Thursday, January 24, 2008


Yesterday while doing a little shopping, I ran into a woman who I have known for many years principally through our children’s school and more recently by attending the same church (which some of you may recall is no longer the case.) I could hear the question before it was even out of her mouth, so I was prepared to answer boldly.
“Where are you fellowshipping these days?” she asked.
“No where” I answered strongly, because I refused to feel guilty about our decision. I then, of course, hemmed and hawed around about how “It is hard and we are looking, blah blah blah.”

Walking away I felt like I had just told a big fat lie…not the “we are looking” part, but the “no where” part. It felt like such a falsehood, because in reality I am fellowshipping daily with the world; with myself; with my internet friends; on the phone with my sister; with my husband as we talk about our faith journey; with anyone really who wants to be even a little bit authentic or at least listen to me as I practice my often feeble attempts ☺.

So, what is fellowship? In the way this woman asked, it felt so a single building in which to perform ritual on a specific day and time of the week. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe in ritual and gathering together in relationship, but fellowship feels so much bigger to me than something we just do on Sunday morning.

As I thought about this I realized that this week alone, I have made new friends in Paris, Scotland and a number of other places around the world. I witnessed an amazing sunrise through the sharing of a man’s childlike drawing he made to remember the red of the sky flashing in house windows…that is fellowship. Strangers and friends from all over listened to my heart and said, “Go! Go! Go!!” rather than scoffing at me like I was a naughty child…that is fellowship. When my heart connects with the beauty of nature; the moon, the sun, the cold air on my face, the flowers at the market…that is fellowship.

Fellowship is not simply held inside four walls with a designated group of “believers”. It is life. The homeless man on the street. The laughing infant in the coffee shop. The "stranger" in Paris. So, back to the original question: “Where am I fellowshipping these days?” EVERYWHERE! And it feels really good to say that and mean it!!! So, my friends, I leave you with the same question to ponder…

Where are you fellowshipping?

photo by lucy taken on a recent neighborhood walk


Dianna Woolley said...

I too am fellowshipping many more places than I would have suspected a year ago. That is a truly precious gift I am treasuring.

As you know, I do have a disciplined ritual of Sunday a.m. worship, along with 2 separate weekly spiritual formation group meetings.

For me, the "wide blogging, the community in which I live, and personal daily" fellowship with strangers and family alike, is all brought together in those appointed times that I intentionally set aside for public praise of God's generous gift of my life. (And when I say "public" I don't mean in terms of the Pharisee bragging in the temple.....:)

I cannot, do not, will not, judge your decisions re a public gathering place. I hope it's still in the realm of your scope to consider some such place when the call is whispered in your ear.


Anonymous said...

Amen lucy, as you know I am in a similar place and I love the way you expressed this. Yes, our relationship to the world is the whole point and there are sacred moments at every turn.

That said, I would still love to explore with you and your beloved some more intentional forms of community at some point.

H.M. said...

"Where are you fellowshipping?" you ask.

The answer I give you is:

" Lucy's place."


paris parfait said...

A lovely, thoughtful post, Lucy. I agree with you - one doesn't have to be in a church for fellowship.

Lins said...

Well said, Lucy, well said.

Kayce aka lucy said...

sunrise sis--i find these conversations so challenging because, there is so much more to the story than can be conveyed in mere words.

group fellowship is certainly in the scope of possibility and my reply to the woman of "we're looking" was not a falsehood, however, not all parishes/churches are fortunate enough to have a fr. steve in the pulpit and the last few times i have "tried church", there has been more condemnation and judgment from the leadership than suits me right now.

i know you have to be aware that i am not looking for an easy way out and am open to conversation, but unfortunately the leadership i continue to run into is not really open to conversation. maybe i am just looking in the wrong places.

abbey...thanks for your support and i love the thought of "intentional forms of community".

h.m.--you make me smile :)

paris parfait--you make me smile, too...just your name in my mailbox makes me smile :) not to mention kind remarks!

lins--good to see you here!! i love having another male point of view!

Kate I said...

Lucy, what a powerful post! I searched for many years to find a "Spiritual community" and finally realized that it was just too confining for me. My community is the world and all within it. I love that I can be in fellowship with Christians, Buddhists, Muslims etc and we all share a sacred space in this world...we just have different labels and names for it...and some have no labels and no names other than Spirit or Love.

I've heard it said that we're all heading "home", we just have different paths leading there.

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this today.

Kel said...

sometimes i think we shouldn't get too concerned with that question - when most churchey people ask the question, they probably don't really want to know, or even "care", but it's just one of those questions like "what do you do for a living...."

despite that, i understand what it's like to come up with creative answers that suit the person who asked

as someone on a similar journey I love that answer!

Country Parson said...

