A Just and Upright Mason

by Senior Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott

                                       

I was in shock when I received the news that John Jones had passed away because of being involved in an auto accident. His wife Shirley Jones was seriously injured, and friend and passenger Kristine Trudeau also perished in the accident.

I first met John when I became a member of York Rite. John was especially active in the York Rite and his performance as the Prelate in the Order of the Temple Knight Templar degree was nothing short of spectacular. His clear pronunciation of the ritual provided extra meaning for not only the candidate, but those of us who were listening and participating in the degree.

But more importantly John was simply a spectacular human being. He always had something positive to say to you in conversation and somehow, I always felt better after having these talks. His genuine caring attitude for others was so evident in how he lived his life.

Brother Michael J. Dooley wrote about John on Facebook and I share part of Mike’s words with you here as they seem so appropriate:

” I just saw him (John) a week ago Sunday with his wife at a lunch I attended. What I didn't know then is that was the last time I would visit with him and he'd be gone in less than a week. We talked about many things, the holiday, things of mutual interest, good fellowship and seeing each other later on today at a scheduled meeting. People we know become so integrated into our lives and daily planning at one level or another...never consciously giving a thought they could be gone in the blink of an eye. We're not geared to think that way I guess. When you try to sort through the stark news...it becomes more apparent, more real over time as it becomes the reality and from little things you wouldn't expect. Looked at my calendar just a while ago and saw the notation I made to call him later today...fully expecting to do so. I want all here in my friends group to know I appreciate you. I try to be cordial to those I know frequently and with sincerity. I would also say if you haven't talked to someone in a while you're thinking of, family or friends ...do so. If you've had a falling out with someone or misunderstanding...try to resolve it. If you've been estranged from others...try to reconnect. Friends are special and those relationships with others are gifts...each in their own way. Be thankful for them. “

I am thankful for having the opportunity to have gotten to know John Jones. I won’t soon forget him or the impact he made on Freemasonry and myself.

Please keep John’s wife Shirley in your thoughts and prayers. Take Mike’s advice to heart and reach out to a friend or family you haven’t spoken to in while.

A line in the masonic ritual says, “He will be proud to pronounce him a just and upright mason”. John Jones was a just and upright Mason.

~GJK

WB Gregory J. Knott is the Worshipful Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 in Ogden (IL) and a plural member of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 (IL), Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, DC.

Sorry, You're Wrong. We're Not Dying...

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson 



With the recent publication of several articles, the Masonic presence on the web has caught fire...again. In any particular calendar year there are, without exception, several happenings within the Masonic world which rock the boat, so to say. Sometimes it’s ragging on the dress and formal attire: ”It’s the internal, not the external!” some shout. Other times someone will make Masonic minds seemingly explode by putting up images or articles showing women in full regalia, operating in their own Masonic lodges. “They’re not real Masons!” the masses scream. Still yet, there are a multitude of of other controversial topics that plague us, but none more perhaps, than that of this fraternity dying off. Whether due to our own greed, a misappropriation of members, religious fundamentalism or racism--the list goes on.

When I originally wrote this paper, it was 2016 and much had been written about our fraternity and its future. Data had been analyzed, surveys completed and more data compiled. After this last month’s rush of articles, I thought how interesting it is that when we decide to do the work of Freemasonry, to study, to contemplate, reflect and then sometimes write about it, we get only a few hits. Posts like how to critically evaluate ritual, or perhaps this piece on the symbolic interpretations of Solomon’s Temple just don’t get the traffic. Write about the death of Masonry and throw a catchy title on it and: STOP. THE. PRESS. Instant viral Masonic post. Does this confirm that Masonry is already dead in the hearts of those commenting on social media about it? Or rather, is it fair to say that if the only Masonic articles that gain traction are the kinds that speak about Masonry rather than those that are Masonry, that it is in fact dead?

