By Norris Burkes Feb 4, 2024

In case you didn’t know, your digital calendar probably reminded you about Groundhog Day – AGAIN.

The outdated day gained modern fame from the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day,” where Bill Murray wakes up to repeat the same day over and over. 

Why in the world do I need a reminder of this useless day? I don’t own a groundhog. I don’t personally know anyone who does.

Still, perhaps I can use this day to recall and repeat a few things that I’ve occasionally mentioned at the end of my previous columns.

So, with a little indulgence from my editors, this column serves as that moment in the small-church service where the pastor pitches a few things and then asks, “Are there any other announcements today?”

Why yes, I have a few.

First, Join Chispa Project on its annual volunteer trip to establish a library in Honduran elementary schools. Chispa Project has enjoyed eight years of this repeated fun, creating over 80 libraries.

There’s a saying in Honduras that “If you drink the water, you’ll keep coming back.” I can’t think of anything more Groundhog’s Day than that.  

Time after time, I find myself returning to Honduras. Maybe it’s the water, but most likely it’s the warmth of the people or the thrill of seeing children open their first book.

Join my daughter, Sara, and me this year June 16 – 23 and help install a new children’s library. Details at www.chispaproject.org/volunteerproject.

Can’t travel this time? Consider donating, and if you really want to stay on theme, keep repeating it. Become a monthly donor like me!

Join our email lists. I promise we won’t share your info with anyone, and you can easily opt out any time.

While Chispa Project sends only an occasional announcement, I’ll send you this column every Friday. 

Why get the column by email when you can read it in your local paper? I want you to do both, but I also want you to forward the email column to friends. I also want to stay in touch when I finally retire this column. Join the list by emailing me at [email protected] or on the web site at https://thechaplain.net/newsletter/.

I can speak to your group. Many of you have heard me speak in the towns where my column runs. For instance, I’ve crossed Florida to speak in Melbourne, Lakeland and Fort Myers. I’ve spoken at colleges in Springfield, Mo., Staunton, Va., Charleston, S.C., and Riverside, Calif.

The churches in Binghamton, Elmira and Horseheads remain favorites in upstate New York. It’s been a while, but I’d love to return to Mountain Home, Ark. or Mansfield, Ohio. (Or any of the other nine Buckeye towns where my column runs.)

And if you’re reading from places where I’ve not yet shared like Lafayette, Ind., Montgomery, Ala. or in the California cities of Vacaville, Elk Grove and Auburn, I would love to make an appearance there too.

Buy one of my books. Even though I’m constantly mentioning my books, some readers are still surprised to learn about them. My books are a compilation of two decades+ of column-writing and will provide a way for the new reader to catch up.

My titles:

“No Small Miracles” (2008) is about my work as a pediatric chaplain.

“Hero’s Highway” (2011) relates my service in a Combat Field Hospital.

“Thriving Beyond Surviving” (2015) describes the seven “F” words I live by.

“Tell it To the Chaplain” (2023) shares descriptive chaplaincy stories in healthcare, the military and the church.

You can purchase the books on my website or simply send your book request and payment of $20 for each title to Norris Burkes at 10556 Combie Rd. Suite 6643 Auburn, CA 95602.

Maybe if my readers buy enough books, I’ll have enough money to buy a groundhog.

You’ll get a complimentary book when you start a monthly donation to Chispa or give a onetime donation of more than $100. Make checks to Chispa Project and send to 10556 Combie Rd. Suite 6643 Auburn, CA 95602. Comments received at same address or by email [email protected] or at (843) 608-9715.