done apart from "the story" of our faith, does it convey the same meaning?

I'm asking a question.

I guess that's what really concerns me - separating sacred symbol from sacred story. Further, it removes the clergy from an engagement with the sacred stories of people's lives. I think that impoverishes everyone involved.

Well, maybe not 'impoverish' - that may be too strong a word - but it's certainly not as enriching and fulfilling as understanding the story of our mortal lives within the greater story of the hope and resurrection we know in Christ Jesus.

Ashes and Lent, for me, anyway, mean nothing apart from the whole, on-going story of God's action in the world. It's just one part of the Salvation Story. Ashes are but one symbol of that story. Baptismal water is another. Bread and Wine are two significant other symbols.

Reminding people of their mortality through the symbol of ashes is not really spreading hope. The Gospel is all about hope. It's the "Good News". Where is the "Good News" in the symbol of ashes apart from the other symbols of our faith?

I'm asking a question.

I guess, for me, I would be very happy doing an abbreviated Ash Wednesday service and taking it to the lobby of an office building, or inside a commuter rail station building, or even on the platform of the train station or bus stop or a homeless shelter or the outside porch of a home near a bus stop or train station or wherever.

But, just the ashes? All by themselves? I just don't know.
Truth is, I can't articulate - yet - what concerns me about that, but I know it has something to do with the power of symbol and liturgy and story within the context of a community of faith.

It's all very pragmatic and convenient and I guess, from my own personal experience, that's what bothers me the most.

Religion - like faith - is neither pragmatic nor convenient.  It's messy and demanding and confusing and compelling.

Like, for example, love.

Jesus is God's love made incarnate. That's what we teach and preach. How does the imposition of ashes on the forehead of someone standing at the platform of a commuter rail station or bus stop fully communicate the love of God incarnate in Christ Jesus?

I'm asking a question.

All that being said, it's what all the cool kids are doing, and - at least on the surface - it doesn't seem to hurt anything or anyone.

So, why not, right? If all the cool kids are doing it, it must be, well, cool, right?

I guess I'm just going to have to let the 'cool kids' be cool and sit this one out again this year. I'm going this evening to the Ash Wednesday Service at the church where I'm a member.

I'm going to listen to the story of our faith and reflect on it within the context of the story of my own life. I'm going to be with some people who know me and I know them and some others I may never see again, after tonight.

I'm going to smell the mixture of the sacred oil and ashes and sing some of the old, old songs of the church and hear the prayers which call me to a Holy Lent.

I going to take full advantage of the luxury of one hour to get away from the usual and customary and comfortable places of my life and sit with my discomfort about the world and the church and my faith and pray that I may be a vehicle of grace - in the church and of the church and through the church and into the world.

I'm not getting my ashes to go.

I'm getting my ashes to stay.


Jon M. Richardson said...

This is what I said on a Facebook thread earlier today discussing this same thing:

It's being pushed in my diocese. I find it odd. Ashes on the forehead are already a challenge to the "rend your hearts, not your garments" thing and the "beware of practicing your piety in public" thing... Ashes to Go seems to be saying: rend your garments and practice your piety in public - it's all about the public display - not about the heart or anything to do with the God who sees in secret.

But yes, Elizabeth - who knows what effect it has on anyone. My problem with the trend is, I can imagine the effect that the "out of context" display might be having on some people.

the parson said...

eElizabeth, I agree with you. When you take the symbol and remove it from the context, much of the meaning is lost.

Annette said...

Last Ash Wednesday, I considered myself "spiritual, rather than religious". I was searching for a church and had been to churches of many denominations. Searching and longing, like so many others I know. Of the "spiritual rather than religous" crowd, of whom many of my friends still belong, it isn't that they aren't interested in church. It's that they haven't found a church they can believe in.

I am a newly baptized, newly confirmed Episcopalian (and obviously very wet behind the ears). And I have to tell you, the first time a priest put her hands on me, it was powerful. Life changing. Yes, it was inside a church. Would it have been as powerful on the street? Would receiving ashes alone have affected me the same way? I don't know. What I do know, is that within two minutes of speaking with her, I knew I had found home. Two minutes.

"How does the imposition of ashes on the forehead of someone standing at the platform of a commuter rail station or bus stop fully communicate the love of God incarnate in Christ Jesus?"
Even if just a glimpse into that love can be seen, isn't it all worth it? For me, it's not about the ashes.

Rev'd. Dr. Ronnie T. Stout-Kopp+ said...

