A Homily offered at the Memorial Service for
Linda Beaulieu - Teacher Friend and Mentor
We gather today with heavy hearts in the face of an inexplicable tragedy. We are shocked by the reminder of how fragile human life is, and how necessary it is to live well all the days we are given. We gather because we need to be together, to hold each other up, to offer words of remembrance and wordless comfort. We gather together to honor a woman who has touched many lives with grace, and encouragement, and with vision. It was her vocation to be an instrument of hope.
Vocation is a word, an idea, that our culture has tried to squash into a tiny box. We often think that vocation has something to do with the religious life, with those who go off and put on funny clothes and dedicate themselves to their God. But Vocation will not be contained in a little box.
Each of us has a vocation, a calling. Frederick Buechner defines vocation as 'the place where your deep gladness meets the world's deep need.’ Gladness, joy in our work is required. A musician who devotes his life to accounting has missed his calling. A mechanic who rejoices in repairing the machines on which our lives depend has found her calling. Joy in doing well the work we are given to do is what turns a job into a vocation. A job that pays the bills is necessary to the body, but work done with integrity and love is what feeds our spirits.
Each of us is invited into holy work, work that engages our mind and body and spirit. As humans coming of age, we search for the place where our deep gladness, the use of our particular skills and talents and gifts, may be devoted to tasks that are meaningful, to work that matters. In a world of options and choices and constraints it is hard to find our own path. Sometimes we are called to join the family business, but often our own path may not necessarily be the path parents expect Our own path may differ from the path our friends take. Two roads diverged in the yellow wood.
It is hard to find our very own vocation. That is why we need good teachers for those who are just beginning to discover their identity, their calling. The vocation of the ones who name capacity and talent that a young person cannot see is essential for the flourishing of our community. The vocation of the ones who unfold the great stories so that our culture’s wisdom is shared is essential for a rich inner life for all our people. Stories of friendship, and courage in the face of uncertainty teach us all our lives. The vocation of the ones who help young adults find their place in the ongoing pageant of our community’s history, and future, is essential. The vocation of an Educator, a Hope Bearer, is Good and Holy Work
Linda Beaulieu did her work well, every day of her life. With joy she did her work. With integrity she walked the halls of Stevens High School, and the side streets of Claremont. With grace she danced. In delight she called forth the best in her students, and sent them, sends you on to flourish. No lesson she taught, no gift she gave can ever be taken away. You have that forever, and what she gave you will be a lamp on your path. Linda’s work had meaning. It mattered. Now her work is finished. She has been enfolded into the company of the saints in light, she sees God face to face and is embraced by God’s loving presence.
Linda Beaulieu’s work passed on to you. Remember her, remember what she taught you. Then put on your red shoes, and follow your path with joy and integrity.