Last night was our final stated before going dark for the winter and a EA Degree for three new brothers. We hope you enjoy the pictures. Remember you can click on a picture to view it full size
In my lasts two posts I discussed my work and practice in the Fraternity since joining. In this last short post, I wanted to share some of my thoughts and hopes going forward. You might not know this but there are many opportunities to participate in Masonry beyond your lodge. However, you must be careful with how many commitments you take on and manage your time. As an engineer, I can usually find gems of wisdom in the popular TV and Movie Series Star Trek. For example, here is a conversation between two chief engineers, Scotty and La Forge, that speaks to time commitments:
Lt. Commander La Forge: Yeah, well, I told the Captain I’d have this analysis done in an hour.
Scotty: How long will it really take?
La Forge: An hour!
Scotty: Oh, you didn’t tell him how long it would really take, did ya?
La Forge: Well, of course I did.
Scotty: Oh, laddie. You’ve got a lot to learn if you want people to think of you as a miracle worker.
In this conversation is a helpful rule of thumb; if you commit yourself to do something you must do it, do your best to be on time for any commitments, and it is always better to be seen as a miracle worker versus a person that is late or fails to perform up to commitments that they take on. Scotty’s message is to give yourself some time for the inevitable life happenings that may impact your plans.
As for myself, in my first very active year, I have taken this to heart. While I try to help and offer myself, my time, and my abilities to my Lodge, I take the commitment very serious and I want to be successful, not just for myself or personal pride, but for the lodge and the fraternity. I have taken several rolls onto myself with my Blue Lodge:
- I create, maintain, and upgrade the Lodge web presence, including but not limited to; Blogs, Website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, WordPress.
- I have had the privilege to stand in as Chaplain
- I have had the privilege to stand in as a Steward
- I have tried to help in degree practices as needed
- I even offered to be Secretary when one was needed, given my experience in life running several companies, I thought I could help, My W.M. Informed me that I was not qualified and not a Mason for a sufficient period – but I tried!
Beyond my Lodge, I have become a member of the Scottish Rite, an Appendant body of the Masons, in the Valley of Concord, NH. I have completed a set of degrees including the 32nd Degree http://www.nh32degreemason.org/ . I have found myself volunteering again with the Scottish Rite, where I have volunteered to be an editor of the Valley of Concord Newsletter, and I agreed to take a part in what is known as the 14th Degree. It is a different responsibility. When you take a part in the line or chairs you are committing that you have the time to take learn and perform the role as once accepted the fraternity is counting on you. Life gets busy as does work and family, but if you make the commitment to learn and do a task for your lodge or the Rite you must follow through and after some conversation with my family I accepted the commitment.
What is perhaps most exciting to me can be expressed by the Scottish Rite Passport. When you become a member, you receive a passport book with Pages describing each degree. When completing a degree, you get a stamp – like a passport stamp! This made me think of my US Passport. I added pages twice and have many pages and many stamps, they are emblematic of my travel and my collected experience, understanding, and new friends on six of the seven continents. I do have friends that go to the seventh (Antarctica), but none of them live there! One may view the Scottish Rite Passport in the same way. As you go through degrees you learn some things, you reinforce the fraternity’s values and you make friends. I look forward to travelling all over the USA to experience all of the degrees. I look forward to meeting new friends and reconnecting with other brothers along the way.
As in any other organization, this fellowship requires work- but do not worry – the oaths and obligations that you will take upon yourself do provide guidance on getting along with other brothers, and truly accepting people who you might not know outside of the lodge. If you can live up to those principals, you will do just fine with any Mason that you meet. At the very least, you are living up to your oath and obligations.
There is a huge benefit as well, in that the discipline that I believe is required for managing your commitments as a Mason can help you in other areas of your life. As an example, I will share a story. As an engineer I have come up with many processes. One process, that I’ve used professionally, for all of my teams, has been specifically around managing tasks and the progress towards completion of them. I’ve used status reports to communicate this kind of regular progress. In my experience, it was a good way to manage teams of Scientists, Sales People, Marketing, or any type of person. One day, one of my sales managers came into my office to talk to me. He said “I wanted to thank you.” I responded, “For what?” He then told me that his son had been having problem managing schoolwork and sports and his grades were falling to the point of concern. He said that he implemented the Status report that we used in the company to manage tasks, and it relieved all the pressures for his family and his son improved in both grades and sports.
I share this story because it illustrates for me, how practicing the values of the fraternity has not only improved me not only in the different roles I have performed in lodge, but also it has improved me in my non-related activities. We all can be better; we all have room to improve but sometimes we forget to set goals. The fraternity can help bring focus to what you value and therefore you can adjust your actions to better achieve your goals. And more importantly, you can have some fun and help your community. I look forward to the Continued Fellowship with fellow Masons and to receive more light.
In this, my second post of three, I wanted to share one of my recent personal experiences with Masonry, because it exemplifies to me the culmination of my first few years as a Mason. It was a unique opportunity for me to stand is as the Chaplain for my Lodge, and this brief but important experience in many ways is indicative of my total experience as a Mason up to that day.
