Marsha Guenzler-Stevens

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Marsha Guenzler-Stevens


A tornado. Several student deaths. 9/11. These were the cataclysmic events that all rattled the University of Maryland campus in 2001–shaking the student body to its core.

Marsha, a university administrator, realized there was a terrific need for a safe place where students could process these events—a place to nourish, restore and find much-needed perspective. She knew it needed to be in nature—and she knew it needed to foster healing and community. She knew it needed to be a Sacred Place.

This last bit—community—is a vital part of Marsha’s mindset. Her conviction is that people, together, can tap into a higher power—we’re stronger and capable of great things when unified. Nature is just the vehicle to do it.

She inspired various other stakeholders in the University to get involved–together, they envisioned a Sacred Place on the campus for contemplation and reflection that housed a labyrinth:

“You have a bit of a dream — informed by others’ dreams. You get great people to have conversations with you. You formulate a shared dream. You advocate with all the powers that be. You find friends to support you. You dream and plan some more (that consultative process!) and then you use the skills and talents of many and many drafts of a plan to arrive at a ‘dream come true’.”

When asked what inspires her as a Firesoul:

“Faith—a genuine belief in the goodness of human beings, a strong belief that people in community—including the community of folks writing in journals—can be transformative, and a strong belief that we must all listen to our own heads and hearts.”


Photo credit: Maureen Porto. 

My Sacred Place


University of Maryland Garden of Reflection and Remembrance

The University of Maryland College Park’s interfaith garden and labyrinth rests at Memorial Chapel in the heart of campus. The garden was envisioned by a forward-thinking Student Affairs Department in partnership with an interfaith campus community, then designed by UMCP landscape architecture students themselves.

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