Contemplate in different environments - Quiet Spaces

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Randy Sanders


This Masonic contemplation series focuses on simple exercises we can incorporate to make use of our time in different circumstances, in different environments, to further strengthen our minds and sharpen our focus.  Mindfulness and reaching an altered state of consciousness are different concepts, but both are useful and can be combined during a meditative session.  Let’s explore a scenario and put some context around it.


Mindfulness exercises can be as simple as setting a timer and focusing on some activity, or simply focusing on one single activity through completion.  Accessing the altered state of consciousness is more difficult at first, but becomes easier with practice.  Advanced practitioners reach a point where it becomes easy to tune into the body (body awareness) and find that deeper relaxation through even a few breaths or moments of concentration.  As Masons, you learned the most valuable lesson is Prayer, and applying that lesson now is suggested.


Quiet Spaces


As we look at different environments for contemplative practice, the most obvious of course is your own sacred space or any good quiet space.  Whether we create these spaces or happen across them in our lives, a good quiet space becomes a retreat maybe hidden in plain sight from the physical world of interruptions.


As a mindfulness exercise, let's sit silently and let our attention come to the feeling of simply sitting silently.  What does the air feel like against your skin?  If there’s a breeze, how does that wave of air interact with you?  I don’t have much hair on my head, but you may.  How does your hair feel interacting with the wind?  In my case, how different is the feeling from moment to moment as the wind blows across my brow?  What are my thoughts?  Why are those thoughts important, or are they?


As a contemplative exercise, either close your eyes or focus on one thing directly in front of you such as a tree or street sign, and take 4 long, deep breaths.  The first breath is to allow you to better focus on the next three breaths.  Contemplative work is often done while in a sitting or relaxed pose, but any sitting position can work so long as you are comfortable.  Imagine white light flowing into your lungs with each inhalation, and dark clouds of stress and tension leaving your body through your exhalations.


A couple of minutes each day can make a difference, so why not incorporate quick, simple exercises into your daily routines?


~RS


Randy 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, 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.

Twenty Years

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Hosler, PM


As a child, my mother used to say. “Time flies once you turn twenty-one.”  At the time it was hard for me to believe considering every minute I spent in my classroom felt like an eternity. But as with most things I have experienced in life she was exactly right. With the age of majority far behind me in my rearview mirror, It seems it was every memory of an event that comes through my mind can be now measured in decades instead of just a couple of months like it feels. 


One thing I can remember my mother talking about all those years ago has led me on a journey of a lifetime I never expected to be on. As a child, I can remember several of my parent’s friends would visit the house and they would all sit at the table drink coffee and pass the time of the day. One thing I saw is several of them wore rings. Some were just wedding bands which I knew the significance of these, but others wore a gold ring with a funny logo on it. 


I asked my mother why they wore those rings and what did they mean. She said “They are Masons. You got to be rich to join that group.”  She then said, “Your Great Uncle Don was a thirty-second degree Mason!” The way she explained Don’s rank in the Masons you could tell it meant something to her. The admiration in her voice and the look in her eyes made it clear being a thirty second degree Mason was quite an achievement in her mind.  I decided if there was any way I could become a Mason I would do it. If for nothing more than to make my mother proud. As things go, time marches on and life keeps moving on. Years after this conversation in 1991 my mother succumbed to cancer unexpectedly. She never had the opportunity to see me join. 


Fast forward eleven years and I was talking with a friend’s father who I knew was a Mason.  The talk brought up the promise to my Mom and my unfinished business. I decided I needed to investigate the process further. The internet was still in its infancy in 2002 and after a Yahoo! (Yeah it was Yahoo back then) search I found only one in my lodge had a website. I visited the website and in the photos section of the site, I saw the photograph of two men I had been friends with and coworkers many years before. That sealed it. I had to join that lodge! (Or at least try to).


