My Masonic Journey

A discussion on Friendship, Morality, and Brotherly Love

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Michael Arce

The first look of your Lodge’s trestleboard is like the predicting your favorite NFL Team’s schedule; there are apparent W’s and L’s for the year. Wins: meetings with engaging programs, guest speakers, the official DDGM Visit, and degree nights. Losses: business meetings. Sometimes a discussion can be a toss-up. Especially when the program for the evening is dependent on participation, that's when well-intended “discussions” can suffer a painful death. Brothers can choose not to speak, go off topic, or worse, overshare personal information that turns the meeting into a yawner. But there are those rare discussions that silence a room with focus and personal introspection. Our meeting was during the week of Thanksgiving, timely for Jason Chaplin, Worshipful Master of Mt. Zion #311, to read “George Washington’s 1789 Proclamation”, written by Midnight Freemasons Senior Contributor WB Gregory Knott. I enjoyed learning that it as Washington’s first official Presidential Proclamation, the first of a new nation, he formally established, “a day of thanksgiving and prayer” on Thursday, November 26, 1789. Lost for 130 years, when you read the words of Washington, you can trace its origins to our Masonic ritual and prayers. After Washington’s words, the Master then turned to his trestleboard, a discussion on “My Masonic Journey,” an idea inspired by Bro. Christopher L. Hodapp's blog. The Master began by sharing his journey to and through Freemasonry. He then asked that each Brother share as much or as little as they like. As the Master posted later on Facebook, “The program turned out to be exceptional. There were even a few tears.”

Exceeding Expectations

I followed the Brother who was moved to tears as he shared his story. VW Wesley Hall is a fourth-generation Freemason, tracing back to Vermont Lodge #18 in Windsor, Vermont. Wes, wears a ring that dates back to the turn of the century, passed down from his great, great-grandfather. He shared the pride he has in continuing his family's tradition and his hope for future generations to join the fraternity. What moved Bro. Hall was when he spoke of the Brothers he had raised as Master or those whose degrees he had participated in. How he thought of the Lodge more like a family, one that not only shared a desire to learn Masonic lessons of improvement but also cared for each other, outside of the Lodge room. I'm usually not one to have a hard time finding my words when speaking but I was utterly befuddled as Bro. Hall sat down. I'm the first Mason in my family. I knew very little about Masonry before I joined. My best friend in college and best man at my wedding became a Mason years after I started my family. He told me that I would love Freemasonry, based on my interest in American History. Matter of fact, I learned more about it from friends who asked questions or shared their thoughts on Masonry after my first Lodge visit. I petitioned my mother lodge while going through my divorce and finishing my Bachelor's degree. I thought Freemasonry would be a healthy distraction, a place to meet men with like-minded values, and "make myself better," although at the time I petitioned a lodge, I understood very little about what that meant. I finished my part with the revelation that what I thought I would get from Freemasonry is much different than what was expected. That was a common theme with what the other Brothers shared that evening. Who could have never imagined learning so much from studying the degree work to be proficient -- not just memorizing parts but the knowledge that comes from reading, researching, and value of what those words mean? There is a network of Brothers we instantly have a connection. I shared how when I boarded a flight home from Las Vegas in September, I spotted a Brother wearing a Chicago Bears jersey, with a Masonic pendant on his necklace. I reached out to wish him a safe flight as I passed his seat. My girlfriend asked with surprise, "Do you know that man?" Another Brother spoke of the meaningful relationships we make with Brother outside of our jurisdiction or area of the country --- this after being reluctant at first to visit Lodges in our district.

Reaching To The Farthest Points of Light

Oddly enough, the only time I have the "What you get out of Freemasonry" talk is with gentlemen interested in joining a Lodge. I always smile when we get to this part of our conversation, as it is my favorite part, sharing the "secret" of Freemasonry. I love the look on their face when they hear how Masons are not valued for who we are but for what we do. We reach across barriers of division: creed, color, economic status, politics, and religion --- differences that often divide men, but as Masons, unite us to work together as one. As the Brothers spoke during the meeting, you heard how each was drawn to Masonry, from diverse backgrounds, perspectives on life, and with different expectations on what they would learn. I highly encourage Master's reading this article to consider adding this discussion to an upcoming open meeting program or future trestleboard opportunity. “The discussion was designed for each of Brother to share their individual Masonic journey,” stated WM Chaplin. “By the end, the lesson was how we have influenced each other. “


Brother Michael Arce is the Junior Warden of St. George’s #6, Schenectady and a member of Mt. Zion #311, Troy New York. When not in Lodge, Bro. Arce is the Marketing Manager for Capital Cardiology Associates in Albany, New York. He enjoys meeting new Brothers and hearing how the Craft has enriched their lives. He can be reached at:

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