As things began to look good, I felt somewhat at ease. Illinois was in Phase 4 of Covid-19 restoration, and 3 vaccines were announced. "Normal" was around the corner. Then, the first frost hit and the news that we were rolling back to Phase 3 in Illinois. My Lodge had weathered the pandemic fairly well. We had two of our younger members get it and recover.
When the news first hit about Covid, our lodge immediately moved to meet online. Not opening, just meeting as we would have. We didn't need a dispensation to hang out online. A few weeks later, the news came from our Grand Lodge, laying out the rules of engagement when meeting online officially. Then a few days later, the rules were revised. And then revised again. Our Grand Lodge did a good job, and they continue to. They've been fluid.
It didn't take long before we were meeting in a mixed format. We would open in person within a large meeting hall to maintain distance, wore masks the whole time, and had we drank the amount of alcohol we put on our hands...well, you get the idea. Also, we snagged a Blue Yeti mic and a webcam to allow our at-home members to be a part of the meeting. It was a lot of work to get it to all moving well. But we did it.
And now, we're moving back to full digital meetings, at least for the foreseeable future. At the time of writing this, it's 24 hours until my Lodge's annual Feast of Saint Andrew. We're all going to sign on to our computers at 6:00 P.M. and cameras on while we eat dinner together. Yeah...sounds weird right? I've been working at home since March. When this whole thing started, I'd get on Skype meetings, and no one had their cameras on.
I mean it. In 5 years, I had never witnessed one person turn on their camera...ever. By mid-April, I began turning my camera on so whoever I was talking to could see me, even if I couldn't see them. And I have to say, most of the time now, we all have our cameras on. For whatever reason, people are shy about it. Perhaps they think their background is too messy or don't like how their hair turned out today. Whatever the case is, it's a thing.
The only time I don't have my camera on now is if I'm eating. And this Feast is going to happen, and I'm going to be eating on-camera...a first for a Masonic meeting...a first really for any online meeting for me at least. These are, as we've heard infinitely, strange times. I am sure this will be fun. I know the guys who planned it. They're top-notch individuals.
All this rambling above is just that--rambling. What I really want to say is, "Turn on your camera...for us." We miss your face. Oh, and by the way...You're on mute!
RWB Johnson is a Co-Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the 2nd N.E. District of Illinois. He currently serves as the Secretary of Spes Novum Lodge No. 1183. He is a Past Master of Waukegan Lodge 78 and a Past District Deputy Grand Master for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? & Masonic Radio Theatre, which focuses on topics relating to Freemasonry. He is also a co-host of The Masonic Roundtable, a Masonic talk show. He is a husband and father of four, works full time in the executive medical industry. He is the co-author of "It's Business Time - Adapting a Corporate Path for Freemasonry" and is currently working on a book of Masonic essays and one on Occult Anatomy to be released soon.