I’m not sure if it was pure dumb luck or by the design of the Grand Architect of the Universe but two nights later, I was walking into a restaurant and as I was walking in one of the men was walking out! We greeted each other and before He could leave, or I lost the nerve I blurted “I am asking for a petition to become a Mason” (I did know enough that I had to ask to join.) He followed me back in and we exchanged numbers and agreed to get together. Easter Sunday, I visited his house, and over breakfast, I filled out my petition. After what seemed like an eternity, I received word from my friend my petition had been accepted. I was given a date to show up at the downtown Masonic temple in June 2002. 


That night in June was an unusually warm night. I was greeted as I walked through the unairconditioned temple and shown into a small windowless room. The heat was unbearable. I wasn’t sure at that point the bead of sweat I felt run down my back was from the temperature of my terror and feat of the unknown which was about to come. 


As the Brethren prepared me for the ceremony. It had been a few years since the lodge had had a new candidate so they couldn’t remember the differences in preparing a candidate for the Entered Apprentice degree and one who was being passed to a Fellowcraft. After a few minutes, it was like they flipped a coin. I guess they figured they had a 50-50 chance of getting it right. After the ceremony began as I entered the lodge room and was stopped as I felt a group of hands pulling off my shoe and rearranging the regalia I was wearing. You could hear the muffled swear words as they went about their work. 


The rest of the night is pretty much a blur. All I remember is walking around a quiet room, with only the sounds of overhead fans and the occasional sound of a bang that startled me. At some point, I remember my eyes adjusting to the light and someone giving me my glasses.  Once it was over a was reconducted to that small hot box of a room and told to wait there until I was summoned. Once I was able to renter the lodge room, I was able to admire the room's beauty. As I was placed in a chair on the West side of the altar and the show that was being performed especially for me was to begin. 


I was in awe of the parade of my friends who I now discovered to be Brothers begin to recite things from memory. Watching these Brothers performing the ritual kind of scared me a bit. Self-doubt in my own abilities brought on the fear that I would never have the ability to commit things like this to memory. “I am going to make a terrible Mason”. I thought to myself. (Something a lot of Brethren still would agree with until this very day.)


Once it was all over, I was given a small gray pamphlet having a bunch of symbols. “This is the EA lecture you just saw. Study it. Someday you will be reciting it. The secretary said. The little sarcastic man inside me laughed as I nervously reached out for the book. With that, the lodge went dark, and wouldn’t meet again until September. During that break, I studied that book until I knew both the questions and answers inside and out. 


When the cooler breezes of September rolled around my next degree date was scheduled. I came into the lodge, and I was asked to perform the work I learned to another EA for a friend who was coming in. I was asked whether I wanted to “Pitch or catch”. “Catch,” I said with a tremendous amount of apprehension down in the pit of my stomach. 


After it was over, I was shocked at how well I did.  It wasn’t letter-perfect like I was striving for, but it was pretty close. Everyone cheered and I got a lot of pats on the back that night. My friend leaned over and whispered into my ear. “Now you have gone and done it. Once again your big brain has gotten you into trouble.”  


Once I was raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason on October 15, 2002. I became very active within the lodge. I had never thought about being a lodge officer but somehow on my first meeting as a Master Mason, I sat in the Junior Stewards chair.  I started to protest; I had no clue what to do. “Just stand up when the Senior Steward stands and grab that stick next to you.  You will be fine. Thus started my journey to the East several years later. 


Some of the best times I have had as an adult was spending time with the Brethren of that lodge in the bar of the Mizpah Shrine Center. We would all sit around telling jokes and laughing over dinner. Eventually, the local Scottish Rite Valley would close their meeting and come in and join us. The entire room was filled with laughter and many nights it was so much fun it was hard to say goodnight. Like the toast in English lodges goes “So happy to meet. So sorry to part.” It's hard to believe so many of those Brethren have laid down their working tools and advance to the Grand Lodge above. Sometimes I feel like they are still with me because the memory of those days still lives in my heart. There isn’t a day I don’t think about them and smile. 


