By Force of Habit

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
RWB Michael H. Shirley

I’m now a Hoosier. We’ve been in the process of moving to Indiana for over a month now, with no clear end in sight, but the kids are registered for school, the animals have adjusted, our jobs proceed, and, despite frequent trips back to Illinois to deal with the giant house we haven’t sold yet, it all feels like home here.

With one exception: in all the relentless business of the move, I haven’t done anything Masonic in over a month.

Masonry took up a good part of my life in Illinois, and it was no mere habit, but the conscious choice to involve myself in things. But habitual attendance at meetings mattered. . Our stated meeting was the foundation of everything I did, and I ran in smooth tracks between my house and my lodge. And now, with my lodge three hours drive away, I just can’t go. And I find myself busy and scattered, with ever more things demanding my time and attention. I know where the local lodge is and I know when the stated meeting is, but I’ve just been too occupied with other necessary things to get there.

And so I’ve discovered that it’s easy to fall out of the habit of going to lodge. It will take effort to go back, as I’m not on any email lists, I don’t know when degrees occur, and my next real opportunity to got to a stated meeting will come in September. And here’s the problem with that: all it takes is a few missed meetings and inertia takes over. As I got into the habit of going to lodge, I could just as easily get into the habit of not going.

So I’ve got the next stated meeting of Franklin Lodge No. 107 marked on my calendar, with reminders set to text me every day for a good week in advance. Just as it took an act of will to petition for my degrees, it will take an act of will to go to a new lodge amidst the chaos of moving, and to keep going until it once again takes on the force of habit.


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:

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