Karen Gann Testimonial

From: Mary Gann, Chair
St. John’s Cathedral Labyrinth Committee, Knoxville, TN

Re: 9/11/2001 Labyrinth Experience

St. John's Cathedral Labyrinth

I live close to the cathedral, and so am called upon to facilitate walks pretty regularly. September 11, 2001 the Episcopal Church Women had their conference here at St. John’s. I was scheduled to give a 10:15am lecture and then facilitate their walk.

At around 9:00am my daughter called, and as calmly as she could, asked me to turn on CNN and tell her what I saw. I turned the TV on just in time to see the second plane go into the second World Trade Center tower. The moment that changed everything.

As I got to the cathedral I quickly realized that there were two groups of people; those glued to a radio or television, and those who had been in meetings all morning and didn’t know yet. It became abundantly clear that people were finding out about the terrorist attack between meetings, as those coming into the room had the same stunned look that I wore. The lecture was forgettable, me unable to clearly communicate, the participants unable to absorb anything beyond what they had just learned.

We went outside to the labyrinth and I witnessed something that will forever stay with me. I know that we built the labyrinth for times like this. It was the most amazing thing I have ever witnessed. The ECW participants, most of whom had never seen a labyrinth, seemed mesmerized by it. As the ladies slowly began their walk, people from the street passing by came in and joined them. The meetings dissolved and the workday dissolved and classes dissolved, overcome by the need to try to make sense out of what was senseless. This continued throughout the day; collars and business suits, ripped jeans and barefoot, age, color, gender, religion all came to this touchstone, trying to find some healing; swaying, touching and being touched.

I have two pebbles that I picked up during one of my many walks that day. They sit on my desk and remind me of the ruins of the WTC. They remind me to take nothing for granted. But mostly they make me so very proud to have been involved in bringing the labyrinth to St. John’s. It is my touchstone, it is our touchstone, and it is my legacy to the city of Knoxville that it will, with God’s help, be here for generations to come.

Karen C. Gann