Ash Wednesday sacred space wrap up

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In the next post I’ll put up the sacred space i did yesterday – it was prepared for my work colleagues. It was OK. i was happy with the stuff i’d prepared beforehand (that rarely happens!), but when i got into the space it felt too cluttered – i think the words, or the themes, of ash wednesday overfilled the room. Ash Wednesday needs to be done in a big, empty warehouse, with echoes, or a cathedral with the pews removed, rather than a prettily carpeted and windowed chapel…

I only had 45 minutes for set up, so it had to be easy and low tech. my original plan had been to black out the windows and to project images of static onto the walls and windows, but that required a few hours of setting up, and would have alienated all except for about 3 of the participants. Plan B was to go with an overload of ashes.

It’s hard to get ashes in Melbourne in February, and we needed a lot of them (i should just have driven to Yarra Glen where there were bushfires earlier this week). Luckily, someone i work with doesn’t clean his fireplace out very often, so he had some left from last winter… This winter I need to remember to store a few icecream containers of ashes to have, just in case, for whatever we might want to do next year.

[there’s a quite funny story about buying the incense resin, but i need to tell it face to face…]

Although the space was self explanatory, we were burning charcoal so I had to be there the whole time. I was thinking, as i watched people move in and out that i know so many of them have a story of tragedy or pain or devastation from the last year. i suddenly felt very nervous about the idea that we were doing these massive themes of death, mortality and sin… and i wondered what it costs people to encounter those themes. I’m feeling a real unease about that, and i don’t quite know why.