I am sorry and ashamed that your experiences in church have not nourished your soul, but that is what it is about, and in ways more profound that fellowship, even at its best. We are called to gather together in God's name in holy time and space, and, in the my tradition and the tradition of the early church, to be in direct, physical and spiritual communion with Christ through the Eucharist. It is a time and place to be refreshed, healed, fed, restored and sent out to do God's work, and it is a time and place for all sorts and conditions of human being to gather without condemnation or judgment either from God or from one another. I regret that that is not true in all places and at all times. Lest you feel way out in left (or right) field. Bonhoeffer had some of the same feelings you have had and expressed them well in his "Letters and Papers from Prison" in which he wondered if we did not need a religionless religion of some kind. In the end he would not give up on that central moment of holy communion with God in Christ physically present in bread and wine and shared with one another in love.

Kayce aka lucy said...

thanks, cp. your words ring very true. in fact, the holy communion and breaking of bread, sharing of wine are the things i yearn for most in my absence from "church". when i went to a mainstream local cathedral at Christmas, the Eucharist was a nourishing time for me...unfortunately, the rest of the service paled considerably and kind of left me wondering "what the heck???"
i make a point of remembering Christ when having a meal (fellowship, communion) with others and being grateful for all that has been given me in this life. please do not feel shame that i am not being nourished in church, for my soul is greatly fed in more profound ways on a day by day even moment by moment basis than i ever dreamed imaginable. as i started with this post, i believe that fellowship can be found everywhere if we allow ourselves to be open to receiving it.
Bonhoeffer's words remind me of a recent quote i read by meister eckhart...
"To seek God by rituals is to get the ritual and lose God in the process, for he hides behind it."

some times God shows up in ways we least expect it, in places that we/man have not designated as holy.

elaine said...

Lucy, I appreciate the honesty of your post. I think you are right -- to think of "fellowshipping" as a possibility in every context, not just within a traditional church.

Kayce aka lucy said...

kate i--thank you for stopping by and "weighing in"...i love the thought of all of us heading home just on different paths...i think that extends within faith communities too as well as among different ones :-)

kel--i realized at some point after reading your comment that i totally agree with you about people asking the question and not really caring to hear the answer, but that it is important for ME to know what that answer is for myself (& not just so i can have a snappy response when asked.)

elaine--thanks...your comments added even more depth for me, because i don't want anyone to hear that i don't think fellowship can happen in a traditional church, because it can and does.

church is part of "everywhere" after all, isn't it? :-)


Country Parson said...

My first reading of your post left me wondering what in the world "fellowshiping" might be. Even my spell check is unsure. We seem to have talent for making nouns into verbs, especially when talking religion. I could not agree more that we do not go to church in order to fellowship (a verb). Engaging in fellowship is what we are to do day in and day out in ever more adventuresome ways - exactly what you are doing so well. As I said, gently and politely, to my congregation last Sunday, the only reason you are in here is to be prepared to go out there and do something for the good of God's creation, and if you come back next Sunday having done nothing you have wasted your time in here. There is more, of course, but I fear I must warming up to an entire essay so I'll be quiet.

Kayce aka lucy said...

cp--does that mean we will see a new "essay" at your site soon on this topic? xoxxo

Anonymous said...

Dear Lucy, I read your post and then carried it with me since yesterday (a sign of a great post!) According to the dictionary the definition of Fellowship is "The condition or relation of being a fellow; community of interest; companionship; mutual intercourse; communion; friendliness; a body of fellows; a company; a guild or corporation; the position or emoluments of a fellow of a university; a foundation for the maintenance of such a fellow." Now even though I wished reading this that fellow was in the feminine (fellowess perhaps!) that ready expanded my awareness of the question 'where are you in fellowship? I realized like Lucy that it certainly is not in the confines of my church sactuary although I admit that is a sacred time for me. It is in the office, the examining rooms, at the bedside in the hospital, at book club with my girlfriends discussing Jonathan Livingston Seagull or the Alchemist, during my early morning devotional readings with Henri Nouwen and before bed with Marianne Williamson and the Course in Miracles, around the dinner table with my family, checking in with Lucy and her wonderful blog and lastly shoulder to shoulder in the pew or at the communion rail at Centenary Methodist Church! (By the way my paster does not believe in hell, fire and damnation!) I loved the post, loved the question posed. Love, Pamela

Dianna Woolley said...

note to Pamela from Sunrise - Amen - great posts do stay in our minds for days. This post, for me, was also great to roll around and ponder for several days. Although, I am an Episcopalian now, I grew up in a Methodist church so lots of familiarity and similarities in the readings that you mentioned in your post.

Thanks Lucy for all of the great conversation this post brought to all!

Sue said...

Where am I fellowshipping? Well, it tends to just come upon me, you know? It happens a lot online. My cousin stayed at my house on Saturday night, and yesterday we kicked back and hung out together and shared stuff and what we're seeing and that was fellowship for sure.

I fellowship by myself, in my heart, with my God :)

But still, I really want to have more fellowship with "skin on" people. I hope it happens this year.

But gee, learning to find it wherever it comes, it's like learning to find diamonds in the sky, or in the grass, or hiding behind the couch :)