|Some of you know me, others do not.
Here is a photo and brief summary of my 75 years, beginning in 1969 when I
resigned as a high school English teacher. I left the freshmen and sophomores whom I
loved, because I could not bear to see how racism was distorting their lives. Within
the week of my December 9, 1969 resignation I became an anti-racist organizer in the
southern suburbs of Chicago. Later I was divorced, ending 25 years of marriage. The
five bright, compassionate children of that union are now older themselves. It has
not been easy for any of us.
In 1975 I sat down at my typewriter to prove there was no God of Love out of my anguished atheism. But the Hound of Heaven caught and held me. I became a Roman Catholic in December of that year. On December 8, 1979, Archbishop James Vincent Casey of the Archdiocese of Northern Colorado, accepted my private vows of chastity, simplicity and openness to God's will in the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, almost 10 years to the day I had resigned from the Bloom Township high school in 1969.
In 1980 on Holy Saturday after praying Isaiah 55 on an Ignation retreat at Loretto Heights Collage in Denver, I felt confident God would take care of me and so I began to travel to tell the Story. My soul was downcast in February 1982 when the poem "Gift" erupted in my life. Its message was to ask people, mostly women as it turned out, to place on fabric what they could not bear to think of as lost forever in a nuclear war on the 40th anniversary of Hiroshima in 1985. 15,000 of us gathered to embrace the Pentagon, the White House and the Capitol with fabric pieces 18"x36". We had 25,000 pieces that day for the ten mile route from the Pentagon to the Capitol and back again. Many are part of the Chicago Peace Museum's collection.
The Institute for Cultural and Ecumenical Research located and valued by Saint John's Abbey and University in Collegeville, MN. welcomed me over a period of 18 months beginning January, 1986. I had the time and the space to write and pray with other Resident Scholars in this beautiful setting.
Since 1977 I have been embroidering images of those places we love in our ordinary lives, in our very human glimpses of Heaven: back yards, breakfast rooms, gardens, kitchens.
The purpose of this website is to give away poems and images that have been freely given to me. Here are some lines from Edna St. Vincent Millay.
Love in the open hand No thing but that, And calling out as children do, Look what I have and they are all for you.
These seeds are freely given, only God knows where they will fall.
© 1975-2000 Copyright Justine Merritt