I'm not one of those people who says, "I don't believe in coincidences." Coincidences happen all the time and believing that they don't, in my opinion, can lead us down the garden path that winds up in the cesspool of conspiracy theory. And, if any group knows about the frustration of conspiracies, it's the Freemasons.
On the other hand, we've all had experiences where things seem to be coincidental but aren't. Instead, they're a series of events where correlation and causation converge in some mysterious but meaningful way.
A few years ago I had one of those moments that was, for me personally, so intense I have to believe the chain of events is more than just some random cosmic episode.
My wife, Carolyn, and I were leaving a cemetery when she spied a name on a tombstone that might have been a family member. We stopped to investigate.
Mission accomplished, we headed back toward the car when I spied a family name on the back of a tombstone: "LOWER."
My thoughts turned to Louis Gordon Lower (pronounced 'louher'), a man I have written about so much I've felt like I knew him.
In 1918, sixteen-year-old Louis Lower lost his father Elmer when he was killed in an accidental fall. Frank Land was Elmer's Masonic Brother. He stepped in to help young Louis. The following year, Land formed the Order of DeMolay. He asked Louis and eight other young men to join him as the charter members of the organization. Since that time, Lower has been known as "the first DeMolay."
Lower went on to a successful career in civic leadership in Kansas City. He was revered in his position as the first DeMolay and some even thought in years to come, he would be Frank Land's heir-apparent. He was one of the leaders in the effort to clean up the corrupt Kansas City political machine. After accomplishing this, the mayor of KC appointed Lower as manager of the Municipal Auditorium. On his way home from a long day of work in the early morning hours on July 18, 1943, a drunken security guard attempting to direct traffic confronted Lower for driving in the area. Fully within his rights, Lower challenged the guard for directing traffic while under the influence. The guard responded by pulling out his revolver and shooting Lower in the chest at point-blank range, killing him instantly.
That guard never showed remorse for his actions. He was sentenced to fifteen years in prison but was paroled after only three.
More than 800 people attended Lower's funeral. Devastated, Frank Land eulogized his friend and protégé saying, "Louis Lower was not only the first DeMolay in the world, but he was also the first member of the Legion of Honor. He was a symbol to millions of young men of the ideals and teaching of our order... Louis Lower today becomes a legend. He will forever be leading the mystical vanguard of youth. Death came with the morning sun shining upon his brow."
I continued to reflect on the life of Louis Lower, who meant so much to DeMolay, which has had a significant and positive influence on my life.
"That's not so common a name," I thought, "I'll bet Louis was related to that family."
As I kept walking to the car I turned back to look at the headstones beneath the large granite marker; There, in the center was one that hit me like a bolt of lightning. It read:
LOUIS G. LOWER
1902 - 1943
I was standing at the grave of the first DeMolay.
In this particular case, I don't believe in coincidences.