In Nebraska Freemasonry, four inches is very important. Our Deacon and Stewards carry their rods exactly four inches above the ground. The Bible on our altar is placed exactly four inches from the Western edge. There are other examples, but you get the general drift; four inches is a lot to us around here.
Now, before I go any further I’m going to tell you this upfront: this is a serious paper, on a mainly serious website, so there will be no, I repeat NO joking here. I have heard all of the jokes (yes, even the one you think is original because you just came up with it) during ritual practice, and while I love a good joke as much as the next, there is a time and a place for it. There is nothing funny about four inches.
When I first started getting serious about ritual work, the whole concept of the four inches struck me as what happens when our ritual work is taken to the extreme: we focus more on the minute details than we do on the bigger, more important issues. After all, when lodges are struggling to find enough men who can mumble out the ritual work, do we really need to be concerned over something as trivial as the height of our rods?
The more I have thought about it, however, the more I realize that four inches can be everything. The distance itself doesn’t really matter, of course, Four Inches And Freemasonry it’s the love and attention we put into every little detail that makes the difference.
In our ritual work, every detail matters. Every detail that has been put into the ritual is there for a reason, and someone made a conscious decision to make it part of our ritual. Now, while I may not know why four inches specifically was chosen (I personally suspect it has to do with the average size of a fist, being a useful guide that all Masons would have at hand, so to speak), at the end of the day the important thing to note is this: the detail was put there, and it is irresponsible to ignore it.
I hope that while you’re learning ritual (and you SHOULD be learning ritual, but that’s another topic), you will spend the time to study those little, seemingly insignificant details, and think about the reason behind them.
WB. Bro. Adam Thayer is the Senior Warden of Lancaster Lodge No. 54 in Lincoln (NE) and a past master of Oliver Lodge No. 38 in Seward (NE). He’s an active member in the Knights of Saint Andrew, and on occasion remembers to visit the Scottish and York Rites as well. He continues to be reappointed to the Grand Lodge of Nebraska Education Committee, and serves with fervency and zeal. He is a sub-host on The Whence Came You podcast, and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He will not help you get your whites whiter or your brights brighter, but he does enjoy conversing with brothers from around the world!