I decided to become a so-called "knocker". Freemasonry requires a prospective member to seek membership on their own; never to be recruited. You meet with the lodge's Worshipful Master and you’re encouraged to come back; yet very little is discussed if anything about what Freemasonry is or what happens in the lodge. I was only told there is no hazing. Darn. You’re also invited to meet other bretheran and ask questions, but you get few answers. I returned in a few weeks for dinner. This, in my opinion, is part of the initiation. Are you willing to return and seek out something you know little about? That the people you meet are unwilling to tell you about?
I sat and ate and met some amazing men including my future intender Dan Lutter. I asked questions about what I was getting myself in to. What is this? Is this promise keepers? What will I learn? What do we do? Sure, I watched some YouTube videos and learned Masons killed David Bowie and who wouldn’t be inspired by Nicholas Cage’s high school award nominated National Treasure but that’s the media talking; no one in Libertyville however was.
Esoteric is a word I have never heard or used until I became a Mason. It refers to a small group of people who have unique knowledge. Indeed, there are plenty of good Masons who talk about the esoterics of Masonry. It’s just that; talk. Nowhere in Freemasonry will you find a definitive book or single point of truth like a Torah or Quran. We have no Pope or Imam. We simply have each other. Imagine, 5 million Masons worldwide meet, eat and talk each month yet we have no leader in North America or a solemn and holy book to refer to. We are a collective fraternity of individuals.
While the Internet is loaded with falsehoods and speculations about our fraternity; we are indeed a society with secrets. The secrets aren’t about a New World Order or anything sinister. In fact, if you ask a Mason he will tell you there are no secrets and may struggle after 30 years to explain what Masonry is. He isn’t being cheeky or sly; perhaps the secret runs deeper.
The reason my brothers in Libertyville couldn’t tell me about Masonry or why every Mason has a different explanation of what Masonry isn’t so much the sacred oath as much as it is that the secret lies within him, the individual Mason. Men pursue membership in our fraternity for a variety of reasons; some seek the mystery; others just want the membership card. For many though, it’s a journey of personal enlightenment and personal improvement. To be a better man, husband and father. To talk with others about the history of Masonry, yet if you listen to the conversation, no one person agrees with the other or ever quotes a source. The essence of Masonry is about self-reflection, inner peace and spiritual grace; all for the betterment not just of his brothers but all of humanity. It's personal and only we, the individual Mason, can interpret the code.
I’ve learned that the secret isn’t a secret at all. We’re still searching for it.