My sister: AMEN! and thank you.
Rev'd. Dr. Ronnie T. Stout-Kopp+

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Jon - It's the "Who knows" question that is perplexing to me. On the one hand, it's a valid question. On the other hand, it's a desperate question, isn't it? I mean, are we really that desperate for members and numbers that we resort to symbols out of context? Doesn't that diminish the power of the symbol?

I'm asking a question.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

The parson - I think that's right but who am I to say anything about how the power of God works?

Broken pots and all that.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Amen, Annette. Amen.

And, not bad for a "wet behind the ears" Episcopalian.

May they never dry.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hi, Ronnie. I'm fascinated by the fact that just raising questions raises anger.

What has happened to The Episcopal Church where we can raise questions and doubt and concern?

IT said...

You know, there was exactly the same discussion last year, and as you note, unexpectedly passionate! Personally I like the idea (not that my opinion matters, but still….) because I like the idea of the radical welcome that steps outside the church door to extend the invitation.

The likeliest targets, I think, are those who cannot get to church who are probably very grateful that they still can still receive. And those who are searching for a home. Stepping through the doors of an unfamiliar church or even more, a new tradition can be very daunting. I think that the "ashes to go" movement is a tremendous outreach and invitation to come for a longer conversation. And anyone with a vaguely Christian background "gets" the meaning of ashes . It's not instead of the liturgy. It's not either/or. Why can't it be both/and?

No one is "imposing" them forcefully, but offering them. and I think it very doubtful that someone would receive them just for a lark.

In any case, I find it interesting how there's such a disagreement on this topic. What's particularly interesting is how it's juxtaposed with constant discussion of shrinking attendance and a need to reach the unchurched, the never-churched, the no-longer churched, or the (dare I say) spiritual but not religious. Again both/and, not either/or.

I think the REAL question the Lead should ask the clergy is whether any of those ashes-to-go conversations lleaead to something longer term. How many longer term relationships are enough to make it worth it? If you touch even one person and never see them again, does that make a difference?

Mary-Cauliflower said...

I remember this conversation from last year and really have no answer. But I'd like to throw in a couple of pennies as a laywoman, Eucharistic and non-Eucharistic visitor, Sunday School teacher, storyteller (Godly Play and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and plain old storytelling), choir singer, serial short-term missionary, and EfM leader. I've trained and practiced and done these things with an idea that I'm called to witness and testify to the good news, I'm not listing these various roles to brag or claim any qualification - just to say that my heart wants to serve and I have kind of a romantic notion of "taking it to the streets," or wherever else the people are.

I have been very moved on mission trips to see the Eucharist celebrated in a field or encampment of the landless or in a downtrodden neighborhood just before a children's party. I've loved being part of a pair of visitors in a hospital or nursing home or the dining room of a couple where one spouse is providing constant care to the other.

But my question is, Why ashes?

Is it because Ash Wednesday is about opening up a season of preparation? Are we as a church inviting new friends back to prepare for the Resurrection? Or would it open up a season in which we spend the Great 40 Days out among people who have left church (or feel that church has left them)? If it meant going out and listening or telling stories in a new way that opened up conversation - well, heck, I'd be all over that.

I have shared my perspective because it's different from yours, yet I too wonder where we go from there. I share Annette's perspective - that I have friends who are turned off by church, and I'm not sure I'd invite them to take on the complexities of parish life.

I apologize for all of this disorganized sharing. I guess I just want to say that I'm glad you are asking the question.

Full disclosure: I went to the early service at the Society of St. John the Evangelist Monastery this morning, and it was better than a swim in the ocean on a sweltering day.

IT said...

HEre's what I wrote about it last year which inspired a poem.

Matthew said...

I actually wish there were ashes to go this particular year. I'm very active -- a warden, worship leader and eucharistic visitor -- in my parish. But I overslept this a.m., have lunch meetings I cannot get out of, and have to teach this evening (yes I work too much and my work is too demanding this week). I know, excuses, excuses. So, it looks like I will miss it entirely this year, other than reading your blog or listening to sermons online late late this evening when I get home while lying in bed. If I could walk outside during my free hours today (10:00 a.m. to 11:30; 2:00 to 3:30 p.m.) and see a priest, or a mini short service, or even ashes to go, I'd do it.

Anonymous said...

