Being a Worshipful Master is not without its challenges, but the greatest challenge that you can face as a Worshipful Master is losing a lodge member. Not only have you lost a brother, but You've also lost someone that as a member of your lodge you were probably close to. On top of dealing with that loss, you're also responsible for making sure that the brother is given Masonic Funeral rites, making sure that the slate for the rites is filled, and then comes the worry that it will only be you and a handful of brethren from your lodge attending the funeral.
I had to face this challenge last week. The Masonic funeral services were held on Saturday and my apprehension was at a high upon waking that morning. My apprehension was not well-founded. Because I forgot, as I often do, that our fraternity is made up of men with high standards. Walking into the funeral home, it was so amazing to be greeted by friendly faces, by my brethren who were just as happy to see me as I was to see them. Twenty smiling faces. Twenty brethren who took the time out of their schedules to honor our fallen brother. While only a handful of these were brethren that attend my local lodge, they were nonetheless brethren that I knew. Brethren that drove in some cases more than an hour to come to pay their respects to their fallen brother.
Normally, I'm writing an article to complain about something that I feel Freemasonry is lacking or to address something that I see as an issue with Freemasonry. I know that many of you are worried that coming out of the pandemic, we will find ourselves fighting harder to get men to come back to the lodge. If my limited sample size is any indication, these fears, like my fears this past Saturday were not well-founded. On the contrary, I see an opportunity for growth, Personal growth, and the growth of the Fraternity.
The opportunity I see for growth is this. We have men that have been locked up for the most part for over the past year, who have had time for some introspection. These men are looking for an opportunity to be something greater than themselves. They're looking to get out of the house, to reconnect with friends. Some of them might want to meet new friends. Yet they might not even realize that they have a place that is like the place mentioned in the theme from the television show Cheers. A place where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came. It's up to each of us to seize upon this opportunity and to promote our local lodge. If this means advertising (gasp) that we're still around, then I see no harm in doing that. Ultimately, if you're doing your job in guarding the West Gate, then you're going to only let in men that meet our high standards. I see no harm in letting the men of your community know that there is a place where everybody knows your name. If this means yard signs, Facebook ads, whatever it takes to get your lodge's name into the community again, I say do it. Let's use this time as we transition back to normal as an opportunity to get some new members.
From a personal level, I need to remember that Freemasonry, when practiced in its purest form by brethren meeting on the level, acting by the plumb, and parting upon the square; is the greatest strength of our fraternity. Our active membership, who are those members that you can count on to show up when you need them. I also need to remember that regardless of our differences, it is our common bond of brotherhood that is the glue that binds us. I need to remember not to care so much about how others are practicing Freemasonry, because, at the end of the day, I can only control how I practice it. If brethren want to have a social club, I need to let them have their social club. If they don't want to prioritize education, I need to stop trying to get them to prioritize it. Basically, I need to stop worrying about what other members are doing and worry about what I'm doing. I won't be able to change Freemasonry, and after seeing those 20 faces on Saturday, I'm not sure I really need to. The men that practice Freemasonry in its purest form are going to continue to practice it.
So the next time I have those doubts enter my mind about Freemasonry, I need to remember the things I have laid out above. While I will probably still try to change Freemasonry, I will do so more out of a love of the Craft, and less out of trying to get my brethren to practice it a certain way. At the end of the day, if they've established a lodge where everybody knows their name, and people are glad they came. Isn't that what Freemasonry is all about? Does it really matter if they're having education or festive boards? If what they are doing is working for them, then they should continue to do it. The beauty of Freemasonry is that it can be everything to everyone, it's just a matter of finding the brethren who want to practice it the same way that you do.