A Mason’s Pay
by Midnight Freemason Contributor
We learn from our traditions that the wages of our ancient Brethren were corn, wine, and oil. As I look at the dwindling attendance at our meetings, fundraisers, and social gatherings, I wonder if, like many other historical and spiritual texts, this lesson is being interpreted too literally. Food and drink are increasingly becoming the centerpiece to our gatherings. Don’t get me wrong, there can be great benefit to breaking bread with our Brothers. The discussions, not the food, should be the centerpiece. Now I’m hearing that the best way to attract members is to offer free meals to the Brothers. Is that the only reason a Brother will attend? How long will it be before we are paying our members to show up? What is truly, a Mason’s pay? Have we become, as Masons, only willing to help out the Lodge or Community as long as we get something material immediately back in return? I refuse to be that way.
Truth be told, I do get far more from the Lodge than I put in, but not in any tangible form like a paycheck or certificate. My payment is different. It’s a deep friendship with the men whom I call Brothers. It’s personal growth in learning to be a leader in all walks of life. It’s the impromptu late-night discussions of philosophy with the Brothers that can’t pull themselves away. Its cheering on a Brother's daughter in the local Special Olympics. Its learning that vegans can't eat donuts. It’s opening my mind to new spiritual events like an Autumn Equinox Observance. Its watching our Shriner clown Brother finally get that one shy toddler at the local town fair to laugh. It’s seeing a candidate taking his first Obligation, and remembering when I was reciting those same words. It’s seeing Brethren enjoy a meal that I helped to prepare. It’s meeting the community at the CHiPs events. It’s seeing the smile on a child's face in the hospital on Christmas Eve. And yes, it is of course getting compliments from the nurses during that same Christmas Eve visit. The list goes on…
The emotional and spiritual payment I receive from Masonry is far more than corn, wine, and oil. I know I’m not alone, but I see fewer and fewer men seeking light on their own. If a man doesn’t step forward and knock, what makes us think he will step forward for charity or self-improvement? Do we better serve the world as small philosophical clubs, or should we expand and pull in more men in hopes that they find their own non-material wages? Just as an addict can’t recover unless they admit they have a problem, we will never be able to seek the light, unless we first recognize the darkness within.