Tufts University Chaplaincy | E-News 2.3.21
Remember that You are Dust:
A Note from our Protestant Chaplain
In Western Christianity, Ash Wednesday is one of the most dramatic liturgical events of the church year. Worshippers step forward during the service to receive ashes and hear the words, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” It marks the beginning of Lent, a season of self-examination, fasting, and good works leading up to Easter, when Jesus Christ is acknowledged as the savior. In my Episcopal tradition, a prayer describes the ashes as “a sign of our mortality and penitence.” There is a new invitation to reflect this year as Ash Wednesday approaches on February 17.
This year many people, including members of our Christian communities at Tufts, will need to forego this powerful ancient sign. We are not physically offering the imposition of ashes out of regard for everyone’s health and safety. Instead, I am drawn to consider what other signs and symbols we may use instead. For those who identify with other philosophical or religious traditions, this also can be a useful theme to reflect on. We can all ask: what is it in my tradition, experience, or in nature, that reminds me that I am dust and to dust I shall return? What is it that keeps me humble, grounded, and connected to this idea?
Our Catholic Chaplain suggested to me recently that the masks we don daily are a ripe reminder. Masks are meant to protect us and others; yet they also stand as an ever-present symbol of our fragile existence on this earth. The pandemic reminds us of the fragility of our bodies. It has also thrown into clear relief the grave inequities in this country that cause some bodies to be made more vulnerable to disease and death than others, especially if they are Black, Latinx, Indigenous, disabled, or chronically ill.
Remembering that we will die someday is not enough. All of our traditions call us to make good use of the time we have on this earth to turn from wrong and to do right—seeking justice, overcoming oppression, and working together to create a more loving and compassionate world. This week, I wonder what practice, symbol, or reminder may help you in fulfilling that sacred commitment.
I wish you a meaningful beginning to the semester, and to Black History and Black Legacy Month.
Rev. Dan Bell
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Symposium
Wednesday, February 3, 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. ET; Registration required
Author, historian, and journalist Jelani Cobb, will give the keynote address at this year’s symposium. The 2021 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Symposium will focus on the theme of “Cashing Our Promissory Note: Race, Justice, and Reparation,” based on the powerful excerpt from the Rev. Dr. King’s speech at the March on Washington in 1963. Cobb is the Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism at Columbia University as well as staff writer for The New Yorker, where he writes about race, politics, and injustice. He is well-known for his prominently featured role in Ana Duvernay’s Oscar-nominated documentary “13th” about the mass incarceration of Black Americans. You can find more information and register for the event anytime by following this link.
Post-Symposium Lunch: What does ‘Cashing our Promissory Note’ mean to you now?
Wednesday, February 10, 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. ET; Registration required
Please join a virtual lunch on Wednesday, February 10 to continue the conversation about the theme of this year’s Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Symposium “Cashing Our Promissory Note: Race, Justice, and Reparation.” This event is hosted by the Africana Center, the Division for Student Diversity and Inclusion, Tisch College for Civic Engagement, and the University Chaplaincy. The lunch will include an opening reflection on Dr. Jelani Cobb’s keynote address and facilitated discussion groups. Please register by 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 9 to receive a GrubHub coupon (please note: only Tufts students, faculty, and staff are eligible to receive the coupon). You will receive Zoom information and your lunch coupon on Tuesday, February 9. Please email University Chaplaincy program manager Nora Bond with any questions.
Religious and Philosophical Life Programs
You can find more information about our many weekly gatherings and student group meetings on our website. You can also find the Zoom links for all events and gatherings there. In this section, we feature a weekly gathering hosted by one of our chaplaincies or religious and philosophical student groups here this semester, and highlight events and offerings from our chaplaincies. You can always reach out to the chaplain listed for more information, or find details on our website. If you have an idea for how University Chaplaincy programming can better serve you, please contact program manager Nora Bond.
Mindfulness for Individual and Community Resilience & Well-Being at Tufts
Tuesday, February 9, 5:00 p.m. – 6:15 p.m. ET
This University-wide virtual workshop is open to the entire Tufts community. During this session, facilitators will discuss ways that mindfulness practices promote individual and community well-being. They will guide participants through practices that foster social-emotional resilience, stress reduction, focused attention, and self-care in ways that are in service of collective well-being, antiracism, and civic engagement. The session will be facilitated by the co-founders of the Holistic Life Foundation and The Innovation Group, Ali Smith, Atman Smith, and Andres Gonzalez. This workshop is co-sponsored by the Tisch College SEL-CE Initiative, Tufts Mindfulness & Resilience Collaborative, Tufts Health and Wellness, the Office of the President, and the Division of Student Diversity and Inclusion (DSDI). Registration is required. To register please follow this link.
Resources, Scholarships, and Opportunities
Upcoming Religious Celebrations and Observances
These events are drawn from the multifaith calendar maintained by the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life at Harvard Divinity School. To see more upcoming religious holidays and festivals, please follow the link to the Harvard Divinity School calendar.
Nirvana Day (for some, February 8)
In the northern tradition, it commemorates the parinirvana of the Buddha. In cultures of Southeast Asia, the buddha’s parinirvana is remembered during Wesak. The dates and names of Buddhist celebrations vary significantly among cultures and communities.
Vasant Panchami (Sri Pancami)
One of many festivals to honor the advent of spring, this day is celebrated particularly in North India, where it is associated with Saraswati, the goddess of learning; however, it also retains connection with the goddess Lakshmi.
Tradition: Christianity-Protestant, Christianity-Roman Catholic
A special day of repentance observed by Protestant and Roman Catholic Christians to mark the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance, and self-denial preceding Easter. The name derives from the practice of marking of the faithful with ashes to signify penitence.
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