Funny thing. Before I became pregnant I never really noticed many pregnant women. Then, suddenly, they seemed to be all about me. And we would have an instant rapport. We could discuss morning sickness, when we first felt life within us, whether we wanted to have a natural birth. Our hopes and fears about pregnancy and delivery were all grist for the mill and we followed each other’s lives with interest. We had become members of a club of people with similar trials and experiences.

As my family grew, I noticed another club. This was the club of large families. (In the “olden days” a large family was eight or more; more recently it is only three!) When I met a mother with four or more children I knew she was a kindred spirit. She had dealt with night terrors, pinworms, earaches, the “terrible twos,” endless diapers, various maladies ranging from life-threatening to just plain messy. But somehow she had apparently acquired a variety of coping mechanisms and her advice was usually worth listening to. Oftentimes she had actually discovered advantages to having multiple children

I always notice an instant rapport between members of the Knights of Columbus, baseball and football fans, all kinds of veterans, pro-life activists, computer technicians, entertainers, and on and on.

There might even be a club of hermits, which I don’t suppose meets very often. But if two of them should come together, there would be a mutual understanding about loneliness, long days and longer nights. What do you read? What do you eat? What do you hear from God? What insights have you gained? Would you recommend the lifestyle now that you’ve been there, done that?

Now that my real teeth are gradually leaving, one by one, and I worry that one day some dentist will say, “Let’s pull them all and give you an upper plate,” I’m looking at everyone’s teeth. And I wonder how much dental work the talking heads on TV have had in order to present to the public such even, perfect, shining teeth. I just know they did not all come by their dental perfection naturally. I note which friends have had extractions, partials, or plates. I have joined the club of those who grieve the parting of each tooth and envy those who can smile ear-to-ear, revealing lots of teeth all in a row, top and bottom.

It was Malcolm Muggeridge in his book, Confessions of a Twentieth Century Pilgrim who alerted me to the existence of a much larger club. He reported feeling an unaccountable tenderness toward his fellow soldiers, toward those he met on the street, whom he recognized as fellow travelers on space-ship Earth. They were all pilgrims of a sort with their exits and entrances, their angst and joys, loneliness and hopes, their worries that life might really be just a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury. His book was written at the age of 84.

Sometimes we come lately to a realization that we are not alone, that there are many others in the same boat. What clubs do you belong to? We are all members of that REALLY BIG club. Like Muggeridge, we are all fellow travelers on space-ship Earth. When you meet a fellow traveler, do you ask “How’s it going?” And do you listen as if you cared?