63.8 Miles and An Endless Brotherhood

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Brian Schimian

This past week was relatively boring by my count. Even the last day of an Incident Command class I was taking had been canceled and the final exam rescheduled for toward the end of the month. Silly barricaded subjects…

As I went through my “ho-hum” routine as I was waiting to begin my new employment venture into outside sales, I begrudgingly removed myself from the horizontal position on the couch and fired up my laptop to play around on the inter-web. That just happened to be a few minutes after Brother William Hussey Jr. posted a link to about the “Illinois, Iowa & Wisconsin Tri-State Chapter Day” that was happening the next day, Saturday, May 3rd, 2014 in Freeport, IL. Bro. Hussey stated in this post, “Be there and see me!” Well, it just so happened that I was particularly vulnerable to a challenge at that exact moment. Besides, THE (Larger Than Life & Living Legend) William Hussey Jr. was going to be a mere 30 minutes from me! Not only was it a mission of mine to receive the York Rite degrees, but it would have been simply incomprehensible to allow such a “Legend” to be in the proximity of my home and not make every possible attempt at being in his company.

I immediately responded to Bro. Hussey’s post inquiring what I had to do. This sparked a tirade of private messaging and text messages to get things lined up. Being that I had yet to join a Blue Lodge in WI (my home Lodge is in IL), I was not able to petition a York Rite or Scottish Rite body. Jurisdictional… “issues”… However, in just over a week I would be attending my local Blue Lodge, Becknell #94 F&AM and seeking a Plural Membership. This brought Bro. Johnson into the plan. I would be petitioning the York Rite under the Charter of Waukegan RAM #41. It was short notice, but hey, they always order more green beans than they need for Masonic events. There should be plenty of room for one more.

Suddenly I went from extreme boredom to uncontrolled excitement. It probably didn’t help that I was getting coy messages from Bro.’s Hussey and Johnson… After all, I should have been done with all that goat nonsense years ago! But Brethren being as they are, I had a “surprise” waiting for me Saturday, I just didn’t know what or when. Kudo’s Brothers! I was up well past 2 AM that night. Several things contributed to this, but I won’t go into them here. We will just say that if you ask, you shall receive. I even ended up hearing from an old friend from my DeMolay days that I had recently been thinking about. “This thing of ours” really never ceases to amaze me.

Sometime long after midnight, I remembered that at some point in the initial degrees of the York Rite that I would have to create a “mark”. This would be My Mark for eternity, so I wanted to get it right the first time. I began crafting different designs, researching different things and scratching different ideas. After all, if a “Mark” doesn’t mean something, what is the point of making it, right? Well, eventually I was able to cobble together several different symbols and create something that would stand the test of time while meaning something to me, as well as any other Mason that saw it. Beginning with an early version of the Crusader’s Cross, I added Pillars, a Right Angle, Parallels and a Perpendicular. To me, it is all encompassing of our Craft.

At just after 6 AM, my eyes popped open and I saw the light coming in around the shades. I was wide awake and refreshed. I got cleaned up and donned my favorite pin striped suit and shirt, French Cuffs, of course. I jumped in my truck and headed south not knowing what to expect, other than another adventure in Brotherhood. As I entered Freeport, I was struck by the architecture and age of some of the buildings. Being that I had made the trip a little faster than I should have, don’t judge, I took a few minutes to ride around and take in the sights. As I parked in front of the Freeport Masonic Center, I was taken aback, like I am every time I see a majestic building that is dedicated to the Craft. The towering stonework and pillars are always beautiful to me.

Bros. Schimian and Hussey
I made my way inside and got registered. When I say everyone knew Bro. Hussey, I mean EVERYONE and there was no shortage of jokes to go around. I hung around the lobby saying hello to many new Brothers and checking out the regalia in the halls. Eventually, Bro. Hussey decided it was time to grace us with his presence at the Temple. I will admit, as I saw him enter the lobby, I did say to myself, Cripes! He is larger than life! Even though this was the first time taking Bro. Hussey by the hand, it felt as though I had known him for an eternity. Even if he may wear his ring upside down… Bro. Hussey even took his 2014 IL RAM pin from his own jacket and presented it to me. To say I was thankful or even humbled would be the understatement of the millennium.

