By Della Stanley-Green
Yesterday during my morning quiet time, I sensed a rising wave of gratitude in me for living Quaker leaders who exemplify the vital characteristics of Quaker leadership. One of the first that came to mind is dear Friend, Dwight Wilson — mentor, leader, author, teacher, volunteer, baby whisperer, minister, learner, and much more.
I heard of Dwight Wilson for several years before our paths began to cross about a decade ago. My first experience of Dwight was in a board meeting. His words were insightful. He emanated graciousness. His presence brought both levity and gravity into the room.
Dwight speaks truth. He carries it with him and shares it. He speaks gently to babies with cardiac conditions in the pediatrics ICU, telling them they are loved. He speaks forthrightly to Friends, challenging us to do, not just talk about, the inclusion of people of color within the Religious Society of Friends. He even speaks his mind to the Creator. Every Sunday for several years, he has shared a psalm on Facebook that he has written to the Holy One. Dwight is honest, open, and real.
When I accepted a new position of leadership in 2019, I asked Dwight to be one of my mentors. He asked me what I needed from him. I said simply to check in with me once in a while. And, he does. He is a keeper of his word. I am one of many people across the globe benefit from Dwight’s mentoring, teaching, and wise counsel. Over the years as our paths intersected again and again, I noticed that he invested his attention with those with whom he conversed. He listened and asked and challenged and encouraged. All the time, he was building relationships one conversation at a time. It is the pattern of his life.
In the three of the gospels, the parable of the sower is told. In all the versions, the sower spreads seed everywhere. There is a generosity of offering life, even when it ends up not prospering. This generosity of sowing seeds in words and actions every day reminds me of Dwight. He takes his wisdom, knowledge, passion, and compassion and he sows these seeds liberally. He plants the seeds of the
preciousness of every human being, the love of the Holy One for all creation, and the challenge to be faithful in every interaction. Whether he is serving on a police oversight board, writing historical fiction based on his enslaved ancestors’ experience, or encouraging former students to achieve, Dwight is sowing seeds. He replenishes his store of seeds through reading through the bible multiple times, nurturing his creativity in writing, and listening to (and sharing) music – especially jazz.
In this month of thanksgiving, I give thanks to God for Dwight Wilson, a living lesson in Quaker leadership. Throughout this month, I will be sharing about other living Quaker leaders and how they exemplify some of the essential traits of Quaker leadership as they live in the Light and reflect it into the world.
Friends who want to know more about Dwight’s writing and speaking can access them at dwightlwilson.com.