(Posted for Interntionational Coming-Out Day 2018)
Midwife Calling – 40 Days at Nonnatus House – Day 27
From Call the Midwife:
(Underneath railway arch waiting in the snow outside Nonnatus House)
Patsy: Where on earth have you been?
Delia: Didn’t want to knock on the door. Didn’t want to be asked in, to see you for the first time with everybody watching.
Patsy: Wait here. I need to change out of my uniform….
(later in café)
Delia: I couldn’t write at all to begin with. Not for the first month. But after that, I sent three letters. My mother posted them (Patsy raises eyebrows) or maybe she didn’t.
Patsy: I would have answered if I’d got them. You know I would have answered. Does she suspect?
Delia: She thinks you’re my friend from training school.
Patsy: Oh, yes, the lady she helps at Cubs.
Delia: I promise you, that’s all she thinks. But she doesn’t want me coming back to London to live or to nurse.
Patsy: Why not, if you’re well enough?
Delia: In her mind, I’ll never be well enough…
Patsy: You look tired.
Delia: I lose my train of thoughts sometimes
Patsy: Better than losing you….
Delia: I’ll be on the bus back to Hornsey soon.
Patsy: I don’t know what I’m supposed to say to that
Delia: You’re supposed to say, ‘Don’t disappear again’. You’re supposed to say, ‘Meet me again, write to me. Don’t break the thread.’ Let’s pick up all the broken pieces. Let’s pick up where we were.
Patsy: Can’t I just say ‘Come back’?
Delia: Yes… I have to come back to work. Back to London. This is where my life is and where you are.
Patsy: Deils, I’m not going anywhere.
(Series 4 – Christmas)
From The Scriptures:
When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 2 Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. 3 Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. 4 Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that he was wearing, and gave it to David, and his armour, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.
…. Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, ‘May the Lord seek out the enemies of David.’ 17 Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him; for he loved him as he loved his own life.
(1 Samuel 18.1-4, 20.16-17)
If I am not careful I will read into the tender love story of Patsy and Delia some of the dross of the world in which I move today and not hear the voice of The One Who Loves us Best in amongst their care for each other. So please be patient with the words which follow.
It appears in the United Kingdom it was never, in distinction to men, a criminal offence to be in a lesbian relationship. But even in the more liberal time of the late 1960’s (when Patsy and Delia meet) it was frowned upon. Patsy does not want Delia’s mother to suspect their ‘secret’ but also is irked that she is seen only as, ‘the lady she helps at Cubs’.
What draws me to the story of Delia and Patsy is their tenderness for each other and their determination to give themselves away each to the other. Their love, like that of David and Jonathan in the Old Testament, is a covenant love and the world is a poorer place for not always valuing such love.
They have literally, again like David and Jonathan, been through hell. The tentative first steps of their relationship, followed by the growing confidence and the decision to move into a flat together. Then Delia’s tragic accident leaving her with loss of memory, unable to recognise her lover, and falling back into the arms of a caring yet controlling mother.
But Delia persists. This young slip of a thing from the valleys in Wales, unsophisticated and perhaps in the shadow of the über-confident Nurse Mount, is the one who returns to rebuild what once was. Delia is the one who writes the, unsent by her mother, love letters. Delia is the one who does not want to embarrass Patsy and so waits in the snow for her. Delia is the one who encourages Patsy to hold her hand and step out into a new world. So much for being the young slip of a thing from the valleys! Of the two Delia is perhaps the stronger.
‘Don’t break the thread.’ Is her plea. This is her plea for all those who have a covenant love between them. Covenant love takes so many different shapes. Mother and child, husband and wife, sibling to sibling, comrade-in-arms to comrade-in-arms, lover to lover, and of course nun to nun in the sisterhood of the religious life. All of them live out the deep love that is called covenant.
Whenever society, and especially the church, acclaims the rich variety of these loves as forms of marriage my heart sings. If this love has to remain hidden, furtive, and secret my heart is saddened but the love remains undiminished. In the darkness the smallest flame burns the brightest!
If you know of a covenant love like this, or are blessed to be part of such love, hear Delia’s words of wisdom, Don’t break the thread!’ Make every effort to always support lovers and to always be a lover. Whenever we do the whole of the human race always wins.
Pray for those around you who have to keep their love secret.
Pray for those who have been able to come out of the closet
Pray for those who pay a price for their love
You are holy, Lord, the only God,
and your deeds are wonderful…
You are Good, all Good,
Lord God, living and true,
You are love.
You are wisdom.
You are humility.
You are endurance.
You are rest.
You are peace.
You are joy and gladness.
You are justice and moderation.
You are all our riches,
and You suffice for us…
(Francis of Assisi 1181 – 1226)
About Call the Midwife: Call the Midwife is a British period drama television series based on the memoirs of former nurse Jennifer Worth (née Lee), who died shortly before the first episode was broadcast. It is set in the late 1950s and early 1960s and for the first three series centred primarily on Jenny Lee herself, who, in the first episode, begins a new job as a midwife at a nursing convent in the deprived Poplar district of East London. The programme’s cast includes nuns who live at the convent and other midwives and nurses who share life with the nuns. At the beginning and end of each episode the voice of “Mature Jenny’ sets the scenes and sums up what has happened. These ‘voiceovers’ make up most of the quotes used in these reflections.
