Assumptions or beliefs form the foundation of what we think, and therefore what we do. Assumptions based on something firm, real, and lasting bring ultimate peace. Assume God is real, that He means exactly what He says, and amazing things happen.
Enter stage right, epic assumptions on a current TV show! Yes, PBS’s “Call the Midwife” sort of sneaks up on you and won’t let you go. One might wonder, how did a “savvy” viewing public get so caught off-guard? Maybe it’s the more or less off-putting name. Many still refuse to give it a chance. Even I skepticised with assumptions. A reality show about birthing babies, on PBS?
But my assumptions were dead wrong. The program is neither a reality show nor about birthing babies. It’s a story about hope – written in the poignant journal of a young nurse, Jenny Lee. In her ink, transformed now on screen, we stare unwittingly close up, face to grimy face, in the poorest section of post-war London in the 1950s.
The central figures, a handful of Anglican nuns find daily strength in worship, prayers and contemplative songs. They live in the neighborhood in a combination convent and clinic. With one resident doctor, they dedicate their lives completely to the people they serve, souls they find precious simply because they live.
The nuns also house a small group of young nurse midwives in every stage (or non-stage) of spiritual interest. The nuns model for the younger women a love of humanity that defies understanding. How? Sacrifice, no judgement. The result? Heavy, exhausting days made lighter and shorter by that very love. These women assume their work not only important, but of cosmic proportion.
Now to be clear, in most episodes, babies do emerge from the wombs of their indigent mothers at the skillful urging of these “helpers.” The arrival of the midwife always brings hope, just as the arrival of the baby does. It’s as if each one rasps out in his first cry, “You can make it through another day. It will be tough, but I am here.” The assumption? Each new life is priceless.
Season Three continued the transient human drama with a love story of Jenny Lee. One episode impacted me on so many levels that I felt compelled to write about the irony of the story’s assumptions. Especially the irony of today’s society, how our assumptions changed with affluence and an entitlement mindset.
The episode begins with Jenny enjoying the attentions of a young man, Alec, who cherishes and respects her, including her dedication to midwifery. When he invites her to a weekend event out of town, she accepts, assuming he would reserve two rooms in their lodging.
To be sure, though, she pops in unannounced at his place of business. Not finding him there, she strikes up a conversation with his work associate who, in the twinkling of an eye, alters her assumption. He jokes about Alec “looking so forward” to their weekend away. Plants a seed of doubt about his intentions. When Alec walks into the room, sparks fly. She walks out.
Alec: You are making assumptions! (about my assumptions.)
Jenny: No, you are. (making assumptions about what I think is good and acceptable.)
Even though Jenny’s spiritual “jury” remained out, certain assumptions, rock solid under her feet, spoke to her of love. Such things as mutual respect, commitment, cherishing the “other” over self. From where did these assumptions come? In time maybe she would give credit where credit is due.
As for the outcome of the episode, you’ll just have to see it. But do yourself a favor and start at the beginning of Season One. Bask in the tender beauty these women build out of the rubble of poverty and heartbreak.
What do you think?
What assumptions (beliefs based on faith) have generally changed in our society over the past decades?
What about those of us who claim Christ’s name? Have we inwardly, secretly assumed He doesn’t notice us doing things our own way?
As for assumptions about sex, do you agree it used to be assumed more special? Back then, “normal” meant that Sex and Love form a “team” in marriage, though difficult and costly at times. It seems we’ve tossed the formidable “team” aside.
And who cares? For the shallow pleasure we condone today makes no assumptions at all.