December 28, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

The end of the year approaches and of course I’m looking back at this year of blogging. The idea of writing about objects or spaces associated with faith, religion, or spirituality came spontaneously last December 31. A book my wife had ordered was delivered moments before we jumped in the car to drive to the country for New Years. The book, the 365 Journal, by artist and author Noah Scalin is all about creating something every day for a year. As an architect and church specialist, I’ve experienced so many ways that faith is expressed. So why not share these observations in a daily blog?

 Joey and Cruz memorial.jpg

Many of the past year’s blogs have focused on spontaneous memorials that spring up at the site of a disaster or tragedy. I’ve used the term suddenly sacred to describe the phenomenon, though other terms, descanso, roadside shrine, informal memorial all apply. I’ve followed several of these sites as family and friends have updated or changed their compositions over time.

 Joey and Cruz tree bark.jpg

In Clear Lake, Texas, across the street from the Boeing offices, a tragic accident took the life of two young friends, Joey Lesky and his friend Cruz. The two were killed when their truck slid off the road and slammed into a tree trunk. Joey died at the scene on February 15, 2016. Cruz passed away four days later. I gleaned a few clues from my first visit to the impromptu assemblage around the tree. But the rest of the story has come from the family as they continue to add to the shrine. And they also contacted me directly to thank me for sharing, and to fill in additional information.

 Cross Notes for Joey Lesky.jpg

These photos come from my stop by the site this morning. New crosses have been added, with a lot of new messages written on them. These intimate notes, though shared with the public, are personal and directed to both young men as though they were there to read them. Other powerful details include the offerings left behind. The dog-tag on Joey’s cross includes the saying: “Never drive faster than your Guardian Angel can fly.”

 Jeoy Cross w Dog Tag.jpg

I’ll continue to monitor this site in 2017. As the anniversary of the event approaches, I’m certain the family will wish to share more offerings. And each time they connect with their shrine, they offer observers small insights about what goes in to making a place sacred.

 Memorial Bay Area Drive.jpg

3700 Block of Bay Area Boulevard, Clear Lake, Houston, Texas

Suddenly Sacred/ Memorial