The 50 Year Member: Part Ten - From Darkness to Light
by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Bill Holser, PM
“I'm not sure we should do this” Herb Johnson said as the sound of a large clap of thunder filled the lodge room. “Grand lodge might get upset about this!” Mike Bailey laughed “Grand lodge will never find out about this and even if they did I really doubt if they would care!” “Herb continued “It isn't very safe. One of them could catch fire!” Bailey shook his head “Come on Herb. We are all grown men! The church down the road has hundreds of candles lit at all times and it has not burned to the ground.”
The debate was fast and furious in the darkened lodge room. A large thunderstorm covered the area and the wind and rain of the storm caused a local blackout just as the lodge was to open for degree work. The Master of the lodge not one to shirk his duties because of a little darkness ordered candles to be lit and placed in the lodge room. Candle sticks from the Demolay chapter were brought in and placed in the East, south and west. The usual electric light bulbs which represents the lesser lights at the altar were replaced by actual burning tapers. The senior Deacon was given a small candle to carry when he conducted the candidate through the degree work. “Its just not right guys!” Herb pleaded “I've been a member of this lodge for a long time and we have never done anything like this before.”
A voice came out of the darkness “Herb I was Master of this lodge when you became a member. Nothing will come of this other than we have a new member of this lodge. What else are you going to do? Go home and sit in the darkness and listen to the storm? Our Brethren from centuries past didn't have electricity and the Masonry grew in spite of it!” The 50 year member continued to speak “We tell the world we are the premier Fraternity in the world, comprised of the best men who come to our door and you are saying we can't trust them with a candle? You make it sound like we are children who shouldn't be allowed to play with matches! The Master has said we are going to illuminate the lodge with candles and that is what we are going to do!” Herb muttered “OK. But if something bad happens don't say I didn't try to warn you.” Herb shook his head as he walked to his usual seat among the Past Masters.
Pudge walked into the room, shaking the rain off his trench coat as he walked in. “This is really impressive!” Pudge said as he looked around the room. “This must have been what it was like in the old days when lodge was held.” The 50 year member laughed “Well don't ask me about it. I'm not that old! We had electricity here when I joined!” Pudge laughed “I know that but I am sure it had just been installed! Seriously this is really cool. To be honest this is the way I expected it to be when I joined, a room filled with candles! I think a lot of guys do.” The old man seemed puzzled “Really? You think most men think the room will be lit with candles?” Pudge nodded “Oh yeah, Candles, men in robes, somber music, stuff like that. I think because when they show Masonic stuff in movies that is way they portray it. I bet that is why the traditional observance lodges are so popular among the younger guys.”
“Traditional observance lodges?” Mike Bailey asked “I don't believe I have heard of those before.” Pudge explained “Traditional observance lodges believe we should go back to the way Freemasonry was practiced before the large influx of members during World War II. Instead of just reading the minutes of the previous meeting and paying bills they bring in speakers from around the world to lecture on Freemasonry and have discussions on various topics like history, symbolism or even Geometry. Pretty intellectual stuff.”
Pudge continued “Members dress in formal wear, tuxedos or white tie and tails, whatever they decide on as a lodge. Kinda like a lodge uniform. They also have higher standards for membership. A perspective may have to visit the lodge for several months and be interviewed before he is even given a petition. Then he has to go through a background check and the usual interview. These lodges want to make sure only the best men will become members. Once they go through the degree the man has to write a paper on a Masonic topic and learn the memory work before he can advance to the nest degree.
After the lodge closes the men gather at a four or five star restaurant in a private room dinner called an Agape which is Greek for love. During the dinner they perform a table lodges complete with toasts. Most of the members of these lodges find them very fulfilling.”
Bailey thought for a second “Meetings by candlelight and they all wear the same clothes? Are they Amish masons?” The 50 year member laughed “No Mike not Amish but they do believe in a more pure, simpler Masonry than lots of lodges practice.”
“The thing that gets me about this is they bring in speakers from all over the world, five star dinners, formal clothes...How do they pay for all of this? I mean even with our pancake breakfasts and our other fundraisers we couldn't afford all of that.” Mike Bailey said. “The dues structure for these lodges are higher than the average set of dues in most lodges. I have heard some of these lodges charges their members about an dollar a day, around three hundred and sixty five dollars on top of about a thousand for the initiation fee.” Pudge said. “Wow! That much?! That is a fortune!” Bailey exclaimed.
Pudge laughed “Yes it is but many of these lodges have a waiting list of men waiting to join. They see the value of joining a lodge that offers more than bickering and the reading of the minutes. And they don't have to have spaghetti dinners just to pay their electric bill.”
The Master was sitting at his station and banged his gavel “Brethren we are getting ready to open lodge. Please find your seats and in this darkened condition I mean literally find your seats!” All the men laughed and started to find a place to sit.
“I got a feeling this will be a night we will remember for a long time. “ Mike Bailey Said to Pudge and the 50 year member. “It's too bad we can't do this all the time. After lodge I want to talk to you more about this Traditional observance lodge concept.” Pudge and the old man sat down next to Bailey in the glow of the flickering candlelight “Absolutely!” Pudge said “Maybe by then the power will be back on and we can make coffee and talk about it. “Maybe but to be honest I just hope the power stays off just long enough for us to get through this degree. I don't want the lights to come back on and spoil this evening.”
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.