I have been reflecting today about fellowship. What it means, where you can get it, how you can become a part of it. To me a fellowship, in a non-religious sense, means a company of individuals connected by a common purpose, with similar interests and values, who are committed to that goal or purpose. Each individual works as part of a team to support the other individuals on their journey.
There are many different kinds of fellowship; some are based around shared passions, others around belief systems or ways of thinking about the world. How you find and become part of a fellowship is a tricker question. My feeling is that you can’t decide to form a fellowship, it comes into being and then you realise what it is.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have found two very different but equally supportive and nourishing fellowships in the past few months. It has made me realise the truth in the quote that the human need for fellowship is as deep as the need for food.
The unconditional safety net provided by a fellowship comes into its own when one of the individuals in the group is going through a challenging time. The others rally round, offering their skills and support.
At the moment, I am the member of the fellowship going through a tough time and have been awestruck by the offers of help that I’ve had from my companions. As I’ve often told myself a story in the past about always having to deal with difficulty on my own, it has given me so much comfort to know that the fellowship is there to hold me in its embrace.
The joyous part of fellowship is that the members don’t need to be close friends, although many of them will become friends. The important thing is that they are there if you need them and you trust them because they share your values.
I now understand why I am so compelled by The Lord of the Rings and can watch the film trilogy over and over again: fellowship is the theme that runs through the epic story. The members of the fellowship are all very different - indeed some of them start out by actively disliking each other - but they are united by the common purpose of delivering the one ring into the bowels of Mount Doom to free Middle Earth from evil.
By the end of the story, after all is said and done, they are all heroes in their own way and have been utterly transformed by the journey they have been on together. That is what I resonate with and that is the sort of fellowship I want to be a part of.
Forget social media, this is the type of connection we crave as human beings - real, flesh-and-blood trust and mutual support. As the Three Musketeers said - all for one and one for all.