The Circle of Life and Learning

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Hosler, PM



I visited you today. Seeing you lying there it appeared like you were sleeping, like so many times I visited your house and you had fell asleep on the couch to the television show you were watching. The white lambskin apron around your waist and the sprig of acacia in your hand jolted me back to reality.

While I stood there looking at you I realized u my life would be different now. No more would I walk into the lodge room and see your smiling face and feel the clasp of your hand in mine. No more would I hear you say “Good evening Brother”, with a cheerfulness that made even the most boring Masonic meeting seem worthwhile.

Sitting with you on my back porch on a beautiful summer evening. Puffing cigars and watching the puffs of smoke dancing with the lightening bugs. Discussing the esoteric symbolism of a Masonic degree to the sounds of crickets and the tinkling of the ice cubes as it mixes with the scotch in our glasses. These things would be no more. I keep thinking you now know the answers to all those mysterious questions we posed. In a way I envy you, that the hoodwink of the world has been removed from your eyes.

You were my rock when I was an officer of the lodge. Your advice and constant encouragement not only kept me from quitting when times got difficult but you gave me the confidence to carry on. I couldn’t have done it without your guidance and encouragement.

I imagine there will be several times a day I'll pick up my phone to call you to arrange for a lunch date and run lines for an upcoming degree. I’m sure every time I realize that you won’t be answering, I'll begin to grieve your loss all over again, slowly putting my phone down.

For so many years you have been there for me. From the night I was raised to the Sublime degree, to being one of my groomsmen on my wedding day. I remember the smile on your face as I handed you a cigar in the waiting room of the hospital the night my kids were born. You were not just my Masonic brother you were part of my family.

You weren't just there for me in the good times. You held me as tears fell down my cheeks when my parents passed away. You seemed to know just the right thing to say to comfort me. I also remember the time when you showed up on my doorstep with groceries and Christmas presents when times were tough. You were always there, good times and bad. No matter how I tried you wouldn’t let me pay you back. “That’s what Brothers are for!”, you would say. “If you want to pay me back, extend a charitable hand to another Brother in need someday.” I never forgot that and you taught me a great lesson.

You have been a part of me and my family for most of my adult life. You have taught me so much. Not just how to be a good Mason, but how to be a good husband, father and most of all, to be a good man. I realize I never truly got to thank you for all the good you have done for me and all you have taught me.

As our last visit is now over and I take my place with five other Brethren to carry you to your final resting place I am having trouble holding my tears. So many memories of you continue to flash through my mind, like a movie on a loop.

I realize now as we slowly walk to that final spot, you have been preparing me for this day since I became an Entered Apprentice.

Like the days of the operative Masons, when I became an Entered Apprentice, I also became your apprentice and you became my mentor. You didn’t teach me how to cut stone or work in the quarry with a builders tools, but you taught me about life, using the working tools of a Master Mason .

You have been preparing me for the day you could no longer walk with me, and now now I must make that first upright step on my own without you. I know now is time for the student to assume the role of the teacher.

Your memory will always live in my heart and to continue your memory. I will find a poor, blind candidate desiring to be brought from darkness to light and use the tools you placed in my hands and help him form his ashlar into a living stone, which I pray will keep your memory alive in all Masons. It’s the circle of life and learning.

~BH

WB Bill Hosler was made a Master Mason in 2002 in Three Rivers Lodge #733 in Indiana. He served as Worshipful Master in 2007 and became a member of the internet committee for Indiana's Grand Lodge. Bill is currently a member of Roff Lodge No. 169 in Roff Oklahoma and Lebanon Lodge No. 837 in Frisco,Texas. Bill is also a member of the Valley of Fort Wayne Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in Indiana. A typical active Freemason, Bill also served as the High Priest of Fort Wayne's Chapter of the York Rite No. 19 and was commander of of the Fort Wayne Commandery No. 4 of the Knight Templar. During all this he also served as the webmaster and magazine editor for the Mizpah Shrine in Fort Wayne Indiana.

The Final Countdown (Not the song by Europe)

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners


I was looking for something to watch tonight (July 17, 2018) and saw that one of my guilty pleasure
movies was available on demand. The movie, ‘The Final Countdown’, was released in 1980. Starring Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen, Charles During, Katharine Ross, James Farentino, and Ron O’Neal, the premise is that while on maneuvers outside of Pearl Harbor, The USS Nimitz, encounters a strange storm. After some investigation, it becomes apparent that the aircraft carrier has been transported through time to December 6, 1941. The crew then must make a decision regarding whether to impact history by destroying the Japanese fleet before it can attack Pearl Harbor, or allow history to take its course. Ultimately, the decision to attack the Japanese Fleet is made, but the strange storm reappears. Unable to outrun the storm before they can destroy the fleet, they return to the present day. Of course, this is an over simplification of the plot, but the movie made me think about something.

Imagine if you will, “You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead- your next stop, a lodge meeting in the past.” If you were able to travel back in time, to a lodge meeting say 100 years ago, what do you think you’d encounter? Most of us would probably answer that we’d see a lodge room full of our Brothers engaged in fellowship. The golden age of Freemasonry. But my guess is that after those brothers were done investigating you and probably questioning your manner of dress, that you’d encounter brethren frustrated with the state of Freemasonry.

