IVP - Strangely Dim - The Winter of Our Disconnect

October 31, 2003

The Winter of Our Disconnect

by David Zimmerman

I get to know my neighbors in six-month installments. They’re within walking distance, so there’s doesn’t seem to be any point in calling them on the phone; e-mailing them likewise seems too . . . distant. Nevertheless, come winter they might as well drop off the face of the earth. We lose all contact. Blame the weather, blame network television programming schedules, speculate about a human hibernation impulse—however you slice it, I know that the last time I saw my neighbors is likely the last time I’ll see my neighbors till the leaves start growing back on the trees.

I suppose that’s not always a bad thing. If familiarity breeds contempt, then a built-in check against familiarity goes a long way toward keeping us civil toward one another. But that would be nothing more than a side-effect; unfamiliarity does its own breeding.

We have imaginations of what people are really like, and I don’t know about you, but my imaginations keep people at a pretty subhuman level. Neighbors who are soft-spoken in my presence make hardly a peep all winter; I imagine them shuffling around in a zombielike state, waiting for me—their fair-weather messiah—to breathe some type of life into their semiconscious bones. Neighbors who like to have parties, I imagine, spend all winter alone in a drunken stupor, waiting for me to give them some reason for temperance.

It’s hard to recall that our seasonal friends and neighbors continue to exist once we close the door on them, mostly because we have our own lives to live, and our transition from summer to winter is seamless to our own eyes. But my neighbors do go on living, and even thriving, without my regular intervention. I said goodbye to one neighbor last fall, and hello to her newborn when spring came along. Next time I see the baby, she’ll probably be picking all my flowers and tramping on all my plants.

It’s a good thing my neighbors don’t count on me for their existence, and it’s good that I don’t have to count on them. If God were given to hibernation, would we ever see the light of day again?

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at October 31, 2003 11:17 AM Bookmark and Share

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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