The articles I’m referring to will be shared thousands of times, seldom read, and the “conversation” (I’m being polite about what I will call the dribble bantered about below said posts.) that has formed in the comments becomes inflammatory, and tends to divide Masons into fence sitters, spiritualists and ritual vultures.

The articles are good reading, but if you’re strapped for time, here are some brief words on the two articles I want to address. Here’s the TL;DR (too long didn’t read):

Is Freemasonry Doomed to Fail? - Posted to (https://masonicimprovement.wordpress.com/) on December 2nd 2018

This article by Brother Justin Jones addresses the data compiling and analyzation done by Brother Lance Kennedy. Lance’s data is spot on and is showing us the absolute and unavoidable declination of our membership numbers. While Brother Kennedy’s work is “not flawless” it is solid and even I agree with them. However what was this blog post about? Well, it’s basically saying what I said here (below) in 2016. His conclusion is essentially that we will reach equilibrium. I highly recommend reading this article. It isn’t too long and his thoughts are concise. I tip my hat to brother Justin Jones for his post.

Freemasonry is Dying - Posted to (http://freemasoninformation.com/amp/) on or around November 29th, 2018

Perhaps this one is one of the most inflammatory, at least at first due to the title alone. This is the post that essentially caused Brother Justin Jones, author of the previous article, to put finger to keyboard. A direct quote and complete summary of the piece is found right at the top of the paper:

Once you can get yourself to accept the fact that Freemasonry is dying, then perhaps some progress can be made in downsizing, consolidating, making Appendant Bodies stand on their own, raising dues significantly and other acts of resuscitation. Terminally ill patients require drastic and sometimes untried measures to save them.

What follows are several paragraphs explaining the data and its trend of declination. I’ll tell you, it’s pretty solid. I’m an analyst by trade and I won’t argue with these numbers. I once again will tip my hat to Brother Kennedy for his work in charting a path to our inevitable downfall. But wait! There’s more!

Theologians and professionals within the scientific community have argued incessantly for all time regarding what “truth” is and how it should be discerned. Objective and subjective opinions, exegetical and hermeneutical debates on all things, not just religion and its books. We see these debates about the truth of matters raised in philosophical discussions, whether something is prima facie or absolute. We see it in discussions in the medical field, about law, you name it...we’re debating it.

Freemasonry is always in the eye of the beholder. We love being subjective...to a fault. For even when we are given data and facts, we toss them aside as if they don’t matter because what we built and the perpetuation of its ideals as understood en masse, is sacrosanct. Examples of this are rampant. One example, the Forget Me Not. That story is total bupkis. We know the facts are out there. Yet we keep on printing the anecdote on little cards and packaging them with the pins that we buy up every year. How quaint, how romantic. We don’t care that it’s factually incorrect. Read about it here.

A most recent and prime example is the research regarding our crafts founding by Andrew Prescott and Susan Sommers. In their research they confirm that our founding as an official organization was not in 1717, but rather in 1721. What did the Masonic scholars and members do? We screamed, “Who cares! It’s the spirit of it all….blah blah blah…” An effective solution for the majority of our membership. Not so much for those of us who are academically inclined.

The truth as we should all agree, is that in the world, as science and religion are interdependent on each other, so are objective and subjective opinions. That is, the outside and the inside must come together to bring us the facts. In the question then, “Is Freemasonry Dying?”, we see a dilemma. We cannot answer this question because there is a need to separate two ideas, which is likely not readily apparent to most.

We need to first ask what Freemasonry is. And the answer is that we are two things or ideas. Freemasonry is the organization which is beholden to a Grand Lodge, who derives its power and its existence from its contingency. That is, they don’t exist unless, or can’t financially exist unless they have/make money. The second thing Freemasonry is, and it's the more important thing, is that it is a philosophy, a school of wisdom.

So, now that I’ve said my piece on the aforementioned articles, this is my take on the situation. My subjective look as a Mason and my objective look as someone who isn’t so invested in the idea that I’ve lost my individuality.