One thing that has troubled me through the years is the constant beating of the drum with the mantra “Freemasonry is dying.” On my first visit to my future lodge as a petitioner, I attended a wonderful dinner of Hoosier-style beef and noodles with the lodge celebrating the visit of our sister lodge who made the journey from London Ontario Canada. During that visit, an elderly Past Master who through the years I learned to love came up to me and said “I don’t know why the #$^&^ you are joining Masonry. It is going to be dead in five years.”  Needless to say, I was taken aback by this statement. In my mind, I decided if it was really dying, I would ride it out until the end.  


Since then, I have seen many people trying to write the Craft’s obituary. Each one of them was dead wrong about their prediction. I have come to believe such declarations are akin to some wacky preacher trying to tell us the world will end in three days. In fact, I believe Masonry is much stronger than it was when I joined. 


When I joined there were things many of us said were holding Masonry back, such as lodges only being allowed to meet on the Master Mason degree, lack of Masonic education in lodges, and dues at bargain-basement prices. So many things were holding me back from succeeding. Many of these things were spelled out in a paper written by several of my fellow Knights of the North which became known to the world as “Laudable pursuit”. 


Since then, many of these issues have been rectified and we have more men who are joining, and many progressive lodges are thriving. National and international events such as the various Masoniccons have been great successes. Add to that independent Masonic magazines and podcasts get the Brethren thinking and discussing Masonic topics in their own lodges and virtually over the internet. The best part is these are just the tip of the iceberg. Add to these the various Zoom meetings of Brethren have helped strengthen the bonds of Brotherhood when you can’t physically make it to lodge. Sure, we still have a long way to go but I am totally impressed and very pleased with the advancement that has taken in such a short time. In my mind only one thing can slow or stop advancement. That is us. 


Sadly, over the years I have seen many good, dedicated Brethren who have quit the Craft in disgust and a feeling of hopelessness because we still completely turned around American Freemasonry. I get it. In the age of microwaved Salisbury steak and green dinners some feel we aren’t achieving our goals fast enough, so they quit. I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer but I see this is our major problem. 


Each Brother who throws his hand up in the air and takes his apron and goes home is one less worker in the quarry.  One less mentor for a new Brother, one less vote at the grand lodge we could use to make changes. One less Masonic leader who could someday be able to make Masonry better. If you think about how many Brothers, Each set of lost set hands impedes us from furthering the designs we have on our trestle boards and is depriving us of the talents we need to succeed. I encourage you to help bring these men back to the door of the lodge and make them a part of our future success. 


It has been a great twenty years.  I can’t wait to see how we had grown in the next twenty years. Thank you all for what you do and thank you all for your Brotherhood. 


~BH

WB Bill Hosler was made a Master Mason in 2002 in Three Rivers Lodge #733 in Indiana. He served as Worshipful Master in 2007 and became a member of the internet committee for Indiana's Grand Lodge. Bill is currently a member of Roff Lodge No. 169 in Roff Oklahoma and Lebanon Lodge No. 837 in Frisco, Texas. Bill is also a member of the Valley of Fort Wayne Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in Indiana. A typical active Freemason, Bill also served as the High Priest of Fort Wayne's Chapter of the York Rite No. 19 and was commander of the Fort Wayne Commandery No. 4 of the Knight Templar. During all this, he also served as the webmaster and magazine editor for the Mizpah Shrine in Fort Wayne Indiana.

Contemplate in different environments - Very Noisy Environments

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Randy Sanders


This Masonic contemplation series focuses on simple exercises we can incorporate to make use of our time in different circumstances, in different environments, to further strengthen our minds and sharpen our focus.  Mindfulness and reaching an altered state of consciousness are different concepts, but both are useful and can be combined during a meditative session.  Let’s explore a scenario and put some context around it.


Mindfulness exercises can be as simple as setting a timer and focusing on some activity, or simply focusing on one single activity through completion.  Accessing the altered state of consciousness is more difficult at first, but becomes easier with practice.  Advanced practitioners reach a point where it becomes easy to tune into the body (body awareness) and find that deeper relaxation through even a few breaths or moments of concentration.  As Masons, you learned the most valuable lesson is Prayer, and applying that lesson now is suggested.


