In short, I had to make an impression. You see, I was what Masons call in todays nomenclature as a "Web Inquiry". I knew not one Mason. I went to the website of the Grand Lodge of the State of Illinois and filled out a request for more information. I was called by the secretary, set up with a lunch date with a guy who worked in the building where I was employed who was a Shriner. After 3 lunches, I had my petition filled out and now some years later I have held every chair. except Worshipful Master.
Flash forward to today and my involvement in others getting their degrees. I have to say I have done a great many degrees, admittedly more Entered Apprentice degrees then anything else, which I fear is the usual. There are these degree nights that I get so excited for, I want a turn out. I know you all are the same, but how many Brothers come out for the Degree? Seven? Ten? 15 maybe?
The problem of attendance is something we are slowly but surely overcoming in my lodge thanks to a program I have implemented and will shortly publish, but that is another post. Let me ask you all a question, for some of you this may be a vivid memory and for others, a fogy one. But, can you remember how many side liners were in your EA degree? How many Brothers pulled double duty to give you the experience that for the best of us has changed our very lives?
I know I can't. But recently after reading the mental mementos of Bro Robert Walk Jr. in his blog On Freemasonry And Humble Pie ,it got me thinking about my first degree. I thought about all the guys who showed up, who gave me 4 hours of their life to change the way I lived the rest of mine. One night recently I was thinking about this and suddenly fell asleep, it was a long day and it was a thought process which was typical for me. Reminiscing until I passed out.
I woke up, not suddenly, just a calm kind of way. My eyes opened and the first thing I thought about was, "Who in the heck was that?". I had awoken from an odd dream, one that jogged my memory.You see the night of my EA degree, there was a man there, not too much older than myself, who I haven't seen since. He was sitting in the South, just to the right of the Jr. Warden.
It is typical, in Illinois at least, to seat the new EA at the right hand of the Jr. Warden in the south as the degree concludes and proceeds to close in form (officially). So that is where I was sat and that is where this man was sitting. He was the first to shake my hand, and the first to show me what to do as the lodge was closing.
What was strange, is that I haven't seen him since. I knew he was a sailer because he was partially in
uniform. Well, I got to thinking, I said to myself, "You know, I am going to search the lodge meeting records, see when I got my first degree and solve this mystery.". So I did just that. After flipping through pages going backwards until I found it. Attendees for a "Special" meeting of Waukegan Lodge #78 dated 3/5 A.D. 2008, A.L. 6008, "Johnson 1st°.
As I scanned through the names, admittedly it wasn't a huge turn out, I came to the visitors section, and there it was, one name. He was from DeKalb Lodge #144 DeKalb IL. I still can't read the signature and no one knows who he is. But that night, I had mentors and many amazing gentlemen who would, whether they knew it or not, become an integral part of my life, but there was also this other Brother who showed me, a new EA, the ropes as it were. That night he was my guardian.
Thanks Brother, wherever you are.
Bro. Robert Johnson, 32° is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the First North-East District of Illinois. He belongs to Waukegan Lodge No. 78. He is also a member of the York Rite bodies Royal Arch, Cryptic Council, Knights Templar, AMD, The Illinois Lodge of Research and a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Chicago as well as a charter member of the Society of King Solomon, a charity organization run by the Grand Lodge of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts a weekly Podcast (internet radio program) Whence Came You? which focuses on topics relating to Freemasonry. In addition, he produces video shorts focusing on driving interest in the Fraternity and writes original Masonic papers from time to time. He is a husband and father of three. He works full time in the safety industry and is also a photographer on the side as well as an avid home brewer. He is currently working on a book of Masonic essays.