I've been researching Freemasonry for about thirteen years now and there seems to be no shortage of information, ideas and general complaining about our membership numbers. That is, the number of Freemasons in the United States and it's decline over time. The obsession over these membership numbers has been covered ad nauseam. Especially recently.

Fixing things has long been the goal. Above I mentioned that Freemasonry is two things. The former of the two ideas, that it is Grand Lodge is in most ways, seen as the more important. From a Grand Lodge Officer, “These men don’t realize that if the Grand Lodge dies, they aren’t masons anymore. They’ll be clandestine.” This notion is FALSE. This mindset is wholly predicated on fixing the “membership problem”. Meanwhile, I'm not sure that we need to fix anything. It seems as though Freemasonry is correcting itself in that we are reverting to the small, refined group we once were, composed of knowledgeable, carefully selected and true brothers.

When I ran "surveys galore" as expressed by a post on "Blinded by the Light", it was interesting to see the take on it [my piece] and Jon Ruark's (see video link below) research into our decline. The aforementioned blog is stating the elephant in the room is that the Grand Lodge system itself is to blame for the downfall of membership. And in part it's true, but perhaps not why you think.

I think I am going to say something here which not many people, possibly no one has said quite this way before: We aren't losing members and we aren't dying and we aren't going anywhere. Your respective Grand Lodge on the other hand, may be.

Let me explain. In 1924 the Masonic Services Association started keeping track of the number of Freemasons in the United States. This number was based on regular lodges under the respective Grand Lodge system of that state. You can look at those numbers by clicking HERE.

Notice the rapid rise and the steep decline. At a point we had almost 6 million members, now we only have about 1.2 million according to 2014. It’s almost 2019 and the numbers reported by MSA for 2017 are in. We have a little less than 1.1 million masons in the United States. Grand lodges are consistently pushing membership drives and one-day conferrals, amendments to the way Freemasons progress through the degrees and much more. But none of it is helping.

Bro. Jon Ruark of the Masonic Roundtable did an excellent presentation this last year about membership numbers, which I mentioned above. You can watch it HERE. In short, Non Payment of Dues, suspensions and deaths are the culprit of dropping membership, coupled with the fact that not as many men are joining. But this is OKAY!

According to recent Pew poll the percentage of Americans who have a belief in a supreme being is decreasing. The target audience for Masonry is dwindling. Read about it HERE. After all this though, consider these statements:

  • At Masonry's peak, from an educational standpoint (1900) Freemasonry was small. 
  • The influx of men into the Fraternity during the 50s and 60s was an anomaly.
  • The craft built an empire based on an influx of men and treated that high number as the new normal, which for whatever reason they still measure us against today. This is WRONG!
  • Now that we are returning to normal numbers, the craft is trying to figure out ways to sustain the top heavy elements we built. I say, let them die. 

What I'm saying Brothers, is that the membership drives are here in order to sustain what was erroneously built-- based on a false presumption about what Masonic membership numbers would be in the future. We are returning to the smaller group we once were, and that's okay. In fact, it’s healthier, and all around better. Why is smaller better? A prominent Mason, who holds a doctorate and who has written some amazing texts once told me and a group of Brothers, “It’s hard to care about Brother John Smith, if you’ve never met John Smith.” The context of this quote comes from a conversation we we’re having about the value of knowing all of your members. The exemplification of crying with, or laughing with our Brothers. Truly knowing them personally, like best friends.

The prominent Brother continued, “We’re working pretty hard at making *Redacted* lodge smaller.” That really hit home with the one-hundred or so brothers in the room. The fact is, we cannot, no matter our intent or how hard we work, maintain this level of knowing, caring and being truly invested in our fellow Brothers when our numbers are sky high. Twenty to thirty men is truly optimal.

