The first things I used to think of with the mention of the word,"conductor" were: music, electricity, and trains. These are still fine examples of the word. The direction and coordination of a large group of musicians, when done well, the conductor is the heart of the music, co-creating it with the people holding and operating instruments. In wiring, electricity travels on the outside of the conductor, something known as the skin effect. It is also what protects you from lightning inside a car or faraday cage. The better the conductor, the easier the flow of electrons to their destination. A superconductor is a material or a material treated in a particular manner. They are cooled to close to absolute zero (less than 1K or around -260 C) wherein all resistance vanishes. Facilitating travel, the train conductor collects tickets, aids in operations, and has the unfortunate task of ejecting the unruly.
Socrates was said to be the midwife of the soul. A conductor of sorts whose philosophic technique still moves me to other places and frames of mind that I find pleasingly challenging. I sometimes feel my soul moving. My mother, using her body, conducted me from concept to creation, my first home in this world. I am grateful to her for using her-self to bring me to life. Parents, relatives, teachers, friends, conducted me through early years to adaptations, ideas and knowledge I appreciate, and some I’m still working to renovate. Literature is filled with all sorts of guides, gurus, and other forms of conductors.
At the start of my Masonic journey, several men brought me to, or to me, conversations about my intentions, qualifications, and expectations. Some of them met with my family to discuss these same questions and offered counsel if there were concerns about my voluntary choice to join. Most of these men were present during my degrees. Three (LaJoie, Gianoukos, and Crooks) endured over breakfast, a lengthy interrogation by me, Corinna, and our sons, as to why women were excluded from what we do (which is when I learned first about GES, Amaranth, & Rainbow Girls).
Now, my experience of the word, "conductor", has significantly changed; my personal experience with the idea, broadened. I was led to the door, the West Gate, to the threshold of my conscious mind and instructed in our way to ask for greater understanding of myself, through our unique process. I was caringly and thoughtfully guided and prompted through the steps, stages, and lessons in darkness and light. Brothers Grenier, Snyder, LaJoie, and Goetz and will always remain presences and voices in my mind of those who tended to my preparation and conducted me through ritual with dignity and grace. Between degrees, Brothers Crooks, Bodley, and Ehrlich helped me perfect the words I needed to perform to progress. Worshipful Marks will always be the face I visualize in the east when I recite the ritual to myself or practice with a new, “younger,” brother.
More recently, as mentors and friends, a host of new and previous Brothers guide and conduct my progress. Worshipful Snyder recently performed from memory a lengthy introduction of me at my first presentation to a Lodge of Instruction (though following the amazing conversation brought by the Brethren who attended at Mt. Hollis Lodge in Holliston, MA, I now think of it as “Lodge of Inspiration”). As I’ve had good fortune to travel, Brothers Jackson, Jarzabek, and Johnson help me through what I write; they help me edit, and encourage me to persist when I feel like giving up.
So, I write in praise of those who have conducted me this far and to those who continue. As a group, you are my superconductors! (Though “cool” people, these superconductors operate at room temperature and also, decidedly, not in a vacuum. Room temperature superconductors are mostly theoretical, where the above-mentioned human conductors are verifiably, real). With gratitude I hold dear those mentioned by name and the many more not named here. We repeat it because it is true: I would never have met these amazing people if it had not been for Freemasonry. The diversity in their thoughts, backgrounds, and ways of living challenge me to rethink what I know, and how I came to know. They present me with their full selves so that I may be present fully as I am, and we figure it out. Through repeated contact, we grow in trust and capacity to be and act harmoniously in the face of criticism, challenge, disagreement (also in fun and faux pas): we help and instruct one another to do this work, together. As in a super-conductive state, our resistance to ourselves and others diminishes, maybe vanishes, in the presence of others who wish only to aid in our growth and learning; to help with the transmission of knowledge, experience, and self-understanding.
I encourage you to consider those still standing among us who have conducted you through life to reading this post. Let them know the ways they have shaped your experience in, and more importantly, outside, lodge. For those whom have been your conductor though no longer with us, consider sharing a story about them with another brother, in writing, maybe…here.
Brother Erik Marks is a clinical social worker whose usual vocation has been in the field of human services in a wide range of settings since 1990. He was raised in 2017 by his biologically younger Brother and then Worshipful Master in Alpha Lodge in Framingham, MA. You may contact brother Marks by email: erik@StrongGrip.org