A Shot of Light From Wess

A Shot of Light From Wess
I recently visited DC for a conference hosted by the Bowen Center for the Study of Family. While I was there, I visited the Renwick Gallery. This piece is from Alicia Eggert and is of an epigram from Stewart Brand's book, The Clock of The Long Now. Read more about it here.

Hey Friends,

I hope that you are well and that the beauty of spring is upon you. Spring in Greensboro is about as glorious as it gets and I love it. The birdsong is in full harmony, the blooming flowers paint our neighborhoods with color, and I am enjoying late evening walks and porch conversations. I would to hear how the spring is greeting you if you have a moment to say hello (simply reply to this email).

First, I want to welcome all of our new readers who have joined us over the last month or so. Many thanks to my friend, Emily P. Freeman, who has been sending folks this way. If you haven't listened to Emily's Podcast, The Next Right Thing, you really should. First, check our her interview with Parker Palmer, and then her recent episode on silence, which she said was inspired by something I shared recently. It's a great episode and I really like what Emily is putting out into the world.

323: The Kind of Quiet that Wakes Us Up - Emily P. Freeman
They say May is the new December, and we all know it’s true. Though we have a month until we get there, chances are this season’s activities are in full swing now and not likely to stop until June. It’s times like this when I often find myself busy doing the things that don’t matter […]

I will be sharing more about a conversation I got to have with her about her book, How to Walk Into A Room, in the near future. Stay tuned for that.

I've been busy over here in the "sstudio" plugging away since my last update (this is the playful name I've settled on for my backyard writing studio - a play on the double-s in my name and the Phil Collins song by a similar name - lol). Just this week, I finished and sent back a chapter for an edited volume coming out soon about a convergent Quaker meeting that closed its doors and about what some of that process looked like for them. I also finished a theological reflection paper I've been working on since October that I hope to share with all of you soon about my journey into being a Quaker minister and theologian.

I wrote an article for the blog earlier in the week looking at how music shapes our lives, some thoughts on my relationship to "church music," and in it, I share a little playlist for you all to enjoy.

A Playlist: If You’re Not Busy Being Born - Hymns for Today and the Music that Shapes Our Lives
What is the role that music plays in the formation of our spiritual lives? Wess tells a little of his story of music and how it has shaped his life.

Blog Update: Besides finishing up a couple projects, many of you know I have been looking into moving homes on the internet. Since 2004, my blog, Gathering in Light, was self-hosted and run by Wordpress. As I mentioned previously, things on the internet continue to get more wonky. Wordpress is starting to scrape users data for AI and Substack, the platform I used for newsletters, has terrible policies around moderation so it's been time to for me move on.

After scouring the web, and looking into many different solutions, trying to match ease of use, cost, and alignment with my commitments on the internet, I've settled on running my website and newsletter with Ghost. I can run both with one service which is very nice and ads a layer of simplicity I needed. So far, I am surprised by how much I really like using Ghost.

All that said, things may look and be a little different, some links will be broken unfortunately, but I'll fix them as we go a long. You have probably also noticed, the blog and newsletter are merged under the original name of my now twenty year old website. While you're here, poke around a little. This will be my internet home for the foreseeable future.

👀 Recently On Gathering In Light

Here are a few articles I've written and want to share with you as you have time.

A Playlist: If You’re Not Busy Being Born - Hymns for Today and the Music that Shapes Our Lives
What is the role that music plays in the formation of our spiritual lives? Wess tells a little of his story of music and how it has shaped his life.
Silence can save us – Gathering In Light
If liturgies of empire lull us to sleep, silence is a practice of resistance that can wake us up. It can wake us up to the pain and suffering of our neighbors. Wake us up to our own pain, our own inaction, our bitterness, or call to act.
Are We In A Post-Social Media World? – Gathering In Light
I was lucky enough to get to talk with Georgia Sparling of Thee Quaker Podcast a little while back about social media and some of the things I’ve wrestled with as a Quaker theologian, educator, parent, and person who has been actively online for 20+ years. That episode published
Q&A: A Quaker Perspective about the Issues of Empire and the US – Gathering In Light
I received a question of email recently that prompted me to put together a response here: “I wonder if you would have one or two of your own articles or lectures that you could share with us, where you bring a Quaker perspective about the issues of Empire and the

Janet Echelman's 1.8 Renwick

A trip to D.C. for a conference on Bowen Family Systems Theory led me to the Renwick Gallery. I really loved seeing Echelman's display of fiber and color and Eggert's piece I shared above. Sitting under this as the lights slowly transitioned was a breathtaking experience.

Here's how the gallery describes the installation:

Janet Echelman's 1.8 Renwick uses fiber and colored light to examine the complex interconnections between humankind and our physical world and reveals the artist's fascination with the measurement of time. The volumetric form suspended from the vaulted ceiling of this historic Grand Salon is inspired by the data recorded March 11, 2011, following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that rippled across the Pacific Ocean toward Japan. The geologic event was so powerful it shifted the earth on its axis and shortened the day by 1.8 millionths of a second lending this work its title. The lines on the carpet below trace the topographic patterns of the three-dimensional form above. Viewers can immerse themselves in the installation and find a contemplative moment, watching the dynamically changing shadows gradually unfold in vivid colors from wall to wall. The color permutations take as long to unfold as it takes to watch a sunset. Echelman's knotted meditation explores the contrast between the forces we can understand and control and those we cannot, and the concerns of our daily existence within the larger cycles of time.

A curated list of 3-5 things I've found that I want to share with you.

I love the overall question, the suggestions for Bibles, and some of the background reading they offer.

What’s an LGBTQ-Affirming Bible translation? - Queer Theology
If there is one question we get alot it’s: where to find an LGBTQ+ Affirming translation of the Bible? Like, […]

Great article shared from Robin Mohr. Looking at some of the benefits of being a part of a faith community from the perspective of someone who is agnostic.

The True Cost of the Churchgoing Bust | annotated by wess
“Did the decline of religion cut some people off from a crucial gateway to civic engagement, or is religion just one part of a broader retreat from associations and memberships in America?” @DKThomp writes.

A great collection of quotes from artists and musicians about silence.

Silence is a space for something new to happen

Such an interesting article about anxiety and our "smart" devices.

A long and challenging read about Christ's condemnation of wealth.

Christianity Was Always for the Poor
From the Sermon on the Mount through the Apostolic Age, the first Christians preached against wealth.

🗣️ Epilogue

A final thought to leave you with.

Bill Callahan (aka Smog):

“When you’re starting a song the only thing you have is silence and silence is pretty damn sweet. Once you start making some sound, it better be good because you’re ruining the silence that makes you feel good and relaxed. I feel like you can only make a sound if it’s better than silence… [I’m] very conscious of the power of nothing, the power of nothing being there. You’ll notice it’s still about the best thing anyone playing with me on a record can do is just stop playing. Because you got this instrument in your hand and it’s really fun to make the noise with it, but it means so much more when you’re not playing it.”

HT - Austin Kleon - Silence is a Space for Something to Happen

Love and Light to each of you,

Wess Daniels
Haw River Watershed (Greensboro, NC)

If you'd like to support my work or help me cover the cost to keep the site running consider sharing the site with a friend, send me a comment via wess@gatheringinlight.com, or drop some change into my buymeacoffee site. Thank you!