Lessons in Weariness


As I lie on my back

at the edge of Parliament Square,

I stare up at the canopy of

plane tree leaves above me

and the clouds grazing the sky,

and I don’t feel fear or anger

or any of those things

I’ve felt before.

This time I just feel

weary of it all.

Weary that no matter what we do,

those in their ivory towers will

keep ripping up the rule book of

morality and decency and

carelessly tossing it

into the fire.

Weary of the slow marching.

Weary of the knowledge that

our courage could light

every candle that burns

but our bodies are too few.

Weary of the apathy,

the lack of integrity, the

You’re so brave but I could never do that,

the passive-aggressive commentary,

the averted gaze and

swift change of subject.

Weary of the way my country

helps to fuel wars, waving hands

that drip with blood

whilst simultaneously strutting

proud as a peacock to show how

civilised we are,

how democratic,

a beacon for the rest of the world.

Bone weary of the lies.

Of the harm.

There are several officers surrounding me,

urging me to get up and

walk to the van.

You could be injured, you know,

if we try to carry you.

But how do I tell them I’m weary of their complicity

and they’re already hurting me

without laying a finger on me;

that they have a role to play

and this could be a beautiful

opportunity if they’d only mine

their moral courage.

So I just shake my head and

say I’m not moving.

I’m lugged into a van like a

ten kilo sack of potatoes and

later I lie on a thin plastic mattress

beneath a blue blanket for the

third time this year,

blinking up at a sign stamped onto

the ceiling, stating ‘Criminals Beware.’

And the weariness that I am

being locked in a police cell

for wanting to protect my

children threatens to engulf me,

while somewhere in the same city,

the real criminals sit

cloistered with their

canapes and champagne.

Two hours in and I

haul my weariness up

from the mattress to place

my call. And the kindness 

of the words from this woman

from back office I’ve never met

and probably never will

floors me, shakes me out

like a tree shedding her leaves.

Thank you for your courage,

she says.

Thank you for what you’re doing.

But I don’t feel brave,

and when I leave the call,

the tears come and I weep

for those in Palestine,

for those whose homes and lives are lost

to flood and wildfire,

for the creatures of the

earth, sky and sea

whose numbers plummet,

for the uncertain terrain

today’s children inherit.

But most of all, I cry

for the surprising, disarming

nature of kindness

and I wonder, how can we

turn this into a revolution?

How can we infiltrate the

draughty corridors of

Whitehall with the

warmth of kindness?

How can we infuse the

bones of those who grow

heavy with the weight of their

own, glowing importance with

tenderness and care?

How can we get them to lie on

their backs in Parliament Square

or any patch of land generous

enough to hold them and gaze

up at each tree, each bird and

each leaf printed like miracles

against the sky as they did when

they were children?

How can we get them to feel,

to know,

to understand,

to truly breathe in

how much we will lose?

The flap opens.

Are you ok? The station officer asks.

Perhaps he can see I’ve been crying.

He brings me a coffee

and asks what I’m writing

in my notebook, if it’s

going to be a best seller.

I’m writing about you, I say.

No, really?

I nod.

But why? he asks.

I pause, hear the steady hum

of the room and wonder about

all the people who have sat

on this narrow blue mattress

before me and how no doubt

kindness has eluded them

again and again.

I’m writing about my sadness,

I finally say.

And I’m writing about kindness.

About you being kind.

And now it’s his turn to be

disarmed, his face

suddenly naked and

confused before he smiles

uncertainly, closes the flap.

I sit on the bed,

watch the light from

outside grow dim, sip black coffee

and think that perhaps this is all

we have left; that we must disarm

the world and all those who seek to stamp

it down with kindness,

that we must pass this

chain of compassion like prayer beads

from one to another,

whispers from the future

that enclose us in their embrace,

that say

I know you are weary.

I know this is hard.

But you cannot see what we are looking at.

So I catch these whispers,

hold my fist tight around them,

and when I am released

from my cell, I fling

these voices to the

darkness and watch as

the night receives them one by one,

lighting up the sky in

a beautiful, blazing rebellion

seeded from weariness,

from tears,

and from the courage of a multitude of

tender, beating hearts.

