Peloton of Ghost Bikes in Kalamazoo

June 09, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

First there were crosses. In response to a horrific incident the markings came quickly. An erratic driver swerved into a group of cyclists near Cooper Township near Kalamazoo County, Michigan, killing five and seriously injuring four. The next day, white ghost bikes were added to each cross. Pen markings note the names of the cyclists and the date, June 7, 2016 of the tragedy.   A parade of ... Read More

Suddenly Sacred

Memorial For A Grim Statistic

June 07, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

Number 60. It literally is a statistic, but it’s also more than that. The name on the white wooden cross is too faded to read. I could only make out the letters “Z” and “A” at the top of the cross, and what looks like “Rest in Peace.” on the two arms. Checking various sources, I’ve determined this memorial marks the spot where, on Saturday, October 13, 2012 at 6:14 pm at the 7800 block of ... Read More

Suddenly Sacred

Hiroshima Shrine Is A Memorial for Peace

May 27, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

Many have noted that today’s visit by President Obama to Hiroshima marked the first visit ever by an American President while in office. I was interested in the location. The shrine established near ground zero, the impact site when the bomb was dropped nearly 70 years ago.   The site is in the center of the city. In fact, it’s on the site of what once was the commercial and governmental center ... Read More

Suddenly Sacred / Memorial / Sacred Symbols

Clear Lake, TX Shrine Connection to Kenner, LA Couple

May 21, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

Today, I have to give a shout out to Larry and Karen Daigle of Kenner, Louisiana. Larry and Karen contacted me after I posted about the shrine at the tree where their grandson, Joseph Lesky, died in February this year. They’ve called me and e-mailed to express their appreciation and to share with me how they are still grieving at his loss. My wife and I come to Clear Lake regularly to see our ... Read More

Suddenly Sacred

The Family Car as an Expression of Faith

May 15, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

The idea of using a car for advertising isn’t new, even advertising one’s faith isn’t new. The fish symbol has been quite popular, as have various window decals with crosses.  But I’m noticing the number of ways people are transforming their cars with more than bumper stickers.   Earlier in the week, I pulled up behind this car with window, trunk, and bumper sayings. We were at a stoplight, so I ... Read More

Suddenly Sacred / Sacred Symbols

A Sign From A Man Who Met Jesus

May 11, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

This afternoon, I met a man who saw Jesus and was willing to share his story with me. Driving from Seguin to Universal City, I decided to follow the grey path on my GPS, the one that takes a bit longer and has more local roads. Within minutes, I passed a sign in front of a trim house telling me that Jesus is coming soon. I thought this might be the location of a house church, or perhaps yard with ... Read More

Suddenly Sacred / Liturgical Arts

Discovering the Officer Billy Dan Howry Memorial

May 10, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

In the dark, pulled off the access road of a jam-packed highway, we stumbled upon the Billy Dan Howry Memorial completely by happenstance, or maybe it was somehow predestined. Here's the story, and you decide how it was that we discovered it.     My colleague, Richard Peña and I were driving back from a committee meeting on I-35, when we suddenly were stopped in backed up traffic just north of ... Read More

Suddenly Sacred

Revisiting James O'brien Fallen Officer Memorial in Temple, Texas

May 05, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

This memorial in Temple, Texas is one of the first I stopped to really examine. For years I’d been noticing so many roadside markers and shrines, it finally occurred to me that there was something to be learned by looking more closely. That first visit was years ago, before my own son decided to become a police officer. Today, I was back in the area and with a new appreciation for the shrine, I ... Read More

Suddenly Sacred

May Day Memorials for Erica and Elias

May 01, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

Our neighborhood shrine has a new look. I’ve blogged in the past about this suddenly sacred site on Airport Blvd where a drunk driver took the lives of 16 year old Erica Marie Vasquez and her 5 year old nephew, Elias Sanchez. Earlier this year, I recorded a short interview with Debra Vasquez, Erica’s mother, who frequently returns to the site to feel close to her daughter and to tend to the ... Read More

Suddenly Sacred / Austin

Backyard Shrine is a Public Landmark in East Austin

April 28, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

Every couple of days I drive up Pleasant Valley Road and pass this very Catholic image. A crucifix draped in rosary beads would be expected in a Catholic church, cemetery, or shrine. But here, along a busy road, the crucifix is set against a backyard fence, in clear view of the street and right next to the sidewalk. Though a sign at the driveway warns that this property is private and that anyone ... Read More

Suddenly Sacred / Austin