Thursday, May 7, 2020

The pancakes aren't the important part

     Sophomore season is usually toughest. So as satisfied as I was with my first effort for Northbrook Voice two months ago, I'm even more pleased that my second essay, appearing in the current issue, hits the sweet spot, that narrow intersection between sentiments the village of Northbrook will happily publish, and prose I'd be glad to sign my name to. 
    The highlight was talking to Village Presbyterian Church's Rev. Lundgaard, who instantly grasped what I was doing, swung smartly and hit the ball exactly where it needed to go. This was not his first time at bat.
    It helped that the assignment—something about community—coincidently meshed with the COVID-19 crisis, which arrived just as I began work on this. People on my street are hard hit—jobs lost, companies crumbling, kids' bright futures suddenly clouded. But we're keeping our spirits up, mostly, and sticking together as neighbors should. And that's something to be proud of.

     Every February, the Village Presbyterian Church hosts a pancake breakfast run by the Boy Scouts. And every February we walk over, even though we aren’t Presbyterian, my sons were never Boy Scouts, and I’m not particularly fond of pancakes. 

     Why? There are people and fun — two things that often go together. Music, and prizes. The festivities only cost $8 a head, the money goes to charity. Yes, you are expected to eat pancakes, but nothing’s perfect. 
     You run into old friends and make new acquaintances. The Village President pours you a cup of coffee. You immerse yourself in your community, which may be the most important-yet-routinely-neglected aspect of our lives. Few people go a day without brushing their teeth, or a week without a shower. But they’ll let a month slip by and never deviate between work and home, with the occasional quick detour into a store or restaurant thrown in for variety’s sake. Or two months. Or six. 
     At least that was the case before the COVID-19 crisis seized Northbrook, along with every other place on Earth. Suddenly even those small dips into public life were off the table. We couldn’t sit for 10 minutes in Starbucks and silently drink a cup of coffee and glance at the person at the next table. It’s as if fate had sent us to our rooms like naughty children, to think about the importance of interconnection. A fact of life that some of us never stop thinking about.
     “We talk about community all the time,” said Rev. Spencer Lundgaard, senior pastor of Village Presbyterian Church. “The heart of the church is this notion of belonging to one another. That is so important. When we are at our best is when what we do is through relationships, when we are bound together. I’m better off because I’m with you; you’re better of because you’re with me. Something incredible, something beautiful takes place.”
To continue reading, click here and scroll to page 5. 


  1. Reading this panegyric to togetherness, the thought came to mind that the morons flocking together with their weaponry to display their disgust at the government's efforts to protect them are seeking much the same as we are; they're just not looking in the right place.


  2. It’s true that we usually don’t appreciate what we once, but no longer, have; In my neighborhood we wave to each other every afternoon as we stand on our back outside decks. It helps a little just to connect in that way.
    Cool that Neil is writing for his neighborhood paper!


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