19 replies
    • Rebecca Stonehill
      Rebecca Stonehill says:

      Thank you so much Fiona for reading my poem and for reaching out, it feels so good to know that my words have a small ripple effect xx

    • Rebecca Stonehill
      Rebecca Stonehill says:

      Hi Sharon, thank you SO much for reading and commenting. I am so pleased that it touched a chord with you 💚 Big hug x

  1. Greta
    Greta says:

    Dear Rebecca
    Expressing your emotions so eloquently, your weariness, heavy heart touched my soul. So powerful. I’ve felt the same at times & asked myself “what’s the point ?” I realise the enormity of the whole thing . The rhetoric of those in power I have to let go of as I realise they are not awakened souls & are ignorant & blind. However I must nourish my interior world & continue to have compassion for myself & those who are spiritually dead.
    I continue with protest actions & im not alone in this quest. We have each other we are stronger together & we identify at depth so the love & courage can sustain us as we carry on the Rebellion. Thank you x

    • Rebecca Stonehill
      Rebecca Stonehill says:

      Hi Greta, thank you so much for your beautiful words and thoughts. It can feel so isolating, can’t it, when we keep banging our peaceful drums and nobody appears to be listening. But we ARE stronger in community and I take so much inspiration from all these incredible people I find – you being one of them – who won’t be cowed and keep placing one foot in front of the other to help build a more just world. Take good care and thank you for reading and commenting xx

  2. Patrick Chalmers
    Patrick Chalmers says:

    Hi Rebecca. Yours is a beautiful, comforting and inspiring piece of work – not just for its eloquence but also for the emotional intelligence and love that it embodies. I am grateful for the activism that you are moved to engage in. I appreciate how difficult it is and what it must have taken you to get to this place of courage in action. I am inspired to continue in my own response to the alarming events, institutions and people with conventional power that I see around me – just by the force and integrity of your words and their expression. So thank you, deep soul. You are seen. You are appreciated. You are understood. Your work has been worthwhile already even if you were to choose to stop now and take a rest. No single person can bring about our world’s necessary transformation on their own. We do what we can and strive to maintain our peace and love as we do so. Not easy. Peace to you.

    • Rebecca Stonehill
      Rebecca Stonehill says:

      Dear Patrick, thank you so much for reading my poem and reaching out in such a heartfelt way. I feel bowled over and hugely humbled by your words. Thank you for seeing, witnessing and understanding me. Your words reminded me of a beautiful verse someone shared with me recently from the Talmud: ‘Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obliged to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.’ Thank you thank you 🙏🏽 your words are so gratefully received and deeply appreciated.

    • Rebecca Stonehill
      Rebecca Stonehill says:

      Dear Tina, thank you SO much, that means a huge amount. Thank you for reading, understanding and sharing 🙏🏽💚

  3. Kevin Haigh
    Kevin Haigh says:

    Hi Rebecca, thank you for these wonderful, challenging, inspiring words. I am on a coach going to Scotland and the scenery is so beautiful on this autumn day. The sun is cascading through multi cloured trees. How long will we have this? Will my 8 grandchildren be able to experience this? What world will they have?
    Thank you so much for your thoughts, your example, and the work you are doing to try and light the fire of change.

    • Rebecca Stonehill
      Rebecca Stonehill says:

      Hi Kevin, thank you so much for your really lovely message. It’s so hard to look at the incredible beauty of the natural world now without sadness, isn’t it, knowing how much is at stake. Sending strength and courage to you and thank you for reaching out 🙏🏽

    • Rebecca Stonehill
      Rebecca Stonehill says:

      Thank YOU so much Robbie! For being at the webinar, for listening to my poem and for this message. Very best wishes to you

  4. Jenny Beale
    Jenny Beale says:

    I found this very moving, Rebecca, thank you for sharing it. I can relate to the weariness and the difficulty of accepting that other people don’t feel as passionate about the issues. Thank you for keeping going in spite of the weariness, and know that’s it’s ok if you need to rest.
    I found your focus on kindness beautiful and hopeful – I do believe that people are basically kind. Your description of how the police officer was disarmed by your comments is telling, and very human. How to build on this… it’s making me think, which is good. And being kind to each other and ourselves so important too.
    Have you read Humankind:a hopeful history by Rutger Bregman? He challenges the idea that human nature is intrinsically selfish, and revisits aspects of history to show how kindness was at the forefront. I found it very compelling and hopeful.
    All the best to you.

    • Rebecca Stonehill
      Rebecca Stonehill says:

      Hi Jenny, thank you so much for reading my poem and for your really thoughtful comments. It’s very true that it’s also important to be kind to myself (which includes, very importantly, allowing myself to rest), a balance which I mostly but definitely don’t always quite strike. I have heard of Humankind but haven’t read it, which I definitely will now. Thank you for the heads up. I do hope you’re well Jenny with all your projects and your writing and I hope our paths cross again one day. With very best wishes, Rebecca x


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