On March 1, the Christian world celebrated Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent, a time of preparation, prayer, and fasting looking ahead to Easter next month. Many Christian denominations take part in a ritual of placing ashes on the forehead as a sign of repentance and a reminder that “from dust you came; to dust you shall return.”
This year, in conjunction with the Diocese of San Jose, PACT, and several religious groups, SiVIC co-sponsored an interfaith gathering to lift up our common religious aspiration to be a “Compassionate Community,“ acknowledging that there are many obstacles that prevent us from realizing Compassion: our very selves and the social realities in our community.
The service was in two parts: First, a gathering in the courtyard of the San Jose City Hall to hear testimonies, sacred texts calling for transformation and a reminder of being committed to a Compassionate Community. Speakers included members of the Baha’i, Muslim, Unitarian, Kriya Yoga and Christian traditions. The group then processed to the meeting hall of First Christian Church, where those who wished to receive ashes from Rev. Nichole Lamarche of the Silicon Valley Progressive Christian Community and Rev. Jennifer Goto of St. Paul United Methodist Church.
This gathering marked the beginning of “90 Days of Compassion,” a period that will encompass multiple religious feasts and traditions that fall between March 1 and June 3 and speak to both personal and social transformation.