Words of WonderSelf-Compassion - James Crews

My friend and I snickered the first time
we heard the meditation teacher, a grown man,
call himself honey, with a hand placed
over his heart to illustrate how we too
might become more gentle with ourselves
and our runaway minds. It’s been years
since we sat with legs twisted on cushions,
holding back our laughter, but today
I found myself crouched on the floor again,
not meditating exactly, just agreeing
to be still, saying honey to myself each time
I thought about my husband splayed
on the couch with aching joints and fever
from a tick bite—what if he never gets better?—
or considered the threat of more wildfires,
the possible collapse of the Gulf Stream,
then remembered that in a few more minutes,
I’d have to climb down to the cellar and empty
the bucket I placed beneath a leaky pipe
that can’t be fixed until next week. How long
do any of us really have before the body
begins to break down and empty its mysteries
into the air? Oh honey, I said—for once
without a trace of irony or blush of shame—
the touch of my own hand on my chest
like that of a stranger, oddly comforting
in spite of the facts.

by James Crews


I was moved by the honesty in this poem, and could relate both to the potential cringe-worthiness of the word honey and the hand on heart. Learning to meet myself with gentleness wasn’t a straightforward undertaking, although so very much worth it! And I appreciate how some of us may have even more of a process with this than others, depending on social and cultural conditioning. And it felt like a gift to get a glimpse into the experience of the poet James Crews – who I came across as editor to the lovely anthology The Path to Kindness: Poems of Connection and Joy.

The other thing I could really relate to in this poem, is how the worrying mind attaches itself to such a range of topics once it gets going, how everything becomes a source of concern. Ranging all the way from the huge and longterm to the very immediate, worry can be everywhere when in one mindstate, and pretty far in the background at another time. And how precious to be able to meet ourselves wherever on that sliding scale we find ourselves, showing up with oddly comforting expressions of sincere care…


PS if you want to learn to be there more for yourself, join our compassion course (hand on heart and ‘honey’ optional!)

Photo by Rich Font on Unsplash