Very noisy environments


As we look at different environments for contemplative practice, we can practice our concentration skills by focusing inwardly in noisy environments.  I tend to caution against construction zones as jack hammers and heavy equipment often have a jarring effect unless you are around construction often.  I do recommend auto repair shops, street cafes, and so many other options open to you.  


As a mindfulness exercise, lets sit silently and let our attention come to the feeling of simply sitting silently in the midst of all the noise.  What does your skin feel with the weight of the clothes you’re wearing?  Please don’t tell me if you aren’t wearing any clothes in a public or noisy environment.  What other sensations do you experience through your senses?  What is happening around you in that exact moment?


As a contemplative exercise, either close your eyes or focus on one thing directly in front of you such as a tree or street sign, and take 4 long, deep breaths.  The first breath is to allow you to better focus on the next three breaths.  Contemplative work is often done while in a sitting or relaxed pose, but any sitting position can work so long as it is marginally comfortable.  People who sit in a zazen pose will argue with me, as zazen is never fully comfortable, but I argue back that’s the point of zazen is to get past that discomfort.  For the contemplative exercise, focus on gravity pulling you into your chair with each breath.  Feel the effect on your bones as they feel heavy inside your body.  When you feel the heaviness and connect with the deeper consciousness, continue focusing on tuning out what’s around you and redirect your inner attention back to the relaxation and deeper consciousness for 9 to 27 more breaths.


A couple of minutes each day can make a difference, so why not incorporate quick, simple exercises into your daily routines?


~RS


Randy 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, 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.

World's Tallest Mason

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
RWB. Michael H. Shirley

Editor's Note:
I visited the statue and grave of Bro. Wadlow this past Saturday. I think his story is an amazing story, and he was an exemplar of our tenet of Brotherly Love.   

When I was ten, my grandparents bought a copy of the Guinness Book of World Records. It proved a wonderful source of useless information of all kinds, but what drew me to it again and again was a picture of Robert Pershing Wadlow, the world’s tallest man. He was not just tall: he was gigantic; an order of magnitude beyond what seemed possible. Born in 1918 in Alton, Illinois, his extraordinary growth had begun immediately. Measuring 5’4” at the age of five, he had passed seven feet at the age of twelve, hit eight feet while still in high school, and topped out at 8’11.1” just before his death in 1940. He wanted to be a lawyer, and entered Shurtleff College with that aim in mind, but had to withdraw after a year, as it became too difficult for him to move around, especially on icy sidewalks; his legs grew steadily weaker the taller he became, and he required braces to walk. With that avenue closed to him, he traveled and exhibited himself widely, although not with a circus: he represented the International Shoe Company, who made his size 37 shoes. Dressed in a three-piece suit and fedora, he didn’t wear the height-exaggerating costumes and boots of shorter professional giants. He didn’t have to. Jim Tarver, who traveled with circuses for decades as the World’s Tallest Man, wore cowboy boots and a tall cowboy hat, and was still a foot-and-a-half shorter than Wadlow.

I’m still fascinated by Wadlow’s height, but I’m also intrigued by something about him that’s usually mentioned only in passing: he was a Freemason. An active DeMolay as a youth, he petitioned Franklin Lodge No. 25 in Alton on June 10, 1939. He was initiated as an Entered Apprentice on October 19, passed to the degree of Fellowcraft on October 31, and raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason on November 4. He apparently had no difficulty in memorizing his catechism; in fact, Brother William F. Sinclair, who instructed Robert in his catechism, described him as one of the most brilliant students he’d ever known. One does wonder what accommodations had to be made in his degrees, given his nearly nine feet in height. 

The rings shows the base the company
used to cast the ring. The ring on
the left is a size five and on
the right is a size 12.
Early in the next year, Brother Wadlow was given a Masonic ring. Designed and made by the Kinsley-Skovosky company of St. Louis, and presented to him by Robert Goulding at Goulding’s Jewelry Store in Alton, it was a size 25, and surely was the largest Masonic ring ever made to be worn.

