Skip To Top NavigationSkip To ContentSkip To Section NavigationSkip To Footer
Bulldog News

SC State faculty members contribute to historic Mepkin Abbey for meditation garden design

Author: Sam Watson, Director of University Relations|Published: May 17, 2024|All News, Faculty & Staff News

Meditation garden
Historic Mepkin Abbey Trappist Monastery’s Truth & Reconciliation Meditation Garden at Monck’s Corner.

Drs. Frank Martin and Alison Mc Letchie
ORANGEBURG, S.C. –  Two South Carolina State University faculty members have helped bring to fruition a collaborative project with the Mepkin Abbey Trappist Monastery in Moncks Corner South Carolina.

The SC State faculty members helped devise the concept for the Truth & Reconciliation Meditation Garden associated with a compelling installation of bronze sculpture at the Mepkin site.

Dr. Alison Mc Letchie of the Department of Social Sciences and Dr. Frank Martin of the Department of Visual & Performing Arts collaborated with a team of contributors, led by Father Superior Joseph Tedesco to support Mepkin Abbey in creating a meditative space.

The Truth & Reconciliation Meditation Garden is near the historic cemetery on the grounds of the former Laurens Family Plantation.

Along with Mc Letchie and Martin, the committee included Kathleen Merrit, director of black catholic ministries in the Diocese of Charleston; Pastor Eleanor Brown, representing the Office of Faith-Based Communities Outreach for the International African American Museum; and Dr. Larry M. Deschaine, permanent deacon for Native American ministries of the Diocese of Charleston.

“Thy Father’s Hand” by Garland Weeks
The contemplation meander is anchored by a larger-than-life-size bronze sculpture created by Texas artist Garland Weeks and donated by Dora Ann and James J. Reaves Jr. of Summerville.

The sculpture entitled “Thy Father’s Hand” provides an image of the crucified Christ reclining in a representation of the “Divine Hand of God,” symbolizing the relationship to faith intended for the garden’s visitors to achieve.

Martin suggested the form of the meditation walk’s meander path, which represents a "lemniscate" or "infinity" symbol (∞) so that visitors may meditate upon an inevitable journey into eternity and a contemplative search for inner peace.

The meander’s design is composed of local grey "tabby," a form of cement selected by Tedesco and one which is particularly suitable for use in the historic South Carolina Low Country region. This resilient material is intended to serve as a walkway for visitors who may come to the space to visit the historic cemetery, despite variable weather conditions, and view the moving bronze sculpture.

Seven meditation stanchions with texts developed by the entire collaborative team and supplemented with prayers by Brother Kyle Berceau of Mepkin have been placed around the meander pathway.

In the space near where the meander crosses itself is a "tabula rasa" in the form of a blank, upright stone. The stone symbolizes the lost history of the displaced, enslaved Africans in the Low Country, whose unmarked graves at the site make a testament to their labor, which helped transform the site into a beautiful retreat. In addition, this symbolic “empty slate” alludes to the erasure and removal of indigenous communities and their hunters who utilized the site in the past.

The project, which has been in process since 2021, was completed this month. An accompanying prayer guide -- featuring supporting scriptures and prayers intended to facilitate the meditation of visitors -- was compiled and selected by Brother Kyle Berceau shortly before his death.

The public is encouraged to visit the grounds of the historic abbey or access the site virtually.

Visit Mepkin Abbey Trappist Monastery