This Saturday, I was at St. Johns Lodge in Portsmouth New Hampshire. I was there to receive some Degrees as a member of the Scottish Rite, a Masonic appendant body, including the 18th Degree Knight Rose Croix. The term “appendant body” basically means that to become a member of the Scottish Rite you must first be a Mason. This day made me recall how I first came to be interested in Freemasonry. I thought I would share my personal journey in becoming a Mason on the Website of my Lodge, Harris Lodge No. 91. I think it is best to do this in three blog posts; Becoming a Mason, My First Years as a Mason, and Continuing Fellowship. This is the first post of the three.
Becoming a Mason
It was at one score and sixteen years ago that I had met a Mason for the first time. I don’t remember his name but I do remember when I met him. The year was 1980, I was reading a Physics book at an “Au bon Pain Café” in Harvard Square in Cambridge , Massachusetts. I was a student at the time, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as part of a Science, Technology Education and Math (“STEM”) program for qualified High school students that were invited to attend classes at MIT.
I enjoyed going to Harvard Square before going to class, as it was a “cool” place for a kid from Quincy. In this Café I noticed a man, a Harvard student (obvious by his sweatshirt), he was reading an old and tattered book with a prominent Square and Compasses emblem on the dust jacket. I was a bit curious about the book and in need of a break from my own Physics book – so I asked him, “Excuse me, what is your book about?” He stared at me for a bit and said, “How old are you?” I responded back a little indignant, “16 and soon to be 17,” (The young always want to be older.) He responded that it was a book about Freemasonry. I asked, “Freemasonry?” He responded “Yes.” I then asked “What is Freemasonry?” He responded that it was about a fraternity of men and that I was too young to be a member. He went back to reading and I walked away with many questions unanswered.
That afternoon after class I went directly to the public library when I was back in Quincy and started to read more. I found books on Freemasons, and one Freemason in particular caught my attention, that was Ben Franklin. I was very interested in this because Ben Franklin was a founding father of the United States and a Freemason. More importantly he was a Scientist and I considered myself, even at that time, to be a scientist – or at least I aspired to become one. I read about the many great thinkers that were Freemasons and I got more excited. Then I read somewhere that you had to be 21 to be in the fraternity. I also remembered the Harvard student saying that I was too young so I returned the books to their shelves and went about my life. Over the years I read more about the Masons and of course saw mention of Famous Masons in books. I also saw many Masonic Temples but my interest waned.
Many years later, my interest was renewed by the 2004 movie “National Treasure”, from Disney. This movie was about a treasure hunter seeking a lost treasure that was brought to America around the time of the founding of the country, by the Freemasons that were our Founding Fathers. I started reading again and several years later I found out that I had friends that were Masons. I asked a mutual friend about how to become a Mason, and he was out of state and wrote a message to a lodge in Portsmouth Ma, introducing me, and mentioning that I wanted to join the Masons.
I do not remember the exact year, but I remember the response was something like, “we like to select our own members” or something like that and I let the idea go for a while. It was around 2013, that I noticed a square and compass present on a friend’s; sweatshirt or truck, I do not recall exactly what I saw. I remember saying, “Freemasons, I have always been interested.” I asked many questions and I was then offered by my friend to join by petitioning for membership into the Fraternity and to what would become my Lodge. It was a short process which included meeting other members of the Lodge before officially being accepted to the Fraternity. After that, I began my degree work. There was studying! I have learned that there is always studying and commitment, otherwise known as work, to acquire anything that is worthwhile. Being a Mason is definitely worthwhile.
In my next post I will discuss my first few years as a Mason, the parts of it that are not held as secret, something that I wish the Harvard student had explained to me. I hope to share what I have learned and have gotten from being a Mason and what I perceive the benefits of the Fraternity. I will leave the reader with a few last thoughts; If you want to be a Mason or are curious about Masonry, just ask one and yes there are programs for a 16-year-old, it is DeMolay: https://demolay.org/what-is-demolay/