I agree that taking a symbol from its context reduces the potency of the symbol. BUT -- and it is a big but -- for me much of the power of Ash Wednesday is in the reflection on Isaiah and II Corinthians. My lenten experience in recent years is turning me more outward rather than inward. What kind of fast does God desire of me?
It has taken me years just to get to what I think the real question is. Years of reflection on ash wednesdays stretching back a decade or more. My conversion brought me into the church so that I COULD hear and reflect. Before that experience, I was oblivious.
But the blithely oblivious need ministry too. If a touch can awaken a heart, then I say we should go into the streets and touch, and awaken hearts. The rest is grace.
Lou, in Sunnyvale

Anonymous said...


Thank you for your blog posting. It's interesting that I had a discussion with a clergy friend on this same topic after his 12;00 Ash Wednesday Service.

Like you, just asking a question.

There weren't many Deacon's taking the ashes to the world (train stations, hardware store, sidewalk in front of the church).

One side, for me, might be Evangelism, but will those who received the Ashes come inside the doors of an Episcopal Church in the coming Sundays?

Or, is it another reason not to come to church, because I'm too busy, they'll come to me.

But isn't this day more than Ashes (to go)?

If it were a business, one might say Good PR. But what is going to bring those who were served, into our empty pews on Sunday, rather then at a soccer, baseball, football, etc, game.

Again, Thank you for your thoughts and question on this topic.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

IT - my question is: why is this a function of deacon/priest/bishop only? Isn't this something a member of the laity can do?

The more I think about it, the more curious I become.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Mary-C: Thanks for your thoughts. If they were "disorganized" I was still able to follow them without difficulty

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I LOVE your poem, IT.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Matthew, I think this sort of service is perfect for you. I'm not at all concerned about the symbol being out of context for you.

IT said...

Actually, Elizabeth, I think you u the power and authority of a collar. Think of it: someone alone, hasn't been to church in years, offered (as a gift) the most humble yet important of reminders of the trnsience of life; important regardless but add those words of welcome, please come to see us on Sunday, with the symbolism ofa collar-- I think it's pretty potent, even if atavistic! But of course I grew up rOman.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Lou - I hear you. I'm not sure how to respond to you, but I hear you.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks for your comments, Anonymous. Next time, please leave your name.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I don't mean to be tedious about this, IT, but what if it were a lay person in a cassock and surplice? And another lay person similarly dressed standing nearby with a processional cross? Are those enough symbols of the authority of the church to do the trick?

Matthew said...

I'm finally home from my long day at work -- never did get ashes this year but as I read these comments i really do think this is perfect for the laity. Makes sense to me. Or at least a priest and a lay person could do it together. I also don't know why there could not be a handout explaining th significance the way we do when we do home communion visits. Wew hand out a liturgy or lectionary readings. People could take it home and reflect on it. It could explain the purpose of the ashes. Also, you could do impromptu liturgies if it were not busy. Just read a litany with someone. I work on a college campus and very frequenly there are the evangelical Jesus freaks standing on sidewalks handing out new testaments to any student that will take one. Some students begin a dialogue with them or they pray together. Unless the hoardes were clamoring for ashes in long lines there is an opportunity for dialogue, liturgy and meeting lay people as part of the process.

janinsanfran said...

What I like about ashes at the subway station is who I see stopping for them in my neighborhood: Spanish speaking working women and mothers with kids, obviously from Catholic cultures, who would never set foot in an Episcopal church. They also probably only relate to the RC church sporadically, if at all. But they carry a sense that ashes sometime in February is a right thing for them and their kids and these odd people (clerical and lay in this case) are providing them.

I like to see it.

IT said...

I don't know , Elizabeth. It might do. I tell ya, get BP (verger in training) out there with her big stick, and that might be just the thing!

I'm glad you like my poem. One comes up with those things on the train platform.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Matthew - I think your day and the remembrance of Ash Wednesdays past reminded you of your own mortality.

I think some places did offer pamphlets and words of instruction. At least that's what I'm hearing. Makes the heart glad.

As for laity, I think it could totally work. I think it is, in fact, a powerful statement about the work of ministry.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Janisandfran- I like the image as well. I just hope there is some context for image and symbol.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

IT - Poetry is everywhere because life is everywhere - even on a train station platform.

Hutch said...

Having just left an Episcopal church where the prior rector did a lot of "to go" kind of thing - I wonder as well. We found an entire congregation that didn't know much about the Episcopal Church and didn't want to - they were "their church" and didn't need to be anything else. We ran into a lot of anger in trying to teach why we do things - a congregation that said they really didn't care, they did them this way and always had - and a strange mix of things it was - and not the least bit interested in looking at any mission work and seeing if it could be grown instead of sitting in its old form forever. I still have a lot of anger at that rector for leaving a congregation in the "to go" mindset. For the pain we suffered in walking into that minefield with no knowledge of the mines. I don't know, Elizabeth - "to go" may be okay if you understand the theology behind it - but I went and got my ashes in church, said the prayers WITH the people and came home holy. So, a little rant and a little sadness - probably appropriate for Lent.