He didn’t get a chance to wear it for long, of course. A poorly fitted brace caused a blister on his foot while he was traveling in Michigan. He couldn’t feel it, as his rapid growth had led to diminished sensation in his legs, and it became infected. He took ill, and was hospitalized, underwent emergency surgery, but to no avail. He died on July 15, 1940.

Bro. Wadlow, receiving
his Masonic Ring.
Over 40,000 people attended his visitation and funeral in Alton; a DeMolay Honor Guard stood vigil at the casket as mourners filed past, and accompanied the hearse to Oakwood Cemetery. Twelve of his Brother Masons acted as pallbearers, and Brother William Sinclair, Robert’s mentor, acted as Master for the Masonic funeral service. 

His family was concerned that his body might be stolen, so they had concrete poured over the casket. They burned many of his clothes and other possessions, because they did not want souvenir hunters to make a spectacle or a profit on his memory. He was not a freak, after all; he was just Robert, their son and brother, a gentle and genial man who just happened to be taller than anyone who had ever lived.

The more I’ve learned about Robert Wadlow over the years, the more my fascination with his height is colored with a wistful sadness, not because I would have liked to see him in person in order to stare at him, but because he seems to have been a nice guy whom I would have been glad to have as a friend. I just would have liked to sit in lodge with him.  By all accounts, he was an amiable and kind young man, never turning down a request to visit kids in an orphanage or hospital. Robert Landiss, one of Wadlow’s fellow DeMolays, said of him, “Anybody who knew Robert loved him. My favorite memory of Robert is of him being himself. He was an outstanding person. He was very easy to get along with. Robert liked everybody.” He had a good sense of humor, too. When asked by Robert Ripley, of Ripley’s Believe it or Not, how he dealt with annoying people in public, he said, “Oh, I just overlook them.” He had to do that a lot, given that he was stared at his entire life. He seems to have decided that being kind was a better way to go. “Ninety-nine per cent of the people are OK,” he said. “The rest are just plain ignorant, so why should I let them worry me?” 


Seventy-Five years after his death, Robert Wadlow is very much still present in Alton. The Alton Museum of History and Art has a Wadlow Room, dedicated to preserving his memory, as does Franklin Lodge No. 25. On the campus of the Southern Illinois University Dental School, the old Shurtleff College, stands a life-size statue of its tallest son, alongside a life-size model of his custom-made chair. Stand next to the statue, and you’ll see just how tall he really was. His height, however, won’t tell you something that was arguably more important about him: he was a just and upright Mason, and for far too short a time he walked and acted as such.



~MHS

R.W.B. Michael H. Shirley once served the Grand Lodge of Illinois, A.F. & A.M, as Leadership Development Chairman and Assistant Area Deputy Grand Master of the Eastern Area. He was a Certified Lodge Instructor, a Past Master and Life Member of Tuscola Lodge No. 332 and a plural member of Island City Lodge No. 330, F & AM, in Minocqua, Wisconsin. He served the Valley of Danville, AASR, as Most Wise Master of the George E. Burow Chapter of Rose Croix; and was also a member of the Illinois Lodge of Research, the York Rite, Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees, Eastern Star, Illini High Twelve, and the Tall Cedars of Lebanon. The author of several articles on British history, he teaches at Eastern Illinois University.

Understanding Why Your Committee May Not Have a Team Agenda

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Mark St. Cyr

Since the masonic world appears to revolve around the idea and creation of committees, I penned the following that may help spread some light on why things may not be happening in ways that are assumed. This issue is very common and most don’t fully appreciate it, let alone, consider it fully. 

In the world of business, we hear from just about anyone who  strides a stage or whips out the PowerPoint® presentation  that it’s about “Teams.” They blather ad nauseam about team building. Most regurgitate so many old and tired metaphors to emphasize their points one needs to wonder if they purchased them by the ton.  

Here’s just one: “There’s no 'I' in Team!”  

Back in the day I swore if I ever heard that one again I would walk out of the meeting even if it meant I would be fired.  Enough already, what’s next “Right brain, Left brain  thinking?” Forget the pink slip. Save a tree and I’ll leave  right now was my initial reaction to most of this so-called  “insight.” 

