One day last fall was just one of those slow days spent watching and waiting for the time to pass. I was in Cambridge for the day and dreading the traffic on the way home later.
Most people who know me can testify I’m not a social person. Especially when it comes to strangers. And even more so when I’m outside on a dreary and rainy Tuesday morning compounded by the fact that I didn’t get my coffee yet. I’ll be blunt, most days I generally want to be left alone until noon. I’m just not a morning person.
Anyways, this older gentleman whom I’ve seen a couple times in the area came up to my truck and asked what was going on with the project. I really didn’t want to talk but mustered up all the politeness I could and explained what I could. He somehow shifted the conversation to the weather, and I realized to my hidden dismay that this conversation wasn’t going to be over anytime soon. Nonetheless I kept smiling and talking to the old man who quickly introduced himself as John.
A couple days later, I was back at the same site. Again, John made an appearance when I’d rather spend my morning quietly alone. Same thing the next day. In fact, each morning that I was there, I swear he was watching out his window waiting for me to arrive. It wasn’t that he was a nuisance or a terrible person. In fact, it as quite the opposite. He was a great guy. I, on the other hand, just preferred to wait further into the day before any social interaction. I quickly picked up on that he was just an old guy who just seemed to want someone to listen to him. Topics ranged from sports to history to current events. Luckily politics was left out.
The last day I was there on that site, he asked about how long I was involved in the Masons. I was taken back a bit as my involvement in the fraternity hadn’t been mentioned to that point. I was pretty sure I wasn’t wearing anything with a Masonic emblem or symbol. I rarely wear my ring to work especially on cold days. How did he know? I’m sure my confusion was obvious to him when I politely asked with a smile. John laughed and pointed out the square compass on the tailgate which has been there so long I never think about it anymore. He said that was what made him approach me that first day.
John then told me his father and uncle were both Masons. He knew nothing about the Fraternity other than growing up just assuming it was some sort of bowling club. They didn’t really share much with him about it. He even said, that for a couple of his teen years, he was a bit hurt that they never invited him or showed any interest in having him join.
He told me that he really didn’t know much about Freemasonry other than the occasional news article or tv show. He wasn’t much into, as he called it, “…watching things on the computer web” which probably was good considering the conspiracy theories on the Internet easily eclipse the truth about Freemasonry. So, he spent the next hour or so asking questions about the Fraternity. I answered the best that I could. I suggested to him that he stop by the Cambridge Masonic Temple on Mass Ave when the next Open House came around. While I know a few Brothers from there, I’ve never had the chance to visit. However, from pictures, it really is a beautiful building. He promised me he would check it out and somehow, I could tell that he would.
Its about this point in my story where the purpose of sharing all that becomes evident. I was driving home that day when I first saw the bigger picture of my encounters and talks with John. I was a Freemason. Whether I accepted it or not, I now represented not just my Lodge but the principles of Freemasonry as a whole as I go through life. Not just with John but with everyone I meet each and every day. It was a sobering thought that, even now, I have trouble putting into words. Not only was I a Freemason, I was a Freemason even when I had no idea that people saw me as a Freemason yet they really did know. Hopefully that makes sense.
Being my usual grumpy self in the morning, I could have at anytime been inadvertently rude or dismissive to John. I could have just asked him to leave me alone. Luckily, I never did.
It was all a quick reminder that, after I took upon myself my Obligation years ago, how I conduct myself every single day is now reflective of not just my values but also the values and ideals of my Brothers, my Lodge and my Fraternity as a whole. I embody them all. Every Brother does. Sometimes we lose sight of that.
I believe it was C. S. Lewis who once said, “Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.” Now I see that, like it or not and whether you realize it or not, people are watching. Represent the Craft well.