I often think of this word as I sit in my own or another lodge after a long day spent juggling my schedule between part-time work, the volunteer fire service and other “work-for-free” enterprises I’ve become involved in. Does being here involve “little effort” on my part? Does being here “fit well with my needs, activities and plans”? These are questions I am sure others must have asked themselves. Looking around, I see that I am obviously not the only one that arrived at the same conclusion. But what of the others? I wonder where Joe, Fred, James, and Charlie are. I was sure they’d be here. How curious. Maybe I should have called them. No. They would know that tonight was Lodge night. They’ve been Masons much longer than me. Curious.
I look around the lodge room at more empty seats than full ones. I look at the officer’s chairs, some filled with the elected and appointed officers; some with Brother’s from the sidelines acting as “fill-ins”. I wonder how many of the other Brothers think about how convenient it is to be sitting in Lodge at 7:30 at night. I rationalize that many are getting up there in years as am I. I think about those that had a nice dinner with their spouse or significant other in the early evening and just couldn’t find a reason to leave their cozy sanctuary, put on a suit and tie, go out into a cold wintry evening, and take part in an evening of fellowship.
“Where is David tonight”, I inquire of our Master regarding the whereabouts of our Junior Deacon. “Why is Brother Joe in his Chair”? “No idea. I haven’t heard from him”, replies the Master with a perplexed look on his face and a shrug of his shoulders. Joe doesn’t really know that part but I’m grateful he volunteered to fill the position for the night.
The words personal responsibilitypop into my head. Doing things that aren’t always “convenient” but because we have taken an obligation to do so and because it’s the “right thing to do”.
As I try to fill the hours between late afternoon and 7 P.M. when I leave home for Lodge, I sometimes think to myself how “convenient” it would be to stay in my comfy clothes, pour a glass of wine, and watch something totally meaningless on the TV or perhaps taking my lovely wife out for an early dinner. About that time, my inner voice; the one that always seems to interrupt the easy way out; speaks to me. “Suck it up buttercup”, I hear. “Remember your obligation in the second degree”, reverberates in my brain. “Be a part of the solution-not a contributor to the problem”, is whispered loud and clear. Once again, my all-knowing inner voice prevails. I take my shower, put on the appropriate Lodge attire and off I go.
What greets me? “Good evening Brother”. “How have you been?” “It’s great to see you. Thank you so much for coming tonight”, says the Worshipful Master as he greets everyone at the door.
I again think of convenience and personal responsibility. Are we in Masonry doing all we can to instill a degree of personal responsibility in our new Brothers? Are we teaching them the importance of attending Lodge; especially when given the opportunity and responsibility of taking an office? Do we strongly encourage them to find a replacement if their attendance that evening is not within the length of their cable tow?
Or do we just shrug our shoulders and say, “oh well”.
R∴W∴ Daniel G. Lort, Law Enforcement Committee, Mid-State Region, Grand Lodge F. & A.M. of the State of New York