by Midnight Freemason Contributor
R.W.B. Michael H. Shirley
|Worshipful Master David Imlah.|
Last year I wrote about my visit to Island City Lodge No. 330, F. & A.M., in Minocqua, Wisconsin. (Click here for the first piece.) My family’s annual vacation to Lac du Flambeau in the first two weeks of June allowed me to attend their stated meeting on the first Wednesday, and the lodge breakfast the following week. I had a wonderful time, had been keeping up with lodge news through their emailed newsletter, and was quite looking forward to my return. So on June 5, after a thoroughly unhealthy breakfast at Paul Bunyan’s, my wife and kids dropped me off at the lodge at 9:30 a.m., well in time for the stated meeting at 10.
In the time since my last visit, some things had changed. New officers occupied their stations and places, with one sadly no longer among them: Bro. Jim Sandus, who had been Junior Warden, had died in August from injuries sustained during a motorcycle accident (Crash Report). I had learned of his accident through e-mail, and had hoped and prayed with my Brethren that he would recover, but he passed to the Grand Lodge above after nearly a month in the hospital. I hadn’t been able to go to the funeral, but I had been there in spirit. He was my Brother.
The new Worshipful Master, Dave Imlah, recognized me and greeted me warmly, and after greeting several other Brothers, I found an apron, signed the register, and sat myself in the North.
The meeting lasted two hours, with minutes, a discussion of pending legislation for the upcoming Grand Communication, a report on the scrap metal drive (it’s a nice combination of excellent fundraiser and much-appreciated community service), the Fourth of July parade float, staffing Trig’s Brat Shack, and many other things, including the most impressive Master Mason’s catechism I’ve ever seen. There was a Bible and working tools presentation to the two newest Master Masons following the catechism. After the meeting, there was lunch, prepared by the Stewards.
On the following Wednesday, I went to breakfast at the lodge, where Worshipful Master Imlah gave a report on the proceedings the Grand Communication he had attended over the intervening weekend. I said a few words, which were apparently well received, and several Brothers asked me afterwards to petition the lodge for plural membership. I agreed to do so, and very reluctantly took my leave. It had been a pleasant and instructive visit, and I had been reminded again, as I had the previous year, that ours is truly a universal Brotherhood, where what unites us is stronger than what divides us.
It’s easy to get lost in the trappings Masonry, and forget what it’s really about. Wisconsin ritual is very different from Illinois ritual, which I mentioned to Worshipful Brother (and past Grand Commander of Knights Templar in Wisconsin) Bob Latzel, who was sitting next to me during the stated meeting. “Yes,” he nodded, “but it means exactly the same thing.” Indeed it does, and sometimes it takes a visit to another jurisdiction to remember that. I’m looking forward to my next visit to Island City Lodge No. 330, on Wednesday, June 4, 2014. If I’m found worthy in the meantime, I’ll be a member there in good standing.
R.W.B. Michael H. Shirley is the Assistant Area Deputy Grand Master for the Eastern Area for the Grand Lodge of Illinois A.F. & A.M. He is the Past Master of Tuscola Lodge No. 332 and Leadership Development Chairman for the Grand Lodge of Illinois. He's also a member of the Illinois Lodge of Research, the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, Eastern Star, and the Tall Cedars of Lebanon. He's also a member of the newly-chartered, Illini High Twelve No. 768 in Urbana-Champaign. The author of several articles on British history, he teaches at Eastern Illinois University.
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