Among other things, today’s work has involved burning crosses — palm crosses, that is, for tomorrow’s Ash Wednesday service.
We’re going to try this service with the congregation joining via Zoom and just a priest and lay reader joining me in the church, where I will mainly play a technical support role as well as leading a worship song. Part of that technical support is getting the ash ready and so I picked up a couple of crosses from last year, the traditional material to use for the purpose.
It turned out to be a lot harder than I expected. I lit a candle and put it on the hearth in my fireplace, along with a clean metal dish nearby. I thought the crosses would go up very quickly but it turned out that I had to coax them along, lighting a bit, knocking off the burned portion in the dish and then burning another section.
I suspect you might get a better fire going with a bunch of crosses but, for three of us, I think I’ve got enough. One other tip — don’t try to blow on the flame to encourage it. I attempted that early on and discovered just how light the existing ashes were. I’m grateful for a generous sized hearth to work on!