“There's a world where I can go and tell my secrets toIn my room, in my roomIn this world I lock out all my worries and my fearsIn my room, in my room”
I could totally identify with this song as a young tween through my teenage years. There was nothing like the privacy of my room. The space had once been an open porch on the back of the house in which my father enclosed and converted into a laundry room for my mother. As we grew, the room was converted into a bedroom, I was the oldest child so it was offered to me. Since it had once been a porch there was no heating in the space, so it was cold in the winter and hot in the summer. It was just a ten foot by ten foot room with unfinished sheetrock for walls and a linoleum floor but to me it was my sanctuary.
My room was a place where I could escape from my younger siblings and be who I wanted to be. A no judgment zone. I remember lying in my bed, dreaming of my future far away from the small Indiana town I grew up in. I dreamed of traveling the world, finding my place where I was meant to be. It was a place I could contemplate my life, where I nurtured my hopes and dreams and sometimes, consoled myself after a defeat, which at the time seemed devastating. To me it was a place where I learned to think critically and where to study; not only what I learned from books, but what I learned from life and about myself.
My room was also the place I could invite my friends and we could talk about anything inside those four walls, and not worry about someone hearing our secrets and telling others. From our fears to confessing to the undying love we had for our latest crush to well, just about anything else. We were safe to express our feelings and be who we were and who we wanted to be. It was one of my first steps in creating trust and friendships that last a lifetime. I learned how important it was to keep my word and the secrets of someone else and how important it was to me that my secrets be kept and the importance of judging in whom you put your trust. I think I am safe in saying my room was the place my heart was first prepared to become a Mason.
As you grow older chances are you will lose this private space. If you go to college, you will share a dorm room with another person. If you skip college unless, you are very lucky, you will have to share a space with a roommate, because entry level pay rarely allows a young person the luxury of renting a home or apartment by yourself. As you continue down life’s road you will meet someone you want to share the rest of your life with. This means you will share a bedroom with your mate and all the rest of your dwelling will be shared spaces with your spouse or your children or both.
The men I know handle this issue in several different ways. Some men build themselves a shop where they can do woodworking or work on cars in their garages. Others create a den or a study where they will retreat for solitude. I believe whether they realize it or not I think this recent trend for men to want to build “Man caves” is a way to cure this unspoken need most men have in their lives for a place, away from the family. A place they love for a little while just to sit and reflect on their lives and perhaps recharge themselves. (All of these are much better than my father’s method, which was locking himself in the family bathroom for a long period with the newspaper for a prolonged period.)
It’s just my option but I think, unconsciously, we're looking for this refuge when they look at joining a Masonic lodge. These men who are searching for spirituality are looking for a place of self-reflection and a place where they will find likeminded men who won’t judge them, who will listen to their hopes and fears and help them on their journey for self-reflection.
It has been said in the past that Masonic lodges were the choice place for men returning from fighting World War II. These servicemen were looking for a type of brotherhood that they experienced while they were in the service. Men who understand them and what they went through. I think this may be why the group Tom Brokaw dubbed, “The greatest generation” became known as a group of “Joiners." They were all looking for someone or something to help them find their place in life or help them endure the memories they were trying to suppress.
As the years have progressed, so have several generations of men. While I believe the men of today still want friendship, like their grandfathers did, they are also looking for a way to “connect” with other men--in a real time, person to person. These young men are looking to fill a void in themselves. Many are looking for a spiritual and an intellectual path to guide themselves through their lives. In a world where friendships and all the information of a millennium can be accessed with the stroke of a computer key or the touch of a tiny screen on a mobile device, they want a place where they can go and become a better man and at the same time build lifelong friendships, and a way to define who they are through self-reflection, education and genuine human interactions.
I know everyone didn’t grow up with a room to themselves like I did and sadly many people didn’t have a great childhood. There is no way I can change those experiences, but I feel like I can be a small part of the change for their experience in the lodge room. Just like those who grew up in a less than ideal atmosphere, many brethren leave our lodges behind because their experiences inside the lodge room weren’t as fulfilling as they had envisioned.
Many younger men aren’t finding the experience they were looking for inside our rooms. They come to us seeking education, not only about how the world works and history, but they hope to discover something within themselves which will make them better husbands, fathers and all-around better men. The experience of listening to minutes and the desperation of the treasurer and the pleas of members for help with degree work or to flip pancakes isn’t what they expected, so they leave us behind. Many of them do find that peace and knowledge within a traditional observance lodge but not every brother is lucky enough to have a lodge like that in his area. I believe this is a real shame. Not only are we missing the opportunity to ensure the future of the Craft but also we miss the opportunity to fulfill our purpose.
As we tell the world, “We make good men better.”, we have an opportunity to give these young men the quiet refuge of a safe, and contemplative space for themselves. We are also missing the opportunity to help these men walk down that level of life, giving them the good and wholesome instruction we received through our own lives--our fortunes and mistakes. A chance to share what we have learned from each other.
I wish I could wave a magic wand and create a lodge experience I had in my mother lodge. Sadly, most of those Brethren have slipped away to the celestial lodge above. There isn’t a day that goes by that my mind doesn’t drift back to the fun I had with those guys, inside that sixty foot by forty-foot room. It was the room in which I was raised, received my Past Master’s degree and served in the oriental chair. Those memories, they always bring a smile to my face.
I know this song is not in any way related to Masonry, but while listening to the song I can’t help but find things in the lyrics which remind me of my Masonic journey.
"Now it's dark and I'm aloneBut I won't be afraidIn my roomIn my room"
WB Bill Hosler was made a Master Mason in 2002 in Three Rivers Lodge #733 in Indiana. He served as Worshipful Master in 2007 and became a member of the internet committee for Indiana's Grand Lodge. Bill is currently a member of Roff Lodge No. 169 in Roff Oklahoma and Lebanon Lodge No. 837 in Frisco,Texas. Bill is also a member of the Valley of Fort Wayne Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in Indiana. A typical active Freemason, Bill also served as the High Priest of Fort Wayne's Chapter of the York Rite No. 19 and was commander of of the Fort Wayne Commandery No. 4 of the Knight Templar. During all this he also served as the webmaster and magazine editor for the Mizpah Shrine in Fort Wayne Indiana.