"All human beings have a sense of dignity regardless of class, status or title. When our dignity is not acknowledged, feelings are hurt and offense is sometimes taken. This, if left unchecked, can lead to detrimental thoughts and feelings of sadness, anger, spite, grudges, resentment, vengeance, hate and fear. Fear being the root of all these.
"There is no place for any of these in our Temple, therefore in our lives. If these negatives are not allowed in our Temples, then they should consciously not be allowed in our homes, or as a whole, in our minds and hearts. For we are Masons amongst Masons. Love Masonry. Although it is impossible to love every Mason, it is however important to hate none."
Brother B— R—Every Masonic lodge is different. Every single time I visit and sit in a Masonic lodge meeting I learn something new. I never know if it will be a ritual difference, or local custom, or a bit of education from a Brother, or even some new decorative item I've never seen before. It could just be an offhand comment by a Brother that jogs my thinking in some new way.
I visited Spes Novum Lodge U.D. in Libertyville, Illinois on Friday night to speak at their stated meeting and to enjoy their fellowship. Many thanks to WM Scott Dueball and my friend WB Robert Johnson for their kind invitation. Their new lodge has its own differences that give it a unique flavor and personality, with a small, dedicated membership that truly knows and cares for each other. I know in my heart that these small lodges of less than 30 members are the way to our future by following our past.
Almost 20 years ago, I read in early online Masonic chat rooms and BBSs of a practice conducted in European lodges that few in the U.S. followed. They required their Entered Apprentices and Fellow Craft Masons to write down their thoughts about their degrees and to present them in open lodge as part of their proficiency requirements. Some foreign jurisdictions call this "submitting a piece of architecture." The goal is to make a new member reflect on the lessons of each degree in a way that is more meaningful than just memorization of a catechism (which is important, too) before moving on to the next. We brought this up when we wrote Laudable Pursuit as the Knights of the North back in 2003. The Masonic Restoration Foundation also encouraged the practice about the same time.
Well, it's been a while, but the practice is still rare in the U.S., and that's a damned shame.
The quote above is not from some deep thinking, grizzled old Past Master with a PhD in Philosophy. It came from a paper read by a new Fellow Craft at Spes Novum Lodge on Friday night. They were his thoughts on the lessons of the Entered Apprentice degree. For the last fifteen years, I've said to Masonic audiences that you'd be amazed at the way new Masons see this fraternity and the lessons we can learn from them by asking their thoughts after experiencing the degrees for the first time. More of us need to see the fraternity through the eyes of new members, if only to remind us occasionally what we're all supposed to be doing here.
My own jurisdiction forbids me from publicly naming a Brother until he is a Master Mason, so for the time being I will merely identify him as Brother B.R. He knows who he is, and so do the Brethren in lodge Friday night.
I thank him for reminding all of us what come we here to do. All over again.