Jeffri Harre said...

The priest of my parish and I stood on the sidewalk outside the neighborhood Dunkin Donuts from 6:50 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. This is the same place where she holds an open table for an hour or so four afternoons a week, so it was done in the context of our parish's presence in the neighborhood.

Each person of the dozen or so people that stoppe for ashes was offered an opportunity for prayer and given a leaflet (in Spanish and English) with prayers for the whole season of Lent. Some shared a story with us--including one who shared a story but did not receive ashes. I know that for each of them it was a moving experience in one way or another.

We also had a service in English at midday and a bilingual service in the evening. Were the folks that attended those services truly any more connected than those who received on the sidewalk in the morning?

Kirkepiscatoid said...

I know this much. I think in the last three years, "Ashes to Go" has sparked more press inches about Ash Wednesday than I've ever seen in my entire life--and if doing it is only to continue the conversation about "how do we bring the church to a hurting world," and "what do we do or say to bring them in the door as a result of this or any activity in the streets?" I really don't care who likes Ashes to Go or not--but I do care we keep the conversation flowing!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hutch - I think the past generation of clergy have really failed us by not doing good catechetics. And, I would venture to add that I think the big problem in TEC today is that we don't know who we are because of that. We reap what we sow.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Jeffri - I think the answer to your question is in your first statement: It was done in the context of your church's presence in the community on days other than Ash Wednesday.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Amen, Kirke. Except, I do care about more than conversation. I'm not asking for uniformity. I'm asking for clarity and consistency in theology and function.

Kirkepiscatoid said...

Well, and as you know, I am on the other side of this discussion (I don't have a problem with "Ashes to Go" in the simplest abstract form--except for the name itself, where I do feel it sounds too "fast food") but I have some thoughts: 1. What else is happening to invite the recipients into deeper relationship? (If the answer is "nothing," I don't like that. 2. That said, I think it's important to trust the Holy Spirit to know the Holy Spirit's business in individual cases. 3. Five years from now, I would like to have a hand count of people who ended up in the church because of this experience, and I would like to hear what they have to say.

My gut feeling is this is the dance we always do between the secular and the sacred, which means there is going to be discomfort on both sides of the fence. I've been following this one for three Ash Wednesdays now, and I'm ready to see some data and hear some stories. Otherwise, like you said, we're not moving the conversation forward.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Kirke - I would be happy with a theology and a protocol with some basic components, allowing for lots of flexibility for local implementation. And, I'd love to see an impact study to address some of the questions you raise.

I'm not holding my breath.

JCF said...

I like the practice of Ashes-to-Go, better than the name.

[Natch, I got my ashes in the midst of Eucharist]

MarkBrunson said...

My objection on the "to go" thing is more philosophical, I suppose, than theological.

Given that the Church should be leading the resistance to the valueless values of the materialistic world, it seems to me catering to quicker turn-around is the most direct and culpable way of contributing to the corrupting effects of just that person-devaluing corruption.

We need to encourage time for the things that enrich us as individuals, not subordinate them to work, the making-and-spending of wealth, the obsessive/addictive "entertainments," and - most of all - the entirely human construct of the schedule, time - running to-and-fro as slaves to a clock, which brings us to a worldview which makes us cogs, rather than clockmakers.

To take time is to be human.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Mark - That's a great philosophy that easily translates into a theology of work and the human enterprise.

Would that more people hear you.

Thank you.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

JCF - I agree that that's part of the turnoff. Sounds like McChurch.

Jackie said...

Thanks Elizabeth. You did a beautiful job articulating my queasiness with this practice (I am not a radical open table fan either, but that is another multi-volume set!).

Part of my disquiet revolved around the trite phrase, "to go." What about "Ashes to the world," or something that made the practice seem thoughtful rather than trivial? Reading through the comments, the practice makes more sense if a church already has a street presence. But the random, out-of-context presence of people in albs with little bowls of burnt palms seems showy and cheap.

We need to embrace who we are, and while being welcoming and inclusive is an essential part of our call, we must also remain true to who and what we are, otherwise we will, like Yeats falcon, turn and turn in a widening gyre until we cannot hear our falconer, and thing will fall apart as the center can no longer hold.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, Jackie. I think the "Ashes to Go" does disservice to what I hear its proponents offering.

Rev Dr Mom said...

