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At the Humanist Chaplaincy at Tufts, we want to foster a comfortable environment for people to engage in honest discussions around the challenges in their lives, and explore how people outside traditional religion approach questions that many faith traditions engage regularly.

At Small Group Reflections, the Humanist in Residence facilitates an open, respectful, and confidential conversation around one theme that concerns and informs many of our choices and experiences in our life journey. The conversation is rooted in a text (or other piece of culture) written from a Humanist perspective that engages the theme, and from there will be open to the perspectives and experiences of everyone present in the group. Those present are encouraged to bring pieces of culture that inspire their own values on the theme, including and especially those from other faith traditions. This semester, Small Group Reflections occur every other week (except during Spring Break), and are free and open to all members of the Tufts community, irrespective of their belief background.

The upcoming reflection will engage the theme of loss, led through a piece from Emily Dickinson. It will be on Monday, March 30th, at 9pm in the Interfaith Center meeting room.


Emily Dickinson, a hugely prolific and revered poet herself from Massachusetts, is known for her short yet powerful and thematic pieces that challenged the literary conventions of her time. Though little is known of her personal and avowed lifestance, her statements of purpose expressed through her reflective work at several points direct us toward a Humanist mission: that humanity has control over their destiny, that that destiny compels us to love and support those around us, that if we can stop one heart from breaking, we will have not lived in vain. This piece confronts and remarks on the theme of hope head on.


“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all.


And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm.


I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.


Dickinson, Emily. “314.”