The degree work began and I was intrigued from the get go. I love “this thing of ours” and take every opportunity to absorb as much as I can. Up to this point, aside from the Shrine, it had been almost 16 years since I sat in a Lodge Room as a “candidate”. The Fourth and Fifth Degrees were interesting, to say the least. Then we broke for lunch. This was the first time I had a “Masonic Meal” and there were no green beans. Just Saying. I must say though, there was still the looming “promise” from Bro.’s Johnson and Hussey. When they were asking for volunteers I happily obliged and said I was willing. The Brother just laughed and said that, “you are already taken care of”. What in God’s name does that mean?!?! Suddenly I had second thoughts about that potato salad I had just ate!

At the Valley of Freeport
After lunch was the Sixth Degree, which was interesting, and then, “go time”. It was the Seventh Degree and those promises were coming to be. I was instructed, along with two other Brothers to “be ready” and meet in the preparation room. As “luck” (or divine “Hussey” intervention) would have it, I was the number one exemplar, the first of three in line. We were tied to one another with the Cable Tow and eventually hoodwinked. as the blindfold was paved on me, time seemed to stand still. The conversations of the others behind me faded into the distance and I began to reflect. I was taken back to my childhood, helping my father and the rest of the great men making ready for a parade. The multitude of installations, picnics and Brethren from days gone by flashed before me. I could have swore that if I reached out, they would have been there. Suddenly I was 13, in the preparation room, wondering if I would be voted in to the Order of DeMolay. Then, peace. I don’t recall hearing anything that called my attention, just a calming peace with memories of my father and his father.

It had been 16 years since I knelt at an alter and took the solemn vows in the presence of my Brothers. Today it was a very humbling experience and an honor to have been again on bended knee, my hands upon a Volume of Sacred Law, swearing an obligation to the Craft and my fellow Companions of the Royal Arch Masons as I began my journey through the York Rite. Surely to most, this is just another example of earning that masters wage. But I, for some reason, as I am sitting here reflecting on the day, can't help but be overwhelmed by the Brotherhood that just continues to prove itself to be endless. “Blessed” does not even begin to describe how I feel at this moment. The only thing I would change about today, the one thing that is unchangeable, would be having my father beside me for this journey. Even still, I know he was with me in Spirit.

Brothers, I come before you as a humble person with simple beliefs. I could go on and on with analogy after analogy about this life, certainly my own past six months. But let me just narrow it down to this, “If It Is Meant To Be, It Will Be”. If you have read my past entries, you will know that many opportunities associated with the Craft have presented themselves to me, basically at the last minute. I always try to truly think about my actions before I do anything. These instances, when I really think of them, give me nothing other than a feeling of peace. As if I was talking directly to the Supreme Architect of the Universe and Hiram himself was leading me by the Cable Tow.

As I breath air into my lungs, I would give it all for you to have spent today with Butch. He understood more than he let on and certainly enjoyed the Brotherhood of the degrees more than anyone. But, being that I have been burdened with traveling without him at my side, I must pause and give thanks that you all have welcomed me. Brothers... Nay... Companions, Thank You. I am beyond humbled to have been received and included in these degrees of York Rite Freemasonry. I look forward to continuing my Journey into enlightenment with you. I may live by myself, but I surely never feel as though I am alone.

Virtue has united us all, and nothing shall take that away. Until we are able to again meet upon the Level, may the Supreme Architect bless you and be with you on your journeys.


Bro. Brian Schimian is Life of Member A.O. Fay #676 in Highland Park Illinois and the Medinah Shriners - Lake County Shrine Club. He was also the Past Master Counselor of DeMolay - Lakes Chapter in 1995. Brian is a father of two children. "Start Square, Finish Level"

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