Norris Burkes

Spirit Matters Columnist

About This Author

Norris Burkes is a syndicated columnist, national speaker and author of the book No Small Miracles. He is a retired chaplain for the Sacramento VA Hospital and the Air National Guard.

Articles by this author

Is It Time?

I’m lucky that my wife, Becky, still laughs at the preposterous proposal I made to another woman 42 years ago.

I begin by explaining how, early in our marriage, we routinely substituted Brand X for the real name of any previous relationship. The nickname came from commercials that promised a certain laundry soap was new and improved and would produce sparkly clean results—far superior to Brand X.

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Shifting In Flight

In a time before COVID, I found myself in a boarding line clinching the coveted A-lister pass issued by Southwest Airlines. The pass granted me privileged first-choice seating while B- and C-listers scrambled for significance.

Inside the plane, a flight attendant cheerfully suggested a front seat. “Wonderful. Looks like I’ll be flying first class.”

I took the aisle seat and soon a woman scooted past into the window seat. After several minutes, the plane took off with no one between us.

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Skip The Wait

Like most of you, I hate to wait in line. Truthfully, much of my 28 years in the Air Force can be summarized with the military oxymoron, “Hurry up and wait.”

My distaste for waiting is placated only when I hear someone pronounce the word “next.”

“Next” becomes my favorite word when it signals that the line in the auto parts store or at airport security is moving forward. It means I will soon command the undivided attention of the clerk or agent.

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Give Until It Hurts

Over the years, people have asked me if I dance. I often reply, “No, I’m a Baptist.”

“What does that have to do with your dancing ability?” they’ll ask.

My answer comes from the lyrics—“Guilty feet have got no rhythm”—from George Michael’s 1984 hit song “Careless Whisper.”

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Have “The Talk”

Just before the quarantine started, my wife Becky and I sat with a lawyer redoing our estate plan.

“I love that word ‘estate,’” I told the lawyer. “It makes me feel like I own the Ponderosa.”

“Well, you don’t,” Becky said, using her no-nonsense teacher tone.

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