Peace garden remembers 9/11

By Gus Bode

Construction began on the Labyrinth Peace Garden the morning of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Eight years later, community members still walk the garden in remembrance of that day and at 8 p.m. tonight an informal gathering will begin, providing guests with an opportunity to speak their minds and share their grief.


Hugh Muldoon, Gaia House-Interfaith Center director where the labyrinth is located, said people gathered the evening of the Sept. 11 attacks to be in a ‘sacred and safe place’ and express deep feelings of confusion, sadness and other emotions.

‘If more of us walked the labyrinth together, we just might make this world a better place,’ Muldoon said.

He said Sept. 11 brought people to the realization the world is a violent place to live and each anniversary is a time when people should pause to consider cultural differences throughout the world and work harder to understand each other.

The labyrinth shares its birthday with the attacks of Sept. 11 as construction began approximately fifteen minutes before the first plane hit the North tower of the World Trade Center, Bob Swenson, a member of the center’s board of directors and architect of the labyrinth, said.

Swenson said he was unaware of the attacks for most of the morning or otherwise the construction that day might have been postponed. Swenson said he recalls being very confused and wondering if the nation was under attack.

The center’s labyrinth is a circular maze-like path, leading only to one destination – the center.

‘It’s a metaphor for life,’ Swenson said.


He said he combined the design of the Buckminster Fuller dome that once sat in the labyrinth’s place, with the Chartres Cathedral in France. Swenson said the labyrinth is like a church without walls.

Muldoon said the labyrinth is a gift to the community.

SIUC graduate Julie Grey said she really enjoys the herbs surrounding the labyrinth.’ She said she once walked the labyrinth after a bad day and found tranquility.

‘It was comforting,’ she said.