If you haven’t yet embraced this stirring PBS offering, there’s one more TV season to go . . . and it’s hugely worth your time to binge-watch all previous seasons and catch up. It’s easily the finest thing on television: telling weekly stories of midwives in the 1950s, serving pregnant moms in London’s poorest neighborhoods. There’s humor and pathos and wonderfully dramatic tales; the delivery scenes are astonishingly graphic. Trust me; you will often dab at your eyes.
The source books by Jennifer Worth are equally good. She writes in the first person about her experience as a secular and cynical young nurse drafted to work at Nonnatus House with the nuns. She arrives to the story as an agnostic, and admits to often rolling her eyes at the piety of the sisters. But let me share just a few paragraphs close to the book’s end. As a Christian, I am deeply touched by this.
“I had never met nuns before,” she confesses, “and regarded them at first as a bit of a joke; later, with astonishment bordering on incredulity. Finally this was replaced by respect, and then love. What had impelled Sister Monica Joan to abandon a privileged life for one of hardship, working in the slums of London’s Docklands? ‘Was it love of people?’ I asked her.
“‘Of course not,’ she snapped sharply. (That’s her character, a brittle eccentric.) ‘How can you love ignorant, brutish people whom you don’t even know? Can anyone love filth and squalor? Or lice and rats? Who can love aching weariness, and carry on working in spite of it? One cannot love these things. One can only love God, and through His grace come to love His people.’”
The closing line of the book: “That evening I started to read the Gospels.”