Cramer, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Grand Haven, was offering “Ashes to Go.” He said it was for people who didn’t have time to stop into a church on Ash Wednesday and receive the sign of the cross with ashes, and because the day is about inviting people into the Lenten season.
“I hope that, even if they didn’t stop, I reminded them what today is,” he said.
Cramer braved the chilly morning commute time between 7:30 and 9:30, and again from 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Still, only a handful of people stopped for Cramer to rub palm ashes in the shape of the cross onto their forehead while saying, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."
Cramer said the movement of “Ashes to Go” began several years back, and he didn’t consider doing it until a friend in Detroit raved about his community’s positive feedback from it.
Cramer said it was an overall pleasant experience for him, with many motorists honking, waving or taking pictures on their cell phones. One friendly person even brought him hot chocolate from a local coffee shop, he said.
“It’s a lot more fun than I thought it would be,” he said.
Not all passersby shared his enthusiasm. Cramer said he brushed off the car full of teens who drove past claiming they love the devil.
For next year’s “Ashes to Go,” Cramer said he might consider another location or a different sign to avoid any confusion of the type of ashes he was offering.