In preparing for my role at home, I arranged a bench in the center of the parlor, this was to represent where I would say the prayer. I then sat in the adjoining room to represent where I would be sitting before I would be conducted to the center of the lodge by our Marshall. In practice, I went through the process where my Marshall would accompany me to the center of the lodge. I knelt, and I said the prayer. I repeated this many, many times until I got it right and I felt that I was giving the ceremony justice. Several days earlier, I had asked our lodge’s Chaplain, what he thought I should focus on when saying the prayer. He said do not worry, the most important thing was to be genuine in speaking the words, and then he added “talk slower than usual” – this was a great tip. There were three prayers to learn; the Opening and Closing prayers and a prayer to say before the lodge meal. Along with this there was proper floor work to learn. So I practiced.
When the day came where I would be fulfilling the roll of Chaplain for our lodge I was a bit worried. I believed it was a big responsibility and I wanted to do well. As it happened, I missed the first prayer, the prayer before the meal, because I was out by the grill talking to a friend who was cooking the last few burgers and when we came in people were already eating. So there was no prayer before the meal and for some reason this made me nervous for the opening prayer. But the time came where I had to be conducted to the center of the lodge by the Marshal. I went and said the prayer, and I came back, thanked the Marshall and took my seat again.
For the Lodge’s closing prayer, I was again conducted to the center of the lodge by the Marshall, and this time something different happened; the Marshall took my hand and placed it properly to be conducted, and said discreetly, so that I was the only one who could hear him, that “this is the way to do it just in case you trip or fall”. I then said the closing prayer and my task as a “Stand in Chaplain” was over. This one day said much about my time to date as a Mason and emblematic of my experience so far. The Marshall’s consideration in correcting my error, and quietly showing me the proper way of doing something without calling it out to all the members of the lodge, exemplifies the spirit of Masonry.
In Masonry at times there are lessons, and as I am a firm believer of lifelong learning, I view this as a good thing. A good example is that just to become a Mason there are some lessons to both learn and then demonstrate to your peers to show that you have learned your lesson satisfactorily. And after all of this there are more and more lessons to learn so that you can participate more deeply in the working of the lodge and/or performance of what is known as degrees. This may seem like a daunting task, to have to learn after a long day at work, school, or just taking care of your family – and in some cases it is extra work that you take on without any requirement. However, there is great satisfaction in doing so. One thing I am sure of in my journey as a Mason is that the work has been well worth it. As part of this process, when you demonstrate your knowledge, you don’t want to just demonstrate the lesson but you want to do it well. While not everyone can achieve the same level of learning and or performance there is one thing that is always true, people are not competing against others but rather they are working to improve themselves and everyone else is there to help them achieve that goal. This was true of all the lessons I learned and it was true of me learning the Basic duties of the Chaplain as required for one day – Not only did everyone help me prepare, but they were supportive of me being successful on that day.
At the end of the meeting there is a time where the people that did something for the Lodge are recognized for the bit of extra work, as it is said; “Pay the Craft their Wages, if any be due.” This could be filling in for a position or something similar or extra not normally required. I remember being called out and thanked for sitting in as Chaplain. I gave a proper response and then kind of got lost in a thought. I was being thanked for doing something that required no thanks. By taking part in this Lodge meeting today as Chaplain I did something that was a privilege – not a duty and one where I should give thanks and as I recall I did so. In reality much of the experience you will have as a Mason will be similar. Be it; working on fundraising, helping out on a scholarship committee or repairing a door, it is clear that the work does its part to reinforce the lessons and improve you as an individual if you are open to change. Participation itself can and will give you new insights into yourself and your community.
In closing, I am new to the fraternity and my journey has just begun. In the last three years I have been Initiated, Passed, Raised and am now happy to have received more degrees including, but not limited to the 32nd Degree as a member of the Scottish Rite in the Valley of Concord. While I may be new to the Fraternity it does welcome my ideas and input on all matters. Granted, it is not so important that any or all of my ideas are accepted but they all are heard and welcome. My first few years as a Mason have been enlightening beyond my expectations and the lessons that I learned go beyond the lessons of the degrees but fall more into the practice of; Tolerance, Brotherhood, Acceptance and Charity. Don’t get me wrong there can be and are areas of conflict between members, and there can be passionate discussions on what is next for the Fraternity or Lodge but in these times we tend to seek Harmony in the fraternity versus positions that divide. While I may not be perfect in the execution of these lofty goals, I am improving and it impacts every part of my life in a positive manner – none of these improvements would have been possible to me without the fraternity and my many guides over the last few years.
And now it is time to Pay the Craft their Wages, if any be due: To these people across many lodges in my many stages of development, I would like to extend a simple thanks.
If you cannot make it to Lexington Massachusetts to visit the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library you can view many of the collections online! http://www.srmml.org/
You can download the petition to Become a Mason with Harris Lodge No. 91 as your Lodge or to affiliate with us online: http://harrislodge.com/petitionus.html
Trestleboard, Website Updates, Events, or General news online. Just click on the below link and then complete the subscription form. If you are not a Harris Lodge Member or Affiliate please indicate your lodge name in the Other Field, if not a Mason please select “Web Site Follower, not a Mason”
The Warner Fall Foliage Festival is in full swing. Please feel free to stop by our Lodge and talk to some of our members, get a water and see the inside of our building, all are welcome. Also please do stop by for our Open House next week. http://www.harrislodge.com/open%20house.htm
We hope you have a great time at the WFF – That barbecue behind our lodge looks real good!