Coldly and frankly, I also told him my opinion should not matter and that if this was something he thought would improve his life, he should do it. I explained that I did not have an opinion, that it would be unfair of me to have an opinion as I really knew nothing about them. A few paragraphs in a textbook and craziness from a TV network that regularly aired fifty documentaries on Nazi Germany alongside UFO Hunters interspersed with reverse mortgage ads would not suffice. However, I did offer two observations: the IDs seemed like a nice service and the guys who staffed the booths were always smiling and laughing together.
A few days later, he told me was about to petition a lodge and that he would like to use me as a reference. I told him I would help in any way I could. The next time it came up, he explained he was going through his first degree that same night. We spoke about it the next day. As hard as I pressed, he offered no details, just said that it was moving and not dangerous. This was just enough to tease me.
Over the next few months, he changed. I could not put my finger on it. He seemed happier, had more confidence, focused on everything around us at all times. He was also studying; he took quiet time to himself. I was always curious, so I asked him what was going on. He explained it was Masonry. He had to elaborate. There were social events, to be sure, but Masonry was about serving others and improving himself. He wanted to put as much effort into it as possible. I of course, did not understand.
Weeks passed and each conversation on Masonry remained as nebulous as the last. All he would offer was that one gets out of Masonry what one puts into it. I admit it was a frustrating line of conversation. Finally, I just remarked that I did not understand it, but that it seemed like he had been operating at full capacity after joining, and it was good to see. He glowed while speaking about his new brothers and the fraternity and their good works and their fellowship and how much he was learning.
It seemed too good to be true, but I decided then that I had to see for myself. I asked my friend about joining, and he said he would be happy to be a reference. However, something kept getting in my head- the statement about only getting out what gets put in.
Simply, I knew Masonry meant so much to my friend because he put so much effort into it. At the time, I was working long hours, with a three-hour daily commute, while attending law school part time and raising newborn twins. My wife is a saint, but adding something else to our plate at the time might well have put her in the Communion of Saints. It was not the right time, so I dropped it with my friend and did not speak to him about it again for another few years. I knew that when the time was right, I would explore it.
Fellow: Matt Mistal is just beginning his masonic journey and is currently a FC in Yorktown Lodge # 1154. When not listening to an endless stream of music and podcasts during the world's longest commute, he enjoys reading and writing but, above all, spending time with his wife and two children. He is licensed to practice law in New York and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org