Jul 10, 2016 by Norris Burkes

Excerpt from Norris’ upcoming book, “Thriving, Not Just Surviving.”
When I travel, I never leave home without my most important tool of resilience – my pillow.

Recently, I was rushing out of the house to catch a plane at O’dark-30. I kissed my sleeping beauty and grabbed my trusty pillow.

An hour later, I was running the well-lit terminal and realized I’d grabbed my wife’s extra pillow – the one with the bright pink case. It’s not that I’m sexist. I truly think real men can wear pink, but a pink pillowcase crosses a manly boundary. And you should know that I have boundary issues.

I suppose it’s surprising to some of you that a grown man, who’d dare open-carry a pillow, would be concerned over the color; but I was.

I was in such a hurry to catch the plane that I had not only grabbed the wrong pillow, but I became that rude guy in such a rush that he sideswipes his way down the moving sidewalk. At one point, I passed a girl sucking her thumb and swinging her baby doll. The girl pointed to me, but her mother lowered the girl’s arm with whispered response.

Was it my pillow? Was she making fun of it? Hmm. Maybe she wanted it. I quickened my pace.

Hoping no one at the security checkpoint would notice the downy softness of my pillow; I slung it onto the conveyor belt. I supposed they wouldn’t have noticed it if I hadn’t walked off without it.

“Wait,” the security lady, yelled, “Is this your pink pillow?”

Mortified, I turned toward her. She was beaming the sassy look of someone who’s got you in the crosshairs of humiliation.

“You’ll need this to go ‘night-night,'” she said.

I grabbed at the pillow, feeling her tugging grip just a second too long. I was sure she would demand to see my man-card.

The whole thing reminded me of those moments in life when we feel exposed by life’s little security checkpoints. You know what I mean. These are the moments when someone calls our bluff, when someone calls us up short and strips us of our false importance.

Just as in the airport checkpoints where you lay aside the entrapments of importance – cell phones, fat wallets, Rolex wannabes, designer shoes, and, yes, even pink pillows – there are checkpoints where we encounter a divine presence that will thoroughly search our souls.

Life has a grand way of running us through these serendipitous checkpoints. They will often be places that strip us of our self-interest, our pride, our hardness, our excuses, our grudges.

For instance, I find my checkpoints in the hospital chapel or in the quiet corner of the church sanctuary during communion. These are the places I kneel and ask God to sound an alarm if I’m carrying stuff that I shouldn’t be carrying.

Sometimes I find these checkpoints on the beach when I’m walking at the water’s edge. During the crashing surf, I can almost hear the waves laughing at the grandiose images I’ve constructed of myself.

Take a moment this week and ask God to put you through a checkpoint. Ask him what you are carrying that will either embarrass him or will keep you from being the image he has created you to be. But be warned. God isn’t shy about sounding the gawking buzz to tell us we’ve been found out.

And with that humble bit of wisdom, I’ll pull my pink pillow up to my travel beard and say, “Night, night, y’all.”

– Write Norris at comment@thechaplain.net or P.O. Box 247, Elk Grove, CA 95759. Twitter @chaplain, or call 843-608-9715.