Note: The whole “Left brain, right brain…” thing was disproved scientifically almost as fast as it was told and sold. 

But that hasn’t stopped the endless “New and Improved!”  versions to be authored and then embraced by clueless managements or HR departments. But I digress. 

Let me dispel something else that most don’t fully  understand when it comes to the idea of “team building.”  

A committee can not only cause your team to lose but may actually prefer it. Yes, I just said that. 

Teams and team building is what most say they want their organization to resemble. The problem is most never understand that on a team there can not be any winners or losers within the team without affecting the well-being of the team. Here’s an example: 

When you have one person who can win at the expense of another you don’t have a team - you have a committee.  

The two are similar when viewed from a distance however they are geared and designed to exploit very different objectives. 

Teams share a common goal. That goal could be winning a  game, designing a new widget, or a research project just to name a few. Everyone on the team shares the common quest for the attainment or successful outcome of the project. 

However, if for some reason one person’s input (on the team)  needs to be discounted or not used, that person is neither to be offended nor felt left out. 

Exp: Maybe they’ll need to switch roles, or work on something that seems unrelated to outsiders. But for the winning of the team in its goal - nothing is too big or too small a chore. (Think “Left fielder” moving to “Batting  coach” to possibly win the championship as an example.) 

On a team, the team winning is all that matters, even if it means one of the members needs to be sidelined or  “benched” staying with the sports analogy. But make no mistake. That is not the way committees work, and that’s what most are, but they call themselves the former. 

Committees are important and necessary. They allow for different teams to coalesce and fight for why their project,  research, and others have a need. Another would be to validate their funding. You get the idea.  

But unlike a team - the members on a committee don’t share  the most fundamental principle needed for a team, which is: 

In a committee, someone can win big while another can lose.  (and lose big!) Here’s an example: 

In a committee made up of different department heads let’s say the warehouse department wants more influence or control of inventory decisions, despite that control would entail hindering the purchasing department.  

Here’s why this could be an issue with disastrous implications…

While the warehouse department might win the argument for  having the control (e.g., “We’ll tell you what can or can not,  and by how much, will be put into the warehouse.”), the purchasing department would in effect be losing.  

For inherent with that decision the purchasing department possibly can’t, or won’t via negative connotations, take advantage of offers for some deeply discounted volume buys that would give the sales force an edge over the competition.  Why? 

Because the arguments over control have been decided by the committee to reside with the warehouse. i.e., “Sorry, no room  but thanks for asking.”  

The warehouse might now be running like a Swiss clock, but other departments, or the company as a whole, could suffer greatly.  

Said differently… 

The warehouse has won the battle for control where there’s now little product coming in as well as going out. Everyone within the warehouse applauds their “management” for making their shipping procedures completely predictable and their workload far less stressful. All the while… 

Their competition has loaded up and is bulging at the seams with discounted products they're able to now sell at double the profit margin to all the customers of the “winning warehouse” purveyor. But not to worry, for all the chaos probably happening within the warehouse at said competition… 

For it won’t be long before they’ll be able to pick up more warehouse space - at a deep discount - when that efficiently run committee-driven warehouse company needs to file for bankruptcy. 

Understanding this dichotomy and managing each effectively is what sets winning teams or companies apart. 

Mark St.Cyr 

Freemason

Contemplate in different environments - Outdoors

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Randy Sanders


This Masonic contemplation series focuses on simple exercises we can incorporate to make use of our time in different circumstances, in different environments, to further strengthen our minds and sharpen our focus.  Mindfulness and reaching an altered state of consciousness are different concepts, but both are useful and can be combined during a meditative session.  Let’s explore a scenario and put some context around it.


Mindfulness exercises can be as simple as setting a timer and focusing on some activity, or simply focusing on one single activity through completion.  Accessing the altered state of consciousness is more difficult at first, but becomes easier with practice.  Advanced practitioners reach a point where it becomes easy to tune into the body (body awareness) and find that deeper relaxation through even a few breaths or moments of concentration.  As Masons, you learned the most valuable lesson is Prayer, and applying that lesson now is suggested.


