by Midnight Freemason Contributor
RWB Michael H. Shirley
I remember going to a degree not long after I was raised, and being amazed at the Master’s proficiency at ritual. He didn’t need a prompt, he knew it all, and I left thinking, “I’ll never be able to do that.” I was wrong. I’m now a Certified Lodge Instructor working toward becoming a Grand Lecturer, and it’s a lot of fun, no more so than when I can contribute in Degree Work.
We had a Third Degree at my lodge recently, for a gentleman who began his Masonic journey over a year ago. He had no problem with demonstrating his proficiency, but various practical problems prevented his being raised until now. It was a real delight to take part in his degree: he was excited, we were excited, and it was overall a joyous time. I felt especially honored, as I got to obligate him and do the Charge to the Candidate. A I returned to the West, our Marshall, a dedicated Mason, said, “I don’t know how you guys do it. You didn’t miss a word.” I said, “We work at it. There aren’t any shortcuts.” And that’s it, really. You don’t know what it takes until you try.
Too many of my Brethren quote Dr. Seuss when presented with the challenge of learning ritual:
“And this mess is so big
And so deep and so tall,
We cannot pick it up.
There is no way at all!”
My grandfather used to say that when he had to clean the refrigerator. And then he’d start with one small thing, and before too long he’d finished his task. Ritual is like that: learn one word, one phrase, one sentence at a time, and before too long you know a lecture.
So I offer a challenge to my Brethren who look at people who are proficient in ritual, and wonder, “How do they do that?” Try. Learn something you don’t know. Start small. But work on it every day for a month, and I’ll bet you’ll do something you didn’t know you could do. If you devote ten to twenty minutes of concentrated effort every day for thirty days, you’ll surprise yourself. If you accept my challenge, please let me know how it goes. I want to hear from you.
R.W.B. Michael H. Shirley serves the Grand Lodge of Illinois, A.F. & A.M, as Leadership Development Chairman and Assistant Area Deputy Grand Master of the Eastern Area. A Certified Lodge Instructor, he is a Past Master and Life Member of Tuscola Lodge No. 332 and a plural member of Island City Lodge No. 330, F & AM, in Minocqua, Wisconsin. He currently serves the Valley of Danville, AASR, as Most Wise Master of the George E. Burow Chapter of Rose Croix; he is also a member of the Illinois Lodge of Research, the York Rite, Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees, Eastern Star, Illini High Twelve, and the Tall Cedars of Lebanon. The author of several article on British and American history, he teaches at Eastern Illinois University.You can contact him at: email@example.com