Being a relatively new Mason, I took places in the officer line when asked. Like many Lodges, filling the line can be challenging. As many of you may relate, I said yes, desiring to help without really fully understanding the duties and expectations. Nearing the end of my year in the Junior Deacon’s place, I was approached by the Senior Warden--he was planning his year and line. His question was, “Are you planning to remain in the line all the way to the East?” This was a bit of a conflict as my father and his father had both been Past Masters of their Lakewood Lodge #174 F&AM (NJ). I did feel a pull to fulfill that lineage and honor to them and still do. After momentary reflection, I responded that I did not yet feel called to do that. He said, in that case, I should not progress to the Senior Deacon’s place. He then asked if I would be interested in being the Tiler. Again, wishing to be of service and value to the Lodge, I said yes.
A new door had opened symbolically and literally to the Tiler’s closet. I knew a little about Tiling the Lodge, little being a most operative description. I was used to seeing a Tiler at the door, one being appointed by the Master or a substitute. Our appointed Tiler at the time was not a regular attendee, so early arriving members would be sure the Lodge was set up. I was typically early and helped in that duty and learned the arrangement of the furniture. Our Temple has several appendant bodies, so our Lodge room is shared, necessitating our putting much furniture away after each meeting. The Tiler’s closet was not very organized. After meetings, members were ready to leave the Lodge room, so furniture was quickly stored, haphazardly. Okay, stating it less PC--it was a mess.
Before each meeting, my greeting, welcoming, and checking dues cards are most meaningful in not only guarding the West Gate but significant in recognizing and ‘seeing’ each brother warmly and embodying our fraternal nature. Additionally, the Tiler is observed being properly clothed. Along with that, I perceive my duty to present myself upright and appropriately attired: black jacket, pants, white shirt, and black tie.
The acts of preparing the Lodge room and subsequently retiring the furniture after is ritual. Each piece speaks to its place in the Lodge and the symbol or symbols it represents. Each must be touched and placed, presenting the opportunity to be felt and known. The Lodge room is quiet and still, other than my movement, which invokes a reverence to the process. It is akin to awakening the Lodge room from darkness or rest to light and creativity and returning it, fulfilling a cycle. Within this hallowed space, I commune with my father and grandfather, neither knowing in their time that I would become a Mason, but I knowingly associate my experience with theirs.
Being the Tiler is a personally rewarding and enriching experience. There is depth to be explored as part of one’s Masonic journey. I am sure every station or place offers this if one embraces the possibility. This is the value--to peel away the layers, to absorb the deeper meaning that can contribute to our improvement of being. And, to be a light to those we meet and who follow.
Oh, and, did I mention how cool it is to have a sword?
Bill Milnor is the Tiler at South Denver Lodge #93 in Denver, Colorado. He is a member of the Valley of Denver Orient Scottish Rite and currently the Sojourner of Royal Arch Triad Chapter #42. He is also a member of National Sojourners Denver-Fitzsimons Chapter #37.