THOMAS MERTON AT DISCOED
16 - 29 JULY 2015 - 10.00 to 17.30 daily
THOMAS MERTON EXHIBITION INCLUDING An afternoon OF TALKS on saturday 25 July
On the centenary of his birth, there will be a celebration of the intriguing and complex life of Thomas Merton at St Michael's Church in Discoed. An exhibition will explore some of the many facets of the poet-monk through paintings, photographs and text plus an afternoon of talks on Saturday 25th July.
The exhibition will consist of paintings by Charles MacCarthy and Robert Wright inspired by the life and work of Thomas Merton. Also in the exhibition will be Thomas Merton's photographs and a display illustrating some of the many aspects of his life.
There will be a service on Sunday July 19th at 7:30pm to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Thomas Merton.
The service will tie in with the exhibition and feature examples of Merton’s work as well as appropriate readings, prayers and hymns.
On Saturday 25th July from 2:30pm Esther de Waal and Michael Woodward discuss "Merton and the Arts". Charles MacCarthy will talk about Merton and his own paintings on display. There will also be an opportunity to hear " Merton in his own voice" in the form of recorded talks.
Thomas Merton (1915-1968) was one of the most influential American Catholic writers of the twentieth century. A sometimes controversial figure who was a campaigner for social justice and vehemently against the war in Vietnam and the nuclear arms race, he was also a contemplative whose interest and understanding of Eastern Mysticism led him to form deep friendships with people like the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hahn, D.T. Suzuki and many others. His autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain, written in the first years of his life as a Trappist monk, at the Abbey of Gethsemane, brought him to international prominence but his later writings show a profound development in his journey of faith with much greater openness to events in the world and to other religions, Zen Buddhism in particular. He spent the last five years of his life living as a hermit in the woods near the monastery. During his lifetime he published over sixty books as well as hundreds of articles and introductions to other people's books. He also wrote a great deal of poetry, and during the last decade of his life he took photographs and made abstract "calligraphies ". The many volumes of his correspondence and all of his journals have appeared since his death as well as a profusion of books about him.
In 1968 he was allowed to travel to Bangkok for a conference on East- West monastic dialogue, taking in many other places and remarkable people on the way. He died by accidental electrocution while in Bangkok.
St Michael's Church, Discoed
The modest 'Shepherd’s' church of St Michael in Discoed (Old English 'dic' and 'cot' a cottage by Offa’s Dyke), on the border between Powys and Herefordshire, acts as a both a spiritual and artistic hub to the community. This chapel of ease for St Andrew’s, Presteigne, is medieval, with 'admirably restrained' Victorian modifications. The circular site, the spectacular ancient yew tree, and the spring by the churchyard gate, suggest that the sanctity of this place has been respected for much longer. It remains a haven of rare tranquillity and natural beauty (with at least thirty-two species of wild flowers) set in unspoilt Welsh Marches border countryside.
The Friends of St Michael’s
St Michael’s Church is inseparable from the 5,000 year old yew tree that presides over this ancient circular site. The yew is largely self re-generating, but the church – the centre of our tiny community – is not.
The Friends of St Michael’s, under President Edward Storey and with Patrons, Professor David Bellamy, Dr Ronald Blythe and David Wheeler, was formed to raise the funds for the repair, renovation and development of our much loved church. As a daughter church of St Andrew’s, Presteigne, it was unrealistic to believe that the use of the church for services would justify the expense that would be needed to achieve these aims. A parallel commitment was therefore made to use the building for as wide a range of arts events as possible.
The essential repairs to the fabric of the church, (for the time-being!) are now complete, an efficient modern heating system has been installed, the paths have been relayed and the interior adapted to a much wider range of uses.
We are proud of the wide range of events that have been put on at St Michael’s over the last few years including concerts, literary events and art and ceramic exhibitions. The Friends have probably raised some £150,000 since their formation but more importantly they have created a strong and committed group of local enthusiasts backed up by a wider group of supporters across the country. While the Friends still need to raise funds for the long-term future of St Michael’s we are also ready to help other causes.
HOW TO FIND US
ST MICHAEL’S CHURCH, DISCOED, NEAR PRESTEIGNE, POWYS LD8 2NW
Leave Presteigne heading west on the B4356. After 1 mile take minor road (straight on) signposted Cascob. Continue for 1 mile. Church approach is up on left after Discoed sign.
Keep up to date with Friends of St Michael's events, exhibitions and news using the form below.