A Synopsis of each episode may be found here:
Quotes from ‘Call the Midwife’ are copyright © 2016 BBC. If you enjoy this programme please consider buying the DVD’s rather than downloading unauthorized copies from the Internet.
Scripture quotes are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America
Prayers are from the collection ‘Yours Is the Day, Lord, Yours Is the Night’, copyright © 2012 Jeanie Gushee & David P. Gushee.
‘Midwife Calling- 40 Days at Nonnatus House’ is copyright © 2016 Andrew Dotchin
2 thoughts on “Will you Fight Someone Else’s Battle?”
Reverend Andrew Dotchin,
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!!!
I just LOVE this post! You have spoken the words of my heart! You have written my yearnings! You have written a piece, here, that might have come from my heart, were it not for the clumsiness of my words and my bumbling mind’s butterfly flights.
I want to tell you a little tale.
I grew up in a family of four boys – I was the youngest – and both our parents. Our family was blessed, in that our dad worked in a Reserved Occupation, manufacturing webbing for the armed forces, and had not been conscripted to fight. Mum was a dab hand at family life and fulfilling the responsibilities that, in those days (I was born in 1950), were just seen, automatically, as “woman’s work”. How she managed I shall never know. But manage she did and with great aplomb. We all, dad included, went to the local Methodist Chapel every week and I loved standing next to my tall, handsome dad, hearing his tuneful tenor tones singing, sometimes in harmony too, to all those rousing Methodist hymns. He was also a quiet man, strong in arm and character. He’d lost his mum, so tragically, when he was just 14 and his dad, my grandad, took solace at the local pubs, where he’d sing all night, most nights, for his beer. It was there he met his second wife, dad’s stepmum. I don’t think dad and she got along too well, because, up to marrying mum in 1936, he lived with various aunts or grandparents.
I mention that, just to say I had a super role model, in my dad. I wasn’t “turned” by living only with a mother, as some professionals wanted to propose, in those days
So, back to now.
I have just turned 68, and I lived my life from the ages of 16 to around 53, trying to please girlfriends and wives – not both at the same time, I must add!!!
(Reminds me of the chap, who, when raising a glass to make this toast, “To my wife and girlfriend” added “And may they never meet!!”). But I digress.
It was only when I reached 53 years young, that I somehow pieced together all those thoughts and feelings I’d had from being a young child and realised that my natural inclination was not directed to the ladies, which, whilst I did my level best to be a good boyfriend/husband to them, I just couldn’t be. So, I dropped what I realised had been a pretence with myself and gradually cooled down towards the then Mrs. Me. I must add right now, that it’s only with the benefit of hindsight that I’m able to notice I had cooled down in my affections. My then wife was, and still is, a good woman and deserved better than anything I could give her. I did, however, father two wonderful children and I was Dad also to her two children, one of whom treats me as his very own dad (I moved in, when he was 8 weeks old so I suppose he only experienced my imprinting, as it were). The other lad, who knew his own dad, who left him when he was 3, or 4, found it harder with me.
At some time in the following six years, from having my Damascus Road experience, at 53, I had a mental breakdown, leading up to my giving my notice at the place I had worked for 25 years, when I was 59, and where I had a respected position and I even resigned, without telling my wife. I say resigned, whereas I asked my boss, the owner of the firm, to make me redundant. He agreed and even enhanced the payout.
Again, without saying one word to anyone, and I mean anyone, I ran away to France, with my redundancy cash and thought never to return but I hadn’t banked on the pull that children exert over their dad and, so, two weeks after I left, I was back home, trying to apologise to my then 14 year old daughter for missing her birthday. How could I miss her birthday???
Shows you what a mess I was in. After another 6 months of sheer torment for my wife and me, I left and my wife carried on, alone. She did a good job and held everything together.
By this time, I had moved away and, alone too, gradually healed myself back to something like the man I’d been. I’m not there yet but I’m mostly ok with myself. I have many regrets and am sad that I didn’t front up to my feelings and also that my leaving placed unnecessary pressures on my children.
Why do I tell you my story? Because ignoring, choosing to ignore what your authentic self tells you, about who you are, is so damaging, not only to you, but to ALL the people in your immediate circle.
As I’ve already said, how I wish I’d been brave enough to stand on my own two feet and say be blowed to what people think!! But I didn’t and I’ll no doubt have to answer to the Lord, at some time in the future.
I’m at a stage in my life now, where I don’t really care what other people think of me. I’ve enough to do trying to hold on to my mind, some days.
Denying yourself your authentic sexuality is SO VERY DAMAGING and I’m trying hard these days to be kind to the real me. (I am, by the way, fighting the desire to bawl like a baby right now. This is bringing so much so much up for me).
Thank you, again, Andrew Dotchin, for your great post. It was inspired.
Thank you friend – I’m glad you are finding peace on the Damascus Road