Think about the benefit of having this small number when we need to call everyone. Or even text. Yes, there are robo-dialers, but nothing beats a real call or a genuine text. Not to just announce to the recipient that a degree or a stated meeting is happening, but to say, hello and actually inquire as to how they’re doing. In an age where we are only just now admitting to ourselves that we lie to each other all the time about our feelings, we dare to be different. We dare to ask, “How are you?” and what’s different is that the Brother might unload their baggage rather than saying, “Fine”. And to top it off, we can care. We can be there. The small numbers and intimate meeting spaces do wonders for enabling the Brotherhood we are charged to exemplify.

If Brotherhood isn’t enough for you to get excited about, think about the amount of administrative work it takes to manage three-hundred men. Now make it thirty. A big difference. So significant in fact, that our secretaries will actually care enough to reach out to those members individually.

All this makes lodges stronger, better, and more efficient. The bonds become so tight that there is no distinction between our Fraternity Brothers and our blood brothers. In many cases, we’re even closer.

When I asked for a peer review of this piece, my Brother said "I'm left asking myself, what do I do with this information?" I'm not sure you can do anything with this information other than let it give you comfort. Comfort in knowing things are just fine. We are returning to our original purpose, our original aim.

The Masonic "Utopia"? - If we look at the number of actual members who are active (about 5%), and we divided them into about 2000 lodges around the United States, we'd have about 30 members per lodge. Is that so bad? The question is left on how to facilitate those lodges in that kind of a system. A few ideas, abolish progressive lines, get rid of all appendant bodies with the exception of the York and Scottish Rite and move business meetings to a quarterly basis. Masonic education can take its rightful place within the craft once more.

One of the most insightful replies to the question we’ve been talking about, I saved for the end of this paper. Brother R.H. said, “Freemasonry isn't dying. The huge influx of members during the post war years is the metric by which too many Brothers want to use for membership norms today. Masonry has usually been the province of the few who chose to seek light as opposed to the masses who joined during that period, looking for little more than a social club. Realistically, all the inactive brothers should be an indication of where our numbers should be and where they should have been all along. Our Fraternity is doing fine, just regaining its equilibrium.

In conclusion, think about all the successful degrees and new brothers coming in. Think about how serious some of us are. For those who say Freemasonry is dead right now, I ask you, “Are you a Freemason? Are you dead?” And I’ll follow that up with this, If you think Freemasonry will be dead in twenty or thirty years, Will you be here in thirty years? If the answer is yes, then Freemasonry will again, not be dead. It’s only dead to those who predicate success in numbers, who place the ideals of Freemasonry into the pocket of a Grand Lodge. Realize that Masonry doesn’t die because per capita is low, or that dues are too low or that Grand lodge can’t keep it in the black. It’s an ever living philosophy. As long as we’re alive and live it, it will be alive. I don’t mean that in just a philosophical way. I mean it literally. Lodges wouldn’t just fold. They'd refine and regather. If you think otherwise, turn in your dues card right now, because you’ve already rolled over. Go find another organization. If I’ve inspired you here, good. The next time someone says "Masonry is dying.", make sure you tell them, "We're not dying, we're refining."

~RHJ

RWB, Robert Johnson is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. He currently serves as the Secretary of Spes Novum Lodge No. 1183 UD. He is a Past Master of Waukegan Lodge 78 and a Past District Deputy Grand Master for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? & Masonic Radio Theatre which focus on topics relating to Freemasonry. He is also a co-host of The Masonic Roundtable, a Masonic talk show. He is a husband and father of four, works full time in the executive medical industry. He is the co-author of "It's Business Time - Adapting a Corporate Path for Freemasonry" and is currently working on a book of Masonic essays and one on Occult Anatomy to be released soon.

Where Ever You Go, There You Are

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. Evve Kuykendall 



A few months ago and at the time of this writing, two well known celebrities had taken their own lives. Kate Spade, a well known fashion designer and Anthony Bourdain, a celebrated chef and television host, both died by all available accounts, at their own hands. For most, the depths of despair they felt as a result of their depression is unfathomable. They were, by almost any standard, successful, having fame, money, and strong carriers that have influenced millions of people worldwide.