We tend to have a romantic view of the past. If you want some interesting reading, read through the minutes of your home lodge from 100 years ago. (Or an older lodge if your home lodge was formed after 1918). I am willing to bet that you will see that the attendance was not much better than it is today. Sure, each lodge may have had a greater membership, but I’m willing to bet that you’re going to see attendance pretty much the same. You’re going to read about all of the issues that face us as Masons today, facing them. You’re going to quickly realize that Freemasonry as an institution hasn’t really changed in the past 100 years.

So being 100 years in the past, what advice could you possibly give to your Brothers? What wisdom would you impart? Do you think that you could change something in the past that would radically impact the future? Would you reveal that you were from the future?

We each most likely will have different answers to the above questions. If you’re a regular reader of our blog, then I tend to believe that you probably care about Freemasonry. I’d also be willing to believe that you are an active member of Freemasonry. So if you have answers to the above questions regarding advice, wisdom or change that you could give to our Brothers in the past then guess what? You can impact Masonry now. If the issues of Freemasonry haven’t changed in 100 years, whatever answers you could provide for then would still be relevant now.

I know, I know... Past Masters, bylaws, impediments. It’s not that easy to change the institution. Actually it is. If you aren’t getting out of Masonry what you want to get out of Masonry, then I’m willing to bet there are a good number of Brothers in neighboring lodges that feel the same way. Find them. Seek them out, and tell them there has to be a better way. Apply your answers to the questions above by finding a lodge that is in need of saving (At that point, the remaining Brethren of that lodge are going to be more open to change in order to keep the lodge open), or form a new lodge. You can’t change the past. You have the ability to change the future. You just need to find a corner of the world to create something that you and other like-minded Brethren have a stake in. “It has to start somewhere. It has to start sometime. What better place than here? What better time than now?”-RATM, Guerilla Radio 

~DAL

WB Darin A. Lahners is the Worshipful Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL). He’s a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of the new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282, and is the current Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign – Urbana (IL). He is also a member of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. You can reach him by email at darin.lahners@gmail.com.



Death Creeps

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson



"The Scythe is an emblem of time, which cuts the brittle thread of life, and launches us into eternity." These words spoken near the end of the Master Mason Emblems lecture catch us of guard. I know the first time I heard them, I almost didn't hear anything else after. As the lecture moves on, we hear the following, "We follow our friends to the brink of the grave, and standing on the shore of a vast ocean, gaze with exquisite anxiety, until the last dreadful struggle is over and see them sink into the fathomless abyss."

I've always thought that that particular bit was a striking visual representation of what it's like to watch people around you die. But the lecture continues still, "We feel our own feet slide from the precarious bank on which we stand, and but a few suns more, my Brother, and we too will be whelmed mid Death's awful waves, there rest in the stilly shade where the worm shall cover us, and naught but silence and darkness reign around our melancholy abode."

Is there a better description of feeling that emotional anxiety that comes with realizing our own mortality? "...Our own feet sliding", reminds me of growing up on the ocean, standing there gazing out at the vastness and as the waves crash and the water creeps up the beach, we think, surely it won't get us. But it's reach is underestimated. We stand there, gazing out, and in a matter of minutes our feet are buried in the sand as each waves pulled us deeper into the ground.

The last two weeks have been trying. This past Sunday, a Fraternity Brother, along with his wife were in a bad car accident. They will recover. That same evening, another Fraternity Brother in my area suffered a traumatic stroke. He's still in the hospital, and has been unresponsive, although he has had some marked improvement. Then we lost Bro. Tech, aka Frank Rook, aka Lance Kates on Thursday. Later that same day, we lost Jim Tresner, a titan in Masonry. And the morning I am writing this, Sunday July 15th, my sister called me to tell me my brother passed. Totally unexpected. He was 46.

We return to the lecture, focussing now on the Hour Glass. Time moves, it passes almost imperceptibly. "Today he [man] puts forth the tender leaves of hope; tomorrow blossoms, and bears his blushing honors thick upon him; the next day comes the frost, which nips the shoot, and when he thinks his greatness is still aspiring, he falls, like autumn leaves to enrich our Mother Earth."

Death is organic. It's biology, it happens everyday. These losses are nothing in comparison to the whole, but in my circles, we received a reminder of the important lesson on Death. A good friend, Bro. Ben Wallace was talking to us one day and he said, "The test always comes before the lesson." Well, we've been tried and tested. Perhaps the lesson is in the retrospection of how we handle these tests.

It's time to keep moving.

~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 Waukegan Lodge No. 78 where he is a Past Master. He is also a Past District Deputy 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 and is also an avid home brewer. 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.

The Pitfalls Of Being Worshipful Master

by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°

I recently ran across some photos of being installed Worshipful Master of Ogden Lodge back in 2010.  I recall that day clearly.  I remember going home after being installed, all wound up about all the things I was going to accomplish during my year in the East.  I told my wife, Valerie, that it wasn't necessary for her to call me Worshipful at home--she could just call me MASTER.  

I was only joking, but it made her so angry, I didn't see her for two solid weeks!  Well, actually after a week, I could see her a little bit out of my left eye.

~TEC

Todd E. Creason, 33° is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blogYou can contact him with complaints about this piece at: webmaster@toddcreason.org