Anticipation consumed me as I sat in the large dining area with my father. A voice from a man I did not know came out of the hallway to my right and bellowed, "It's time, let's go." The room, filled with about 40 others, began to clear. Each got up, including Dad, and stood in line in front of a logbook on a counter, and signed in. Within minutes there were only four of us left in that empty room.
I sat in eerie silence with two other guys I didn't know at the long table where I had eaten breakfast. The fourth guy in the room was, we learned, the Tyler. He introduced himself. He joked, told us stories, and tried to put us at ease. I was not at ease. It wasn't because I was concerned about what I was going to go through, but because I wanted to get right to it. Time drug. In fact, it seemed to stop altogether. What were they doing in that Lodge room that was taking so long?
Finally, a guy stuck his head around the corner to my left and called out, "Randy!"
Rats. I wasn't going to be first. He took Randy away. More joking with the Tyler. More waiting. Eternity came and went. Finally, the same guy appeared at the corner to my left. I said a small prayer: "Make him say my name. Please make him say my name…"
Prayer answered, I leaped up and followed him into a place that was more a closet than a room. The three guys in there helped me put on a pair of… well… pajamas. They took a gold cross I wore on a chain around my neck, replaced it with a cord of some sort, slipped a sandal on me, and then in their haste apparently forgot to put on the other one. After they blindfolded me, the main guy, followed by the other two, escorted me to a set of double doors, knocked, and announced my presence. After a small wait, I was, for the first time in my life, in an open Masonic Lodge room.
I went through the degree, trying to soak it all in. I learned the lack of a second sandal was not a mistake. I learned why they took the gold chain from me. But it was like drinking from a fire hose. Other things I had experienced… well… I had questions.
They took me back out of the Lodge room, had me put on my street clothes, took me back in and we wrapped things up. It was amazing that the degree that seemed to take so long while I was waiting had passed in a flash. Parts of the degree swirled through my head as I tried to remember everything I had been through.
Then, suddenly, as they sat me on the sidelines, I realized there would be another degree for the poor guy who was still waiting outside, and I would get to see it. I was elated they had called me second, so I could immediately review what I had seen.
There was a knock at the door I had recently passed through. The same three guys walked in with the third candidate. I focused my attention. I hung on every word, every motion, every symbolic allusion. I watched transfixed with my Brothers… my BROTHERS… and tried to absorb it like a dry sponge in water. My Masonic education had begun.