And yet, they differed enough to resort to suicide. Why couldn’t they see everything they had to live for and all the good things in their lives? Why couldn’t they just “snap our of it” by practicing an “attitude of gratitude”? I mean, they had everything, right? Money? Check. Fame? Check. They had friends and family…why couldn’t they just get over it, especially for those they loved? They had the ability to travel anywhere and do anything…why didn’t they just take some time off to get happy?

Most of the those things had been posted on social media by people who were hurt or confused by their deaths.

What is that old saying?…”Where ever you go, there you are.”

As a younger man, I never really understood that saying. As far as tautologies go, that one really never landed for me. Until it did.

When I left active duty Air Force, I started dealing with a deep depression coupled with suicidal thoughts. I didn’t really know why nor did I have any real coping mechanisms with which to handle it. I started pushing people away and didn’t want to see my friends because I felt even more alone and depressed when I was around them and other people. I could be in a room surrounded by people and feel completely alone. It took an incredible amount of psychological energy to be social, even for short periods. So, I stayed home alone. A LOT. My friends eventually stopped calling and inviting me to go places.

I blamed it it on my having gone back to school full time and of course working full time in order to pay my bills. I was exhausted and just needed sleep.

After I graduated and started my new career, I expected things to change and to have the energy to be social and reconnect with all my old friends—but they didn’t. I was starting a new job so I blamed the depression on the stress of financial insecurity and the loneliness. I blamed my friends for abandoning me when I needed them during school. In retrospect, that wasn’t the case at all.

I worked hard and after some time, received a job offer in another city and state and thought to myself, “Here is my chance for a clean break to start over in a place where I can be anyone I want to be!” So I loved.

Where ever you go, there you are.

The depression and suicidal thoughts followed me, which surprised me. I thought it was because my friends had abandoned me and the city I used to live in was lame. My job had me traveling 20-25 days a month, so once again, I blamed it on the long hours, jet lag, and loneliness.

A call came in that I would be moving again to an even more desirable city, at least socially speaking. I jumped at the chance for another change to move back to my home state of Texas, where I knew people and might have a leg up meeting people. I mean, there has to be a place meant for everyone, right? So, I moved again.

Where ever you go, there you are.

The travel stayed the same, but I was determined to be a happier person; to find fulfillment in my personal time and maybe even find someone special. So, I took some chances socially, connected with someone and started dating. It was slow going and we dated for almost a year before it was time to make the next step.

We moved in together and I started a business with the hopes that we would eventually run the business together. I thought I had finally overcome to darkness from which I had run so far. But the shadow was still there…and that someone special didn’t understand why I was angry and moody and sleepy, and didn’t want to be social. Predictably, everything fell apart. As a result, all that darkness that I thought had gone away or that I had locked away hadn’t gone away at all. It was just behind the door that had been thrown open with my breakup for me to deal with, all at once.

One night soon afterwards, I was texting with an old friend. I mentioned how bad things were going and that I only had one reason for not killing myself: my mother. I couldn’t stand the idea of knowing that I had hurt her with my actions, but that after she passed, I would have nothing tethering me to life. His response sticks with me to this day.

“You need to get help. Fast.”

I realized I had been too honest with him. He just didn’t get it. Doesn’t everyone feel like this from time to time? Isn’t depression normal? But, he got me thinking.

So, I decided that I since I was due for my annual checkup anyway, when I went to the doctor in a few days, I would bring this up to him and put it all behind me. He was going to tell me it was normal and that I just needed some sleep or to take some vitamins or prescribe me something that would turn me into a walking zombie.

I went to my doctor and as his assistant prepped me for the doctor, she peppered me with some questions. I told her that I had been feeling…depressed. She asked if I was having any suicidal thoughts.

