She earned a scholarship to Smith College in
Massachusetts and pursued her love of language as an English major,
graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. She also made the
decision to be confirmed by the Episcopal Church and became head
of the New England Student Christian Movement. After Smith, she
went on to earn her M.A. in Christian Education from Columbia
and Union Theological Seminary.
While in seminary she met her future husband, Edwin (Mike) Rooney,
a student at General Theological Seminary studying for the priesthood.
They raised their family of four out East where Mike was employed
by the Diocese of New York, and Elizabeth worked for the state
as an employment counselor.
In 1972 they moved back to Elizabeth's childhood home in Blue
Mounds to run the family's tourist business, the Cave
of the Mounds. The cave, now a registered National Natural
Landmark, was accidentally discovered on Brigham Farm in 1939.
(click here for more Brigham Farm history)
In 1978, Elizabeth was invited to join a group of Episcopal lay
women called The Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross,
whose lives are committed to intercession, thanksgiving and simplicity.
While on a retreat preparatory to her induction into the Society,
she had a profound and life changing encounter with the Holy Spirit
- an experience which she described simply as" falling in
love with God". She said she felt "As if my veins were
bubbling with champagne and the poems began to flow freely, coming
as surprises day after day". As she continued to mature spiritually,
the poems continued to flow, and by the time of her death in February
1999, she had written over 700 of them.
The poems came to her as she was praying, doing the dishes, walking
in the garden, and even driving the car. She always carried a
notebook along in case some event or thought triggered the creative
process. Writing to her friend and fellow poet, Luci Shaw, she
commented, " Mine seems to come like butterflies, and I try
to net them and get them on paper without knocking too many bright
bits of color off their wings" Nothing was too ordinary for
subject material as she explained in a journal entry,"The
more I become aware of the active presence of God, the more beautiful
and sacred everything becomes! Do we need miracles, or do we need
only to perceive that every ordinary thing around us is already
miraculous?' A line from one of her poems states what had become
for her a reality: "Life is All Miracle".