SPRINGFIELD — Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Christian season of Lent, the run-up to Easter and spring.
But you wouldn’t know it this Ash Wednesday as temperatures stuck stubbornly in the 20s and commuters, bundled against the wind, rushed past the Rev. Tom Callard, dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Springfield.
Callard and two other representatives from the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts — Rev. Dcn. Linda Taupier and seminarian Joel Martinez — went out Wednesday with ashes and a sign.
“Good morning! ” Callard called out. “Today is Ash Wednesday. We’re giving out Ashes to anyone who wants them.”
Sometimes he was ignored. Sometimes he got a polite wave of acknowledgment. One woman hopped off a bus to get her ashes.
When security at Union Station asked them to leave they headed to Main Street and a few busy stores on State Street.
Jennifer Murphy, regional property manager for Appleton Corp. which manages Union Station, said security staffers at Union Station interpreted the ashes as a solicitation. Management doesn’t agree and the reverends are invited back.
The ashes are less a sacrament than a yearly reminder of what Callard called “our precious mortality.”
“Sometimes we can be too attached to our own lives,” he said. “We need to learn to let go. We are in good hands.”
Episcopal churches have been doing ashes on the street for about 10 years, he said.
“We want to show that God is active, and proactive, in our lives,” Callard said.
The Cathedral also planned traditional, indoor church services Wednesday.