“Well, yes,” I explained, “I think about killing myself all the time, but not in one of those ‘I’m gonna actually do it’ kind of ways. It’s more of a comforting, ‘I’m just thinking about it’ kind of ways.” As I heard myself saying it, I realized how crazy it sounded. And so did she.

I came to find out that I have post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Its symptoms include social anxiety, depression, mood swings, suicidal thoughts…everything I had been dealing with for a decade or longer.

My doctor said, that along with treatment, I needed to begin working on myself. I needed to do things that I found enjoyable and helped me get out of my anxiety and depression. I had to find a way to start enjoying life again.

It had been so long since I had even considered life as something to be enjoyed. One would think such a task would be easy, but nothing was farther from the truth. I had difficulty finding anything that made me want to get out of bed, much less enjoy life again.

Across the street from where I worked was a Masonic Temple. "Wasn’t there a time when I was in the military that I had wanted to check them out or heard something good about those guys?"  I could check them out now. I worked across the street, for crying out loud. I have no excuse. And if they are weird or if it's some kind of cult, I could just say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” There was a possibility I might not even be invited to join the group. So I emailed the lodge secretary and made a subtle inquiry. I was told to come to fellowship night before the next stated meeting.

The night came and I was terrified. I. Was. Terrified. The anxiety of PTSD almost stopped me from walking across the street, but I was determined to stop letting this illness rule my life. So, I got up and walked across the street into a room full of strangers. Now, looking back, Freemasonry, the fraternity I love so much, was (and remains) part of my treatment.

So, I understand better than most what Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain were dealing with.

Where ever you go, there you are.

Depression is a part of you that cannot be escaped with vacations or fancy clothing, or great food, or friends. It isn’t a switch that can be turned off. It follows you everywhere you go, it influences every conversation and thought you have. It hides for periods of times, then re-emerges in different clothing, but it is the same old depression. It isn’t sadness. It is an emptiness—for me it is in my abdomen—a void that cannot be filled by food or alcohol or material stuff. It consumes everything good in your life and convinces your mind that you are alone and would be better off dead.

So, where ever you are, your depression is there, too, inevitably making it feel like everything would be better if it just…stopped

This is the first time I have ever spoken to anyone but family and close friends about my PTSD or my ongoing battle with it. I do so to implore our brethren to look out for one another. Look past the smiles and handshakes and self-deprecating jokes. There are brothers among us dealing with exactly what I am dealing with, some more successfully than others.

It was my brethren that have kept me here, even when they didn’t know it.

For those brother who are suffering, thinking there is no where to turn and no one that cares…there is hope and help, even when that voice is telling you that you are alone. You are loved. You are valued. You are a brother.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline  1-800-273-8255

~EK

Bro. Evve Kuykendall is a Master Mason from St. Johns #51 in McKinney Texas.
He currently resides in Fort Worth, Texas and is a Veteran of the United States Air Force (1999-2005)—Air Traffic Control Specialist. He can be reached at evve.kuykendall@gmail.com


My Masonic Journey

A discussion on Friendship, Morality, and Brotherly Love

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Michael Arce


The first look of your Lodge’s trestleboard is like the predicting your favorite NFL Team’s schedule; there are apparent W’s and L’s for the year. Wins: meetings with engaging programs, guest speakers, the official DDGM Visit, and degree nights. Losses: business meetings. Sometimes a discussion can be a toss-up. Especially when the program for the evening is dependent on participation, that's when well-intended “discussions” can suffer a painful death. Brothers can choose not to speak, go off topic, or worse, overshare personal information that turns the meeting into a yawner. But there are those rare discussions that silence a room with focus and personal introspection. Our meeting was during the week of Thanksgiving, timely for Jason Chaplin, Worshipful Master of Mt. Zion #311, to read “George Washington’s 1789 Proclamation”, written by Midnight Freemasons Senior Contributor WB Gregory Knott. I enjoyed learning that it as Washington’s first official Presidential Proclamation, the first of a new nation, he formally established, “a day of thanksgiving and prayer” on Thursday, November 26, 1789. Lost for 130 years, when you read the words of Washington, you can trace its origins to our Masonic ritual and prayers. After Washington’s words, the Master then turned to his trestleboard, a discussion on “My Masonic Journey,” an idea inspired by Bro. Christopher L. Hodapp's blog. The Master began by sharing his journey to and through Freemasonry. He then asked that each Brother share as much or as little as they like. As the Master posted later on Facebook, “The program turned out to be exceptional. There were even a few tears.”

