The Light of Masonry

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. Rolf Keil

Masonic Labor Is Purely A Labor Of Love. He who seeks to draw wages in gold or silver will be disappointed. The wages of a mason are earned and paid in their dealings with one another: Sympathy Begets Sympathy… Kindness Begets Kindness… Helpfulness Begets Helpfulness…"
~Bro. Benjamin Franklin

Brothers, I have been a Mason for 28 years. As each of us inside our brotherhood,  I have seen light and I’ve seen shadow and witnessed darkness. Light was always stronger, luckily. Every now and then I have met and encountered brothers that left me enriched, although sometimes just in reflection. One of these encounters happened last autumn, when a few brothers from all parts of the country came together to found an association, with the aim to secure the financial future and the independence of, the largest online masonic encyclopedia in Europe. 
The foundation of our society was followed by an evening gathering, hosted by the Quator Coronati Logde in Frankfurt. My brother and friend, the artist Jens Rusch talked about the Wiki, which he invented and the perspectives it brings for masonic researchers. The support from the brothers was tremendous. This alone made for a successful and fulfilling evening.
But, what touched me most, were the talks afterwards. They touched areas; we usually keep hidden, sometimes even from ourselves. Unexpectedly, there were sentences like: “I grew up in an orphanage”, “My father was an alcoholic”, “I have no positive experiences, concerning family”. Some were even spoken by myself.
When I drove home that night, many similar encounters I have had over the years came to my mind. How many of us have made such similar experiences? We will never know. I suppose there are many.
Q: Why did you want to become a mason?
A: I was in darkness, and I felt a desire for light.
What is the light? It is the absence of darkness. Brother Goethe said in Faust: “ that Memphistoteles  is a part of the darkness, that gave birth to the light.
More than 28 years ago, I first set foot in a lodge in Frankfurt for a public evening. There was an assembly of men in advanced years (more or less, the age I have now☺) there was not one of my generation, the gap between me and the youngest brother was approximately 20 years. What I didn’t know then was on this evening, there were 2 past grand commanders of the supreme council of Germany and several members of the supreme council present. The discussion was at a high level. The tone was sometimes rough, but there was also a certain spirit that bound those men together. Before the closing of the lodge, the brothers formed the chain of unity and parted as true brothers. 
I was astonished, and I re-visited the lodge. After a while I asked to join that lodge and my wish was granted.  
It was years later in my reflections about darkness and light, that I realized that a part of my darkness was caused by the absence of a strong and loving father, in my adolescence. I felt a cold and dark spot inside of me.
And part of the light I desired, were matured men, that were able to give me orientation and advice. Not as a father, but as a brother and friend.  
I have found them in my lodge, I found “Elective Affinities“.  I grew, and I am quite happy with the way things turned out.
When I talk about the light, for me it is not only the cold light of enlightenment, it is not only the light that shines from our great lights, I mean as well, the heartwarming flames of brotherly love.
„The wages of a mason are earned and paid in their dealings with one another.” 
In masonic forums in the virtual world, I often realize a rather aggressive tone, a climate of mistrust and of arrogance, presumptuousness, an obsession with one-sided positions, etc. Does this have anything to do with masonry? Of course not. But why are we acting the way we do, and why do we allow others to act that way?
Now, this is a start of a problem. If we allow a behavior like that in our masonic communities, we will be giving the younger Brethren the impression that it is normal and okay to misbehave.
But it is not normal, and it is not okay. Not in the Freemasonry I know and I try to live. 
Normal should be, that in times of need, there are brothers to help you and to protect you. Normal should be, that there is always help for the widows son!  I have often had the experience that when I visit a lodge as a perfect stranger, I have found an atmosphere of trust and brotherly love. Again, I have found  “Elective Affinities“. The chain of unity that is created upon those affinities can be as strong as family ties, sometimes even stronger. 
That is Freemasonry! What sometimes happens online – sometimes also in annual general meetings- shows us more as a bunch of purely educated men without any good behavior, but not as members of a society of light seekers.
In the profane world we often hear “Trust has to be earned!” inside our Brotherhood it has to be “Trust is given as a leap of faith!”  In an old German Ritual we find: “I recommend you to the virtue of humility. Be humble with a good feeling of self-esteem. Never let it happen that pride can grow inside your soul, because pride destroys the gentle ties of love and trust, which bind mankind together.
These gentle ties of brotherly love count amongst the most precious jewels of the craft.    
Q: Why did you wanted to become a mason?
A: I was in darkness, and I felt a desire for light.

So mote it be!


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