Aloha Friday – Spetember 30, 2005 – Burned!


Well, it’s Aloha Friday again. I like Fridays because they’re more laid-back (because we choose to see it that way) and people are generally in a good mood (well, with an occasional exception). People dress more casually (or fancier), and life just seems good. I can look forward to spending more time with my honey, Crucita. I might get a chance to work on my music. I can be a bum. Only think I don’t like about the weekends is that I’m not as accessible to my friends and colleagues at work. Oh, stop now! I don’t want to be caught up in the hassle of the screw-ups and scrambles. I just like being around all of you, yes, all. But especially you of course.

I thought I’d share another story with you. Well, actually, another poem. It’s based on an episode at Bible Camp when I was about 11 (1957). The ‘theme’ for that camping adventure was “Full-Time Christian Service.” The idea was that no matter what you did with your life, you could live your life as a witness to Jesus. You didn’t have to be a missionary, just an example.

It’s everyone’s responsibility to evangelize, but not everyone is called to be an evangelist. That’s a pretty special job. I though that was my calling for quite a while. My Jr and Sr year in high school, I pretty much felt I was going to grow up to be a minister and pastor a church somewhere. I entered college as “pre-sem” planning on going to seminary as soon as I could. I enrolled in a parochial college operated by The Reformed Church in America – the Dutch side of Calvinism – and got seriously into Bible study. And that was pretty serious, because I was already pretty serious. Always had/have been. When I was about 5 or 6 I got tapped to tell the story of Jonah and the Whale in front of the WHOLE CONGREGATION at the Vacation Bible School closing program. I choked. Barely whispered the story. I was petrified. You know, I am ACTUALLY and INTROVERT, and being in front of the public takes my breath away and makes me shaky. Yes, really. Sometimes I even have nosebleeds!

So, anyway, back to the camp. We were going to have a special bonfire at the end of camp. There were two things we were going to do. We were going to spend part of the last afternoon of camp gathering little sticks and branches in a small bundle. We tied the bundle together, and we were going to cast that into the bonfire on the final night. The final-night bonfires were always super-special. Lots of spirited singing, wonderful fellowship with the campers and counselors, a stirring message, and a call to commitment. The little bundle represented the things in life we wanted to do away with – our sins and weaknesses. There was also the opportunity to write your name on a paper and drop it in a box signifying you wanted to commit to Full-Time Christian Service.

This poem describes that night. When I have read it in the past, it’s not unusual for someone to be sort of ‘shocked’ by the line “For Christ’s sake, why?” Well, now you might be able to make sense of that and what surrounds it as well.

Welcome home

I thought I felt you touch me.
It may have been my mistake,
or my desire, one.

No. I am sure now.
You did touch me,
but only with a glance.

It was outside
the campfire circle
a long time ago.

I burned myself that night
and you didn’t laugh.
You were the only one.

For Christ’s sake, why?

I didn’t even know you then.
Only your name and
where you lived.

And now you want to live here
just because you touched me?
All right then. Welcome home.

We planned all this
‘way back when, but still,
that was a long time ago.

I think I remember putting my name in the box. I know it was the intention of my heart to do so, but I cannot remember if I had a paper and pencil and was able to write CHUCK TODD on the little square. I remember the bundle of sticks, though. It was pretty liberating for an 11 year old kid who was shy, modest, and kind of an amalgam of bully, pansy, and geek. I ran the neighborhood gang of kids in persecuting my next-door-neighbor Merritt Henman. We were merciless, and when I got older I finally went back to The Old Neighborhood and apologized to him and his mom. I was a cry-baby asthmatic who woke up in the hospital several times housed in an oxygen tent, was terrified of water – asthma attacks and drowning were roughly equivalent to me: You can’t breathe. And I was already a scientist. I was fascinated with Dinosaurs, atomic energy, and chemistry. I had my own microscope, chemistry set, and had already presented a report on Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, built a model reactor, and was in the Science Club at school. I had LOTS of time to read and fantasize about spectacular success as a scientist. And I was miserable, angry, all kinds of shook up. That’s the part that went into the fire that night. That’s another whole story though, and I’ve digressed too far and too long.

The last stanza there alludes to the whole idea that God knew all along He and I wanted each other since the beginning of creation. Sometimes, like that night at the campfire, I feel just inches away from him. Other times the distance separating us is incomprehensible. Mot of the time, though, I know Him best in the love I share with my family and friends – yep those are definitely two distinct and separate groups.

Gee! We (especially me) better get back to work. I know you might not feel like writing stories from your past, but I deeply hope you will feel like sharing them in SOME way. Another of the things I want to show you is the 7 R’s. I think you will find that useful. I hope so.


See you in the moon!

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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