Exceeding Expectations


I followed the Brother who was moved to tears as he shared his story. VW Wesley Hall is a fourth-generation Freemason, tracing back to Vermont Lodge #18 in Windsor, Vermont. Wes, wears a ring that dates back to the turn of the century, passed down from his great, great-grandfather. He shared the pride he has in continuing his family's tradition and his hope for future generations to join the fraternity. What moved Bro. Hall was when he spoke of the Brothers he had raised as Master or those whose degrees he had participated in. How he thought of the Lodge more like a family, one that not only shared a desire to learn Masonic lessons of improvement but also cared for each other, outside of the Lodge room. I'm usually not one to have a hard time finding my words when speaking but I was utterly befuddled as Bro. Hall sat down. I'm the first Mason in my family. I knew very little about Masonry before I joined. My best friend in college and best man at my wedding became a Mason years after I started my family. He told me that I would love Freemasonry, based on my interest in American History. Matter of fact, I learned more about it from friends who asked questions or shared their thoughts on Masonry after my first Lodge visit. I petitioned my mother lodge while going through my divorce and finishing my Bachelor's degree. I thought Freemasonry would be a healthy distraction, a place to meet men with like-minded values, and "make myself better," although at the time I petitioned a lodge, I understood very little about what that meant. I finished my part with the revelation that what I thought I would get from Freemasonry is much different than what was expected. That was a common theme with what the other Brothers shared that evening. Who could have never imagined learning so much from studying the degree work to be proficient -- not just memorizing parts but the knowledge that comes from reading, researching, and value of what those words mean? There is a network of Brothers we instantly have a connection. I shared how when I boarded a flight home from Las Vegas in September, I spotted a Brother wearing a Chicago Bears jersey, with a Masonic pendant on his necklace. I reached out to wish him a safe flight as I passed his seat. My girlfriend asked with surprise, "Do you know that man?" Another Brother spoke of the meaningful relationships we make with Brother outside of our jurisdiction or area of the country --- this after being reluctant at first to visit Lodges in our district.

Reaching To The Farthest Points of Light


Oddly enough, the only time I have the "What you get out of Freemasonry" talk is with gentlemen interested in joining a Lodge. I always smile when we get to this part of our conversation, as it is my favorite part, sharing the "secret" of Freemasonry. I love the look on their face when they hear how Masons are not valued for who we are but for what we do. We reach across barriers of division: creed, color, economic status, politics, and religion --- differences that often divide men, but as Masons, unite us to work together as one. As the Brothers spoke during the meeting, you heard how each was drawn to Masonry, from diverse backgrounds, perspectives on life, and with different expectations on what they would learn. I highly encourage Master's reading this article to consider adding this discussion to an upcoming open meeting program or future trestleboard opportunity. “The discussion was designed for each of Brother to share their individual Masonic journey,” stated WM Chaplin. “By the end, the lesson was how we have influenced each other. “

 ~M

Brother Michael Arce is the Junior Warden of St. George’s #6, Schenectady and a member of Mt. Zion #311, Troy New York. When not in Lodge, Bro. Arce is the Marketing Manager for Capital Cardiology Associates in Albany, New York. He enjoys meeting new Brothers and hearing how the Craft has enriched their lives. He can be reached at: michael.arce@me.com