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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. In celebrating the commencement of the class of 2015 this year, we will be hosting a special small group reflection for seniors and their families the night before the Baccalaureate Service.

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.

The Senior Week Reflection  will engage the theme of new beginnings, led through a piece from Tufts alum Tracy Chapman. It will be on Friday, May 15th, at 9pm in the Interfaith Center meeting room. The Senior Week Reflection is open to all members of the Tufts community, but especially our graduating seniors and their families, irrespective of anyone’s belief background. We’ll have a reception with many refreshments and music following.


Born in Cleveland, Tracy Chapman is a Grammy-award winning musician, inspiring activist, and distinguished Tufts alum. Her work in folk songwriting came to define the genre from the ’80s onward, and she is a shining force in changemaking from her undying commitment to resisting poverty, racial injustice, and sexual oppression. She rarely took the Humanist label for herself–but her work thoroughly engages a manner of living meaningfully through social action and towards justice in the world around us, namely pieces like “Heaven’s Here on Earth” and “All That You Have Is Your Soul.” Her work and her perspective, namely on how and why we make new beginnings in our lives and our world, is certainly worth the engagement of Humanists today.

The eponymous track off of Chapman’s platinum-selling fourth record, New Beginnings, articulates how we as society might reconstruct ourselves when we find ourselves immersed in suffering, but also how we as unique individuals might revisit and reimagine ourselves when change comes in our life journeys. This commencement, we’ll reflect on what new beginnings are coming to us this May, and what Tracy can, or can’t, offer us by way of inspiration towards making that change.

New Beginnings.
By Tracy Chapman. 

The whole world’s broke and it ain’t worth fixing
It’s time to start all over, make a new beginning
There’s too much pain, too much suffering
Let’s resolve to start all over make a new beginning

Now don’t get me wrong I love life and living
But when you wake up and look around at everything that’s going down
All wrong
You see we need to change it now, this world with too few happy endings
We can resolve to start all over make a new beginning

The world is broken into fragments and pieces
That once were joined together in a unified whole
But now too many stand alone There’s too much separation
We can resolve to come together in the new beginning

We can break the cycle – We can break the chain
We can start all over – In the new beginning
We can learn, we can teach
We can share the myths the dream the prayer
The notion that we can do better
Change our lives and paths
Create a new world

The whole world’s broke and it ain’t worth fixing
It’s time to start all over, make a new beginning
There’s too much fighting, too little understanding
It’s time to stop and start all over
Make a new beginning

We need to make new symbols
Make new signs
Make a new language
With these we’ll define the world