Growing up my grandfather owned a construction company. I always saw him as a jack-of-all-trades and he owned the tools to go with (I spent summers going to jobs with him to be the gopher and help clean up).
My Dad too was always a fixer and builder. In his workshop, there were all types of tools, a lathe, a band saw, a table saw, and multiple toolboxes. Now I have been handed down tools from both of these men, but even though I now have the tools, I cannot build a house!
We are told that everyone should reference their sacred book and be given the tools of the craft with the speculative function of each tool throughout the degrees.
Ritual and the working tools are to be the answers to all the mysteries. It is up to each brother to research how to use them to make himself better and to grow.
The problem with tools is they can be used in more than one way. While the gavel can be used to knock off the edges and make the stones fit together, it can also be used to destroy or demolish. The trowel is not only used to smooth or spread, but also has a pointed tip to pick out the old mortar in tuckpointing. These are not improper uses for these tools.
How many times in life have you heard “measure twice cut once”? What if the gauge is in centimeters, not inches?
What if you spend all day using the plumb and never take time to check if things are square? (Have you seen some of the smaller lodge buildings, did they use a square??)
Tools in the wrong hands or not used as intended can do damage.
We give the apprentices, fellowcrafts, and master masons tools and then expect the result to be a temple. We tend to overlook the fact that if we work alone, we will end up with something more like a shed than a temple.
We should give every mason the tools but WE need to also help them learn how to use them.
We are charged to become a perfect ashlar, though it is only perfection based on how it joins the next stone. If we solely focus inward, are we becoming the best possible version of ourselves?
Let us be mindful of our Masonic responsibilities that can be summed up in one word, "practice." This can be only accomplished by practicing solo, then coming together.
Buildings are not made of one stone but rather many put together.
We are living stones needing to work as a group to build the future together.
**one solo stone in a field is not a monument; it is a tripping hazard.
WBro Joseph Stewart 32° is Past Master of Napthali Lodge #25 and Wentzville Lodge #46, AF&AM, Grand Lodge of Missouri. Joe is very active in Masonic Rainbow and DeMolay youth organizations, leading the revitalization of the Daniel Boone DeMolay Chapter and a long-time member of the Wentzville Rainbow Advisory Board. Joe is active in the Valley of St. Louis AASR as an officer in both the Knights of St. Andrew and the Kadosh line and works with the candidate and library committees. Joe lives in the greater St. Louis area. When not working as a senior IT and infrastructure analyst, Joe, his wife, and four children enjoy the reenactment of Scottish life of the 1500s.