The BBC news last night discussed unmarried mothers in post-war Britain. Considered to be ‘fallen women’ and unsuitable mothers, their babies were taken from them at birth and given to ‘suitable parents’ who could adopt them…
When I was young, a good Christian family who came to our church lived round the corner from us. My brother and I often played out with their children. Daughter Jillian, about my brother’s age, ‘went away’ for a period of time. Her younger sister, my friend Pauline, told me that she had ‘fallen pregnant’. I was sworn to secrecy!
‘Fallen woman’ was often used to describe a woman who, in previous generations, had ‘fallen pregnant’. Just as Eve ate the forbidden fruit, so too the unmarried mother had eaten forbidden fruit and fallen both from her innocence and from the grace of God.
…Scandalously men were not seen to be fallen, carrying neither guilt nor baby!
Squirrels come to our garden regularly. Yesterday a very small young squirrel came. Jumping off the top of a fence post with uncertainty he landed in a forsythia bush. He tried once or twice more and seemed to get the hang of it.
Jumping and falling for the squirrel is part of learning and growing up. We all learn by our fallings and failings…
My friend Olly spoke of a recent conversation with friends about fallen sheep… When they are upside-down they need help from the shepherd to get back on their feet.
He linked this to the words of the Psalmist: ‘Why are you downcast (upside-down) O my soul?… put your hope in God.‘
Like the sheep we all fall. Some of us fall privately, some very publicly. We need help – whether human or divine – to get back on our feet…
I continue to be delighted to see those who rally round with practical empathy and compassion, supporting and not condemning those who have fallen.