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.