Liking Each Other
by Midnight Freemason Contributor
RWB Michael H. Shirley
I’ve been going to the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Illinois every year since I was raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason. It’s been a different experience every time, with new experiences on top of old ones, new friendships made and old friendships renewed, conversations both sublime and mundane, and always a sense of belonging.
Sometimes my wife, Debra, accompanies me. It’s the only time aside from weddings we both get to dress well, eat well, and have adult conversations in elegant surroundings. The Grand Communication is held in Springfield, our state capital, which is home to the Abraham Lincoln home, the Old State Capital, and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, so there’s a lot for her to do if she chooses when the weird guys in aprons are meeting for various essential and non-essential purposes.
We went there together for the first time in 2010, had fun with friends at the various banquets, hospitality rooms, and hotel lobbies, and generally enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. After the weekend was over, we were heading home, and I asked her what she thought. Without hesitating, she said, “I like how you guys like each other so much.”
And that really sums up a lot of what I love about the Craft. There’s a reason the first tenet of a Mason’s profession is Brotherly Love. Without that, nothing else matters. Masonry removes the barrier of mistrust that seems to exist in the profane world and that causes others to remain at a perpetual distance from one another. My closest friends in this world are almost all Masons, and it’s not just because they are likeable guys; it’s because they go out of their way to like other people. Deb saw it right away, and if there’s one thing that keeps her patient with me as I spend yet another evening at a Masonic event, it’s the precious gift of Brotherly Love I’ve found in Freemasonry. I find it in the stated meetings at my home lodge and I find it in the Annual Communication of my Grand Lodge. And so I’ll keep going back, year after year, because it renews both my love of the Craft and my connection to my Brethren. With any luck, Deb will come too.
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 is Past Most Wise Master of the George E. Burow Chapter of Rose Croix in the Valley of Danville, IL; 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: firstname.lastname@example.org