|Silence & Circumspection|
Lodge isn’t exactly quiet, given the number of people there during meetings, but I wonder if we couldn’t learn something from Pascal’s dictum that would relate to Masonry. Masons are social creatures: we wouldn’t come together in Lodge if we weren’t. We like to talk, we like arcane language, and we enjoy one another’s company. Given the social nature of our fraternity, a call to silence isn’t exactly normal. But I have to ask myself this: how much time do we spend cultivating silence? How much time to we spend training ourselves to listen attentively? If we are making noise, we cannot listen, whether it is to a single Brother in front of us, the Grand Lodge assembled in its annual communication, or our ritual during a degree. Silence well cultivated enables a man to be alone with his thoughts wherever he is, and Masonry necessarily calls us to cultivate high purpose in those thoughts. If we would learn, we must listen, and silence allows us to listen to ourselves.
And so I try to be silent when it’s appropriate, and to listen—really listen—to what matters. If I listen to a Brother doing ritual, I will better understand my response. By cultivating my own silence, I can better understand the meaning of Masonry, and can better focus on others. I can only fully be in this world when I pay attention to it. Being comfortably alone in a room enables me to reach beyond it, and embrace all the good the world has to offer. Masonry teaches many things, but common to them all is the need for balance. I need to be out in the world, but I also need to retreat from it. Only by doing both can I live the balanced life that enables me to really live the Craft. Only by being comfortably alone in my room can I comfortably live in the world among my fellows. Only by cultivating silence can I speak with any meaning, and live as the Craft calls me to live: with meaning, with honor, and with joy.