oh boy


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    In all seriousness I took a death and dying course in college for fun and that’s when I fell in love with, and began to seriously study, spontaneous or “street shrines”. These are the organic, unplanned placements of items when someone is killed, generally, and the community almost descends on a spot. I am fascinated by that interfaith, inter-spirit moment of connection fostered. What drives someone to leave the first item? Who guides them there? What do we, as humans, seek from the leaving of a memorial on a place that now hallowed? And we know it is, to some extent, even if we’re not spirit-workers. We have this human need to bear witness, no matter who we are, and over and over again it manifests as this need to build some space, some monument that says “they were here, and now they aren’t here, and we, collectively, of all faiths and walks of life, strangers to each other, will remember them”

    We take comfort in, and protect to some measure, that space we create with tea-light candles and stuffed bears and flowers and it just feels like the Right Thing to Do. We rebuild these spaces when they are torn down by authority and we keep building them up and that’s beautiful

    Street shrines are TRULY universal, too. They are largely non-verbal but it’s like we just KNOW what to do, like something moves inside all of us and it doesn’t fucking matter if we can’t understand anyone else standing at the site, it’s just a Knowing. It’s phenomenal 

    One of my professors specializes in this, she wrote a book called Roadside Crosses in Contemporary Memorial Culture about her fieldwork in Texas.