As I pushed my bike, I kept hearing in my head the words of a Brother Master Mason who helped guide my early steps in the fraternity. “Masonry isn’t walking cornrows, and you’re trying to walk cornrows. Slow down,” he would say when I would attend the occasional workers club. This advice seemed to extend to the aspects of Masonry outside of the lodge, in the opinion of this man. When I was eager to get involved in an array of appendant bodies well before I had properly examined the Blue Lodge, I was met with the same caution against “walking cornrows.” This proved to be sound advice, as I found myself overwhelmed and in penalty of suspension for non-payment of dues. Nearly twenty years later, I am finally comfortable with tiptoeing into York Rite.
On that bike ride in the rain, I had the fortune of being slowed down enough by those puddles that I realized I had been walking cornrows and nearly missed an important Masonic lesson the world was offering. That piece of pavement was whole and straight when it was placed upon that stretch of earth. As the grade of the ground and the action of the bicycles pressed and pushed, the needs of the earth were realized by the pavement. This, in my opinion, is an amazing expression of a Rough Ashlar becoming the Perfect Ashlar.
Seeing the manner in which that bicycle path found the true purpose it was to serve in the whole of its existence inspired me to further consider the Ashlars. Just as a stone gathered from a quarry, rough and imperfect might be polished and worked to the specifications of the Master so as to fit the purpose an entire building, we Freemasons, have taken the quest of polishing and perfecting ourselves as stones to fit the specifications The Grand Architect has designed for this building called earth.
Each of us as Masons have our own missions. No matter the design of that mission, it certainly involves becoming a better person and being able to better help others. If we would each take the time to hear the words of my friend and Brother, Dr. William E. Alwerdt, and, “Stop walking cornrows,” we might all find, daily, ways to remove the rough and superfluous parts of ourselves and soon become a Perfect Ashlar like that bicycle path that slowed my day into reflection.
Each moment of a person’s life can operate as a learning opportunity. I have attended lodge under a Worshipful Master who makes the challenge to his lodge, immediately before closing, “If you have the chance to do something nice for someone, go ahead and do it.” Sending us Masons into the world with this instruction serves the purpose of better hueing the part of our personal stone that derives its strength from charity. There are opportunities to apply this thinking to all aspects of life. In any situation, a person can ponder how they might best be fit to serve that situation. How can you become the Perfect Ashlar in your home, workplace, marriage, church and community? The lodge that is our world under the watchful governance of the Supreme Architect tends to give clues to answering these questions if we slow down and apply masonic concepts to our perceptions.
Masonry does not have to stop when the lights turn of and the gavel sounds. Masons walk around in the same world as everyone else. The difference is, we have been taught how to view it. We all, as Masons, have an idea of our mission. Mine is to make the world a living lodge. I challenge you to define yours.
Brother Gregory Dustin Farris is a member of and was raised in George A. Sentel Lodge #764 in Sullivan, Illinois. He is a plural member and active attender at Urbana Lodge #157. He is a husband and dachshund enthusiast with the mission of opening a Masonic club for pet owners. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.