The universe is listening, are you?
We are told in our ritual that before any great decision or undertaking, we should invoke the aid of deity. Yet another one of those lines that is so obvious its more substantial impact goes unnoticed. Invoke the aid of deity? "You mean, I should pray before I do anything? Who does that?" We all do it if you think about it. Whether it be for the light to turn green, seats (next to each other) for a movie premiere, dinner to be ready when we get home, or a strong fantasy football performance this weekend; we've all ASKED the universe for something. Most of the time, it is for the tiny little things that are somewhat out of our control, and those prayers go unanswered. No biggie.
But when one of those BIG ASKS comes through, we are genuinely enlightened. Those needs feel different. We approach those decisions with a length of caution that would rival drive-home traffic on a weekday in any city or town. Like a hunter lining up a prize-winning shot, great or important undertakings demand our complete dedication and mental focus. These thoughts consume us to the point of almost overwhelming our conscious. A great or important undertaking is a milestone moment in life. I consider myself fortunate as a man and Mason, that I recognize the significance of these moments and have the knowledge to pause and seek time to call upon deity.
As much as my relationship with others has improved through my continuous study of our work, my understanding of the Supreme Architect of the Universe (SAU) has dramatically improved. For one, I have learned to ask for protection, inspiration, or support as I consider BIG decisions or moments. I treat these moments much differently than when I prayed as a younger man. Those prayers were like the "wish list" I would show my parents when it came to Christmas gift shopping. (Side note: I still miss the fights with my younger brother when "took turns" circling every other thing in the Sears Holiday catalogs.) My conversations with the SAU aren't commonplace, probably a handful over the year.
The second area of my relationship with the SAU that has improved is in understanding our communication is more than one-way; it speaks to me as well. I've done a better job of listening, and I mean really listening to when the universe speaks to me. And when it does, there's no mistaking it! It started about two years ago. After a lifetime of being a "planner," something finally clicked. I took a step back and realized that when I let things fall into place, the feeling of a "missed opportunity" ended. Matter of fact, doors opened, and I started seeing the whole chessboard, not just the top of the pieces. I realized that in my interactions with others, the SAU was connecting with me.
Here is how I explain it. Place your hand's palms up in front of you. Your fingertips should be pointing towards the sky. Now, slowly rotate your fingers so that, like gears in a clock, the fall into place as you turn your hands to the floor. Go ahead; I'll give you a few seconds to try this. Felt pretty cool, right?!? In this experiment, one hand represents our desires and passions. On the other, the opportunities presented in life. If one hand moves faster than the other, fingers miss, points collide or cross, and a void is created. We must then reset our hands and adjust the speed to make that seamless transaction.
When we as Masons invoke the aid of deity, we are, in essence, adjusting the speed to open our minds to receive the instruction of a higher power. We are preparing our ambitions, desires, dreams, and goals to take the role of that leaf that travels gently down the stream, avoid the distraction and detours of rocks and fallen branches. Putting faith in deity doesn't mean that you act remotely or as a conductor, waiting for direction or responding to commands. No, one must still possess an internal drive, the inertia, the unmistakable energy fueled by passion and desire. The difference is allowing deity to act as the governor, the distant yet ever-present voice of clarity.
As we learn to listen to the universe, we can recognize those hidden opportunities and make wise adjustments in our journey that provide beautiful experiences that make life the greatest gift we have. This is great for those who embrace or are enlightened to our teachings. But what about those who are not members of our fraternity? Does this mean that they cannot enjoy sublime moments or benefit from invoking a higher power for counsel? There was little need for investigation as again; the universe provided the answer.
Earlier this year, I connect with Bro. Matthew MacIntosh a member of Morgantown Union Lodge #4 of the Grand Lodge of West Virginia. Outside of the Craft, the only connections that Matt and I share are very loose: fathers, husbands, and fans of Brad Paisley. I'll take that back; he may be a fan of New York-style pizza. Matt messaged me with thoughts on an article I had written on the need for listening to those offering Masonic Education in blue lodge. We've had a couple of hour-long phone conversations about other areas of the fraternity, stretching from the road to the East, ritual study tips, and welcoming new members into our fraternity.
While I was collecting my thoughts for this article, Matt sent me one of his regular "Good Morning, my Brother" texts to share some exciting news. This is what he sent... "I have a Brother in Pennsylvania that called me out of the blue. He had found a bible through a non-Mason friend. Anyhow the Bible had Morgantown Union Lodge No. 4 on it, so he called me. It had our member's name in it, and he had actually passed to the celestial lodge above last winter. The real scary part about this was... it was the Grandfather of the candidate I am working with right now. WOW!!! Was my response to all of this. So needless to say, I now have the Bible in my possession and will present it to our candidate upon his being raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason... what a small world we live in, my Brother!"
My response included how coincidental (not really) that his text was that morning, the news of a gentleman finding Masonry by "chance." What followed was a discussion on how the SAU presents these moments in our life for a reason, for us to seek and understand. Matt's response perfectly summarizes the deeper meaning. "So true, I have always told my wife that he just puts me in the right places at the right time, and I never question."
Brother Michael Arce is 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 firstname.lastname@example.org