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“During Lent-we give up the things we love. We repent. We make sacrifices. Even the altar must go without flowers. We deny ourselves pleasure. We forgo cake, coffee, sweets, sugar in our tea … or try to. We promise to forbid ourselves - cigarettes …and when we fail … we are policed by fellow penitents. Enjoyment itself is contraband – much is ruined in pursuit of self-improvement. We are all exposed as very far from perfect.”
I really enjoyed this episode and as a Modern Day Midwife what I took away from this was that at times we have to practice acceptance. Sister Julienne was so compassionate and tried to bridge so many obstacles for Tina Atkins as she traversed her unplanned pregnancy. It can be hard as we can see a way forward for them. We can look at the varied barriers, the varied angles and strategies to overcome obstacles, ways to support an individual; but, all that really matters, in the end, is where that individual is…. And we have to accept that and then help optimize their situation. For Sister Julienne this was to accept that Tina did not want to mother her two children and to accept that helping her never go through this again would be the best thing for Tina.
This message is important in the midst of this unprecedented and chaotic crisis of COVID-19. When we cannot alter things or control things—it is ok to sit and allow yourself the grace to accept your thoughts and feelings—but then I find it helpful to focus on things that I can control. For me this is when I wake up before I start my day—I can center myself. I can take a few breaths and just be in that moment. For some it may be prayer, for some it may be meditating. Those moments are actually profound—each moment emerges and will not come again—accept it—be open to those moments. Try to stay in the present. Yes, it may be a really confusing time and things can be uncomfortable or even overwhelming—but for that moment, breathe … and then breathe again.
For many, this time is filled with experiences that are difficult, traumatic or painful. It is an unprecedented and chaotic time for our health care providers; students that are not able to pursue their clinical experiences; parents that not working and worried about how they will feed their children and meet their needs. We are so accustomed to having the ability to make choices. We are accustomed to being able to accept, to change our situation with strategies, or to just abandon or leave something that does not fit anymore. But, when change is not currently possible—we need to gently move into acceptance. We can embrace the present and try to see the things within that framework that we can control. I have been praying, meditating, exercising, journaling, and also practicing gratitude. I have been trying to see the positives within the situation: time at home with my family, sharing a good meal, time to brush out and play with my animal, time to tackle a few things that need to be organized. We can face the present time with compassion—embrace the present—knowing that all things eventually change.
“Not all of us can choose what we give up. The things we love are taken or never ours at all. Life is defined not by what we let go but what we let in …. friendship and kind words – frailty and hope. To be human is to be imperfect and to accept that is to thrive. No pass is always strewn with flowers but therein lies the power of each fragile, tender, bloom.”
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