Outdoors


As we look at different environments for contemplative practice, how can we not look at the outdoors, or a park like setting, for both mindfulness and accessing the altered consciousness.  Any nature walk, visit to a botanical garden, zoo, park, trail, or even your own backyard gives access to a simple connection with nature.  


As a mindfulness exercise, lets walk with purpose and attention.  Slow your pace, slow it more.  Now feel the bottoms of your feet as they walk, heel-to-toe.  What does the sock feel like against your skin?  Or maybe we are barefoot, and we can feel the grass against the soles of our feet and toes?  What do the muscles feel like in the ankle, the lower leg, the knee, and the upper legs?


As a contemplative exercise, either close your eyes or focus on one thing directly in front of you such as a tree, and take 4 long, deep breaths.  The first breath is to allow you to better focus on the next three breaths.  Contemplative work is often done while in a sitting or relaxed pose.  When you consider Chi Kung, Tai Chi or other martial arts, or even some Yoga practices, standing and walking also become a contemplative practice method.  Taking the mindfulness exercise above, we build upon that exercise and focus on any object ahead of you on the trail as you walk.  If you are standing or sitting, do the same but with a tree or bush in front of you.  Stretch the breaths to 60 or maybe 90, and let the relaxation of the breathing take you into a deep relaxed state.


A couple of minutes each day can make a difference, so why not incorporate quick, simple exercises into your daily routines?


~RS


Randy 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, 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.

Jacob's Ladder - You Don't Know, What You Don't Know

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson


There are a number of symbols within Freemasonry, and there are no shortage of explanations and attributions for them. No doubt some are ancient and thus indisputable in their meaning e.g. The Circumpunct, meaning Deity, Self, and even a modern attribution in the ages of science as the pictograph for Gold (AU). Others, like the explanations of how to wear your apron, have assigned value that was done much later. Examples being the spiritual (triangle) over the square (physical). These and others are romantic, and yet are an invention of "modern" times. How do we know this? Because the shapes of aprons are of modern design, themselves attributed to the ease of manufacturing. This has been talked and written about ad nauseam. 

Another great example is the placement of the "G" within the Square and Compasses. This too is a "modern" and geographical adaptation. It's distinctly American and the items for which it is supposed to be representative of, only begins with the letter "G" in a few languages, thus rendering it "un-universal". This of course doesn't mean it shouldn't be used or that just because we thought it was cool and invented some concept to attribute to the symbol, even after the fact, and much later, we should drop it. To the contrary, if the assigned value assists you in determining a symbols personal value, than go nuts. But, we should always be honest about our symbols and understand our historical roots. 

We should in fact be arming our new Masons with the ritual teachings, and also the historically and contextually accurate information as well. Yes, I just alluded to the fact that ritual is not factually or historically correct. It is a symbolic work. The writers of the ritual most certainly thought some elements were fact, as they were taken from the Tanach (Septuagint). They likely used these allegories to drive home points, and embellished where they needed to. That's okay, because it's symbolic. It's a vehicle to assist you from getting from point A to point B cognitively, and hopefully changing the way you think in order to change your outward and inward behaviors. 

The stance I take here in no way is meant to take away from the esoteric value of the aftermarket attributions we tend to place on the symbols. Again, if this assists you in manifesting your destiny, then this is the "flourish" that is right for you. And the flip side to this, is that when we dig deeper into the historical and contextual meanings of symbols, we often find something even more complex and deeper than anything we'd thought of before! It pays to research, both externally and internally. 

At this point in the blog post I thought I'd have wrapped it up, but in the interest of giving away something, I thought what the heck...So I decided to give a quick gloss over of something. 

I asked myself, "What is a symbol I don't know too much about, outside the ritual and it's immediate biblical associations?" I chose Jacob's Ladder. Here's a brief synopsis of what I knew and felt it meant symbolically, what I learned after brief research and my (possible) new symbolic outlook. 

