KAPAA — Jerry and Jan Halstead of Cedar Park, Texas knew they would not be ready in time for the Ash Wednesday service at All Saints Episcopal Church and Preschool.
“We’ve been stand up paddling all day at the end of the road,” Jerry said. “That’s as far north as one can drive. We won’t be ready for the evening service so we’re getting our ash from the Ashes to Go station.”
Rev. Ryan Newman of All Saints church said there was a motorist pulling in who said she completely forgot about the services and would otherwise not be able to celebrate Ash Wednesday.
“I’m heading to a meeting now,” said Sean Ornellas. “It won’t be done in time for the evening service so I’m getting my ashes now.”
Those were among the reasons people stopped on Ash Wednesday at the Ashes to Go station set up along Kuhio Highway in Kapaa, fronting the All Saints Church. Newman expected about 100 people to stop by.
“We do Ashes to Go at the railroad station at home,” said Jan Halstead, a deacon for a church in Cedar Park. “But we need to be there by 7 a.m. to get the commuters.”
Ash Wednesday marks the start of the Lenten season in preparation for Easter. This is a time of contemplation, reflection, and really preparing the heart and soul for the death and resurrection of Christ, Jan said. The ash is a visual symbol of one’s readiness for the Lenten season.
Lent ends on Easter Sunday, April 1.
Nelia Luna, a nurse at Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital, proudly wore her ashen cross on her forehead during the festivities of the hospital’s first Valentine’s Day party.
“We called the minister,” Luna said. “He came to the hospital to give ashes to anyone who wanted it. There are other nurses who are going to wait until tonight’s mass.”
Newman said Ash Wednesday and its related observances are among his favorite days of being an Episcopalian minister.
“I love it,” Newman said. “We get to go out into the community and watch people while raising awareness on one of our significant days. We have other fun things during Lent as well. I’ll be painting the labyrinth and setting out lights. When it’s lit up at night, there are so many people who come to walk it. We’ll probably set out Gregorian music on one of those nights. That’ll make it even more special.”
Jan said she grew up a Baptist and didn’t know anything about Ash Wednesday.
“I learned about this when someone invited me to a Presbyterian church,” she said. “So, I know Presbyterians celebrate Ash Wednesday, along with Episcopalians, Catholics, and Methodist churches.”