Thanks for this great discussion,mto which I am obviously late. Much of my discomfort and ponderings about this have been articulated here. But the one big thing for me is, "Why ashes?" I mean out of all the wonderful things we do in the church, why this one? In the totally grand scheme of things, the imposition of ashes is relatively minor. Would we be comfortable with Eucharist to go? Baptism to go? How about doing Morning Prayer on the subway platform?

I do think it is worth thinking about why people are so receptive to the ashes. Of course some of them are church goers who don't have time to get to a service, but I'd guess that many are people who rarely if ever darken the door of a church. Why are ashes compelling to them? How else/what else can we offer to people on the street to really convey what is so important to us and to feed the hunger than is clearly there?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

RevDrMom - You're never too late to a discussion here. You ask a good question. I remember hearing somewhere that the two highest attended services of the year are Palm Sunday and Ash Wednesday. The writer posited that the reason was due to the fact that people leave the church with visible and tangible evidence that they had, in fact, come to church.

That raises my suspicion about the reason people come to have ashes "imposed" on their heads. Is it "spiritual" or is it personal "PR" for their own spirituality?

I don't know. But, I suspect you would hear howls of outrage if we started "Eucharist to go" or "Baptism to go".

I think I'll be asking this question next year.

Jackie said...

@Rev Dr Mom,

Ashes are not formally "sacramental," so there is no Canonical restriction as to their imposition. That is the structural answer. They are simple, portable, and can be imposed by any order of ministry. If one were to perform baptism and/or eucharist to go, not only would one be degrading those sacraments, but one would also be violating the Canons (assuming one is subject to the Canons or disciplines of a particular denomination).

Anonymous said...

Ashes to go?

Is there any Christian belief, practice, or custom that TEC cannot trivialize?

Granted, this ashes thing is small potatoes compared to unbelieving bishops (e.g. Spong), truncated sacraments, women's ordination, same-sex marriage, lay presidency at the Eucharist, communion to the unbaptized, and the like. Is there anything beyond the reductionalist drive of TECsters?


Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Michael, Michael, Michael! You know, your hyperbole gives conservatives a bad name. Indeed, you might just one day be mistaken for a flamer. Sit down. Take a deep breath. Put some cucumber slices on your eyes and a hot towel over them. Then, have a nice, hot cup of tea. The sky is NOT falling because a few well intentioned Christians are involved in "Ashes to Go". BTW, and FYI: the RC's have been doing this for years and years and YEARS!!!!

Jackie said...

Lovely reply to Michael, Elizabeth. And to add to the CORRECTED list of abominations, I do believe that it is the arch-conservative diocese of Sydney, Australia that rather oddly permits and promotes lay presidency :)

I wish for you, Michael, a blessed Lent and a nice lavender sachet for under your pillow; I find the scent promotes peaceful thoughts and sound rest.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Jackie - I don't know if Sydney permits it YET but they have been very vocal in promoting the idea.

I think I'm going to start making Lavender sachets and handing them out to folks like Michael who stop by from time to time and drop a few uber-conservative bombs and then duck and run.

Jackie said...

Let me--as a fellow EDS alum--to thank you for this wonderful blog. I just started reading it, and find the discourse refreshingly bright and kind. I can use some practice in the latter virtue, and propose that we start The Order of the Lavender Sachet to spread good will among those with whom we have disagreement. It would be so much more pleasant than suggesting doors meet posteriors!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, Jackie. I think we definitely could use more of those Lavender Sachets in cyberspace - on both sides of any issue.

When where you at ED'S Place? ;~)

Jackie said...

I was at Ed'S from 1997 to 2001 (I took the four year plan as I worked multiple jobs equaling full time and had a teenage daughter). I stayed on an extra year to do some post-grad study in liturgical theology.
Those were golden years. Although far from trouble-free, I was truly madly deeply happy. I loved studying, learning, teaching, preaching, leading, collaborating, scrapping, reconciling, worshiping, chanting, singing, holding and being held, celebrating, and mourning. In short, I was fully alive and was able to use my (sometimes dubious) gifts and passions in ways that were meaningful and appreciated. I was pushed and pulled. I resisted and yielded. I grew in ways I never could have imagined. Lord, how I miss the synergy of that sweet community, especially having been there during something of a Golden Age, with a full, vibrant faculty, the presence of my dear friends at Weston Jesuit, and terrific peers. Sigh....

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Ah, you were there long after I had left - about 11 years later. I was there last year, just about this time, as a Proctor Scholar. I, like you, love, love, LOVE EDS. What an amazing place.