‘Big Words’ Series Explores Spiritual, Religious Topics

Stetson’s Office of Religious and Spiritual Life includes, from left to right, University chaplain, Pastor Demetris Pressley; Associate Director of Interfaith Initiatives Lindsey Carelli; University chaplain, Sensei Morris Sekiyo Sullivan; University chaplain, Rev. Christy Correll-Hughes; and University Hillel Director Sam Friedman. Photo by Stetson University/Faith Jones

The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life will continue its Big Words program this semester with a series of events that feature food, Cultural Credit and explorations of topics of universal spiritual significance. 

We will begin Big Words this semester on Monday, Feb. 10, with Big Words: EARTH. This event falls on Tu BiShvat (“the 15th of Shevat”), when some trees in Israel start a new cycle that begins with blooming and ends with bearing ripe fruit. The date is traditionally observed by eating fruits that are said in the Torah to represent the bounty of the Holy Land — wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates.  

We should also remember on this day that trees that bear fruit should be protected: “When you besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy its trees by forcing an axe against them: for thou mayst eat of them, and thou shalt not cut them down; for is the tree of the field a man, that it should be besieged by thee?” (Deuteronomy 20:19)  

We will mark this date by meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Rinker Environmental Learning Center to plant a tree and pose for a photograph — in the yoga tree pose (vrksasana). The first 10 people who arrive for the tree planting and photograph will receive a T-shirt from the Jewish National Fund. 

At 6 p.m., we will convene at the Rinker Welcome Center for a Tu BiShvat Seder, a dinner in which the many dimensions of creation are recognized and celebrated, symbolized by the fruits of Israel. Rabbi David Kay of Congregation Ohev Shalom in Maitland will conduct the Seder. Along with a vegetarian dinner, participants will partake of four fruits and cups of wine (or grape juice, in our case), accompanied by readings and prayers. 

We will also be engaging in a dialog about the religious and spiritual significance of the earth, which supports all life. Food and Cultural Credit will be available.  

The Big Words series will continue through the semester with themes that are always interesting and sometimes surprising. 

  • March 23 at 6:30 p.m., we will explore the relationship between religion and sexuality with Big Words: SEX. More details will follow. Location TBA. 
  • We will examine religious practices regarding food with Big Words: FAST on April 6 at 6:30 p.m. Location TBA. 

As always, dinner and Cultural Credit will be available for these programs.

-Sensei Morris Sekiyo Sullivan
Stetson Chaplain