I’ve mentioned previously I was a part of a championship high school marching band: The Pride of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Currently, the Pride of Broken Arrow band is the most awarded marching band in the nation and soon on their way to the Bands of America Grand Nationals at the time of this writing. I watched the band sweep all categories in the recent super-regional competition and then again at the state competition this past weekend.
The kids are exhausted, and they are headed into a short, well-deserved break before again adding and tweaking their show for national competition. I see some parallels we as Masons do that also apply toward simple everyday activities. Yes, we have the same old cliché stories of working hard, practicing, keeping focused, teamwork, and leadership. Yet, that same lesson applies to every other band on the competition field. What sets that Broken Arrow band apart from the rest?
We as Masons already know the secret to balancing these energies. When Masons work hard, we play just as hard, and we divide our time for rest. We focus by keeping our eye on the prize, not letting petty arguments get in the way of doing the Great Work. Masons embody teamwork as a lesson of every opening and closing of the lodge, and leadership lessons are given with every sentence, every nuance, of that same opening and closing.
Randy, um, you left out practice? Recently, a new DDGM in one of my districts told me, paraphrased, when we practice, we shouldn’t practice in order to get it right, we should practice so that we can never get it wrong. How powerful is that statement? How deep does that resonate within us? Practice so that we can never get it wrong. RWB Ryan Branson was directly on point.
Another interesting piece to the band that parallels Masonry is often overlooked: Always tweak the show. Always add a bit, or change how something is done. Change! Change? Isn’t change an evil word in Freemasonry? Brothers, that argument you should take up with your Grand Lodge Ritual Committee. What I mean by tweak and change is to bring something extra. Put effort into something you hadn’t previously done for your lodge. I volunteered for the Audit Committee of my lodge this year. I had never done so before, and it was something new for me to learn. I volunteered for the first shift at a recent breakfast event. This I had done many times before, but this time I wanted to ensure I was first there to open the lodge and kitchen. I wasn’t the champion here, as the Worshipful Master beat me to the lodge by just a few minutes. Still, the attitude of keeping it fresh by constantly pushing previous limits, learning, and simply being there? That’s the important stretch. Just like learning something new, make sure you take time now, and in the future, to mentor new Masons. Let them make their mistakes, and gently coach them as to alternatives and improvements. Let them make their own mistakes! It is worth repeating that we learn from mistakes as well as giving us the opportunity to coach and mentor tenderly. Coaching and mentoring is not sitting on the sidelines complaining “it was different” at some point in the past.
That stretching of our own brotherly duties, skills, and practice within the lodge and without? That, my Brothers, embodies the attitude of champions. The constant tweaking of our own skills, the gentle course correction we all need to contemplate, the focus on our internal Great Work that cements the Mystical Tie… That balance in how we approach life coupled with the Great Work gives us something to contemplate so that we embody that same champion in every action and internal competition.
Bro. Randy Sanders and his wife Elyana live near St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Randy earned a Bachelors Degree in Chemistry with an emphasis in Biochemistry, and he works in Telecom IT management. He volunteers as a professional and personal mentor, NRA certified Chief Range Safety Officer, and enjoys competitive tactical pistol, rifle, and shotgun. He has 30 plus years teaching Wing Chun Kung Fu, Chi Kung, and healing arts. Randy served as a Logistics Section Chief on two different United States federal Disaster Medical Assistance Teams over a 12-year span.
Randy is a 32nd-degree KCCH and Knight Templar. His Masonic bio includes past Lodge Education Officer for two symbolic lodges, Founder of the Wentzville Lodge Book Club, member of the Grand Lodge of Missouri Education Committee, Sovereign Master of the E. F. Coonrod AMD Council No. 493, Co-Librarian of the Scottish Rite Valley of St. Louis, Clerk for the Academy of Reflection through the Valley of Guthrie, and a Facilitator for the Masonic Legacy Society.
Randy is a founding administrator for Refracted Light, a full contributor to Midnight Freemasons, and an international presenter on esoteric topics. Randy hosts an open ongoing weekly Masonic virtual Happy Hour on Friday evenings. Randy is an accomplished home chef, a certified barbecue judge, raises Great Pyrenees dogs, and enjoys travel and philosophy.