Encouraging One Another

By Norris Burkes Jul 23, 2017 A tall woman in jeans and a light blouse greeted my wife and me with “Bonjour.” Around us, people welcomed one another with a noisy kiss on each cheek. By now, we knew we “weren’t in Kanas anymore.” We were standing at the information table inside LifePoint Church, on

Bags Sometimes Shift During Flight

By Norris Burkes Posted Jul 16, 2017 I spent last week packing heavy suitcases for our new overseas life. However, they were relatively light compared to the suitcase of worry I had to unpack during a recent dentist visit. I’d come to check out a bump on my hard pallet, but no sooner had I

Fishy argument fails to hook commander

By Norris Burkes Posted Jul 2, 2017 It probably won’t surprise you that Independence Day reminds me of my freedom of religion. However, it might astonish you that I equally celebrate its conceptual cousin, “Freedom from Religion.” The latter wasn’t an easy notion to articulate one afternoon when I made an appointment with a lieutenant

How Much is Enough?

By Norris Burkes Jun 25, 2017 In answer to a reader’s question, I paraphrased Mark Twain to say, “The rumor of my retirement has been greatly exaggerated.” “I will definitely keep writing my column,” I assured her. “I retired only from two of my three jobs. In 2014, I retired from the Air National Guard

Badges of Faith

By Norris Burkes Posted Jun 18, 2017 In 1991, I put on my first hospital chaplain badge. My supervisor took one look at me and said, “You’ll need to remove your Christian cross.” The cross was a half-inch silver accouterment that I’d transferred from my Air Force uniform onto my ID badge. The stunning request

Dressed for Success or to Separate?

By Norris Burkes Published June 11,2017 During this past week as a hospice chaplain, I helped orient my new replacement. My first suggestion was, “Dress for success – lose the coat and necktie.” “Why?” he asked. I suggested that his level of dress might be a bit overstated as we sit with people who are

A Rose by any Other Name

Norris Burkes Posted Jun 4, 2017 at 1:00 AM Do you think we’ll recognize each other in the next life?” asked Dr. Nesbitt, stopping me just short of our morning staff meeting. I shot him a puzzled look and he returned fire with a rolling chair in my direction. Nesbitt was the Medical Director of

Navigating the ‘Hero’s Highway’

By Norris Burkes Posted May 28, 2017 This Memorial Day, as many Americans take to the highways, my heart navigates the “Hero’s Highway.” It’s a highway I knew in 2009 while serving as the chaplain for the Air Force Field Hospital in Balad Iraq. This “highway” consisted of a hundred yards of concrete from the

Doctor challenges chaplain’s belief in signs

By Norris Burkes Posted May 21, 2017 “Do you believe in signs?” asked Dr. William Nesbitt, the physician on our hospice team. It’s a question I’m frequently asked, especially from the new-age Californians. However, the doc isn’t new age. He’s a 66-year-old Evangelical with a fondness for writing stories he calls “Hospice Goosebumps.” “That depends,”

The Motherly Qualities of God

By Norris Burkes Posted May 14, 2017 Do mothers really know everything? There was a time when my kids thought so; they just weren’t sure how she knew. My wife tried to tell them that mothers see all because they have eyes in the back of their head. However, one day my preschool son, Michael,

Adventurous spirit — don’t leave home without it

By Norris Burkes Posted May 7, 2017 In 1992, I dragged my family from our California-dreamin’ home to Houston, where I accepted my first job as a hospital chaplain. Within a few short months, changes were afoot when the Baptist denomination asked us to represent them in active military chaplaincy. In the early interviews, my

The risk of an upside-down world

By Norris Burkes Posted Apr 30, 2017 “My world turned upside down” is an expression we use when things go wrong. It literally describes the feeling I had 10 years ago when my SUV turned upside down. My “world” wasn’t so much defined by my SUV that was upside-down on a levee road. My world