Last week-end I participated in Baccalaureate and Commencement at Tufts by giving the Invocation as Interim University Chaplain. This is my second Commencement in this role. I think that qualifies me as a Jumbo. And I am proud to be one. Jumbo, of course, is an elephant and Tufts’ Mascot. Even before I served my first term as Interim University Chaplain, I loved elephants. When I was a child, I actually rode on one at the zoo. I have a very faded picture of that event and a very vivid memory of it. I am quite sure that it is a good thing for elephants that that is no longer happening. Looking back, I am amazed that it ever did.
As an adult, I was able to see elephants in the wild in Kenya. What an amazing site! They are, of course, huge, and ungainly, not sleek and beautiful, like a lion for instance, but strong and steadfast and, I think, fun. I like the fact that they are vegetarians and family oriented.
Two of my favorite books then I was a child were “Sonny Elephant” and “Dumbo.” So I find myself quite pleased to consider myself a “Jumbo.”
Before Jumbo, there was the Drexel Dragon, “Mario the Magnificent,” and the Princeton Tiger. I am proud to claim both. Having spent five years on the Harvard Divinity faculty, I thought ai ought at least to know what mascot I am attached to through that connection. It turns out it is a human, a caricature of John Harvard in a pilgrim hat. Nothing against humans or pilgrim hats or Harvard, but that one doesn’t do much for me. Let’s just stick with the big “H” on that one.
Well, with commencement comes the end of a school year, the beginning of summer school and getting ready for a new year and the incoming class of 2016. I think I will give the replica of Jumbo standing proud in our quad a good pat and thank you. Keep your eye on us this coming year and wish us well.