What I knew Biblical - Genesis 28 - A guy named Jacob (son of Isaac) was traveling, he decided to sleep on the ground and place his head on a rock. While sleeping, he has a vision of a ladder which extends from the Earth to the heavens. Angels went up and down the ladder. When Jacob awoke, he thought it was a miraculous vision. The ladder is seen in the biblical context as the bridge from Earth to the heavens and the rungs and angels signify the many ways we may traverse to the heavens, through sacrifices, prayers and the giving of the Torah. It's a lesson in connection. 

What I knew Masonic - Jacob's ladder also symbolizes the ways in which we may reach a state of "redemption". It is said to have 3 principal rungs which are "Faith", "Hope", and "Charity" (Love). In Masonic teaching, we're told that of these attributes, Charity is the greatest because of its long lasting impact on successive generations of people. Further, in other esoteric circles the ladder may also represent the foundation cord or rope which one travels on their way to the higher realms. The angels representing the different attributes or even Sephiroth. It even has a relation to the Hindu Gunas (3 attributes which must be in balance to escape the Samsara). 

What I learned - The idea of the ladder, like much of the Tanach is taken from earlier texts from without the system. The ladder itself exists in other cultures and is used in their religious and initiatory rites. It is used as a way to symbolize the steps upward or progressive, through a set of degrees or rites of passages. While in Freemasonry we give the allegory of just three "principal" rounds, most traditions which are older give it seven steps. Perhaps the three principal rounds are evenly distributed (first, fourth, and seventh). The number seven has it's various attributions that we're all familiar with. One Mackey points out is that the seven rungs in Freemasonry are attributed toward the Earthly virtues ad te Divine Virtues, Namely, Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice, plus Faith, Hope and Charity. 

The Persians used a variation of the ladder and they used the number seven. It represented the soul's progression toward perfection. They referred to each round as a "gate". During the "Persian Mysteries", it was necessary for candidates to progress through winding cavernous spaces (7 in total). Each cavern representative of a world or more aptly some sort of representation for the state of humanity and or the mind. The last cavern or world being called "Truth", which is very interesting when we look at the Hindu philosophy of Absolute Truth and how even that relates to the preeminent Masonic virtue of Truth. 

Mackey's Masonic Encyclopedia gives us this table explaining these rounds of the ladder. You move from the base (1) to the top (7).
7. Gold .............. Sun ............... Truth
6. Silver ............. Moon ........... Mansion of the Blessed
5. Iron ............... Mars ............ World of Births
4. Tin ................ Jupiter ......... Middle World
3. Copper .......... Venus .......... Heaven
2. Quicksilver ... Mercury ....... World of Pre-existence
1. Lead ............. Saturn .......... First World
Above I made a few cryptic references to Hinduism and it's teachings. There is an entire paper's worth of significance here that we could go into, and I will...for the Lodge of Research. 😁

For those that are intent on discovering even more about the historical and contextual meanings of Jacob's Ladder, I invite you to look in Mackey's Encyclopedia as a first step. Then I would recommend looking at concepts within Mackey's as referenced in other books of the same nature, before finally venturing out into the world of archaeological papers (non fraternal) for an un-Masonic and unbiased look as well. What truths you find in the non-masonic, which align with the Masonic, may very well be your best argument for what is true. Have fun!

We don't know, what we don't know!

~RHJ

RWB, Robert Johnson is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the 2nd N.E. District of Illinois. He currently serves as the Secretary of Spes Novum Lodge No. 1183. He is a Past Master of Waukegan Lodge 78 and a Past District Deputy Grand Master for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? & Masonic Radio Theatre which focus on topics relating to Freemasonry. He is also a co-host of The Masonic Roundtable, a Masonic talk show. He is a husband and father of four, works full time in the executive medical industry. He is the co-author of "It's Business Time - Adapting a Corporate Path for Freemasonry" and is currently working on a book of Masonic essays and one on Occult Anatomy to be released soon.


It's Masonic Con Season!

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
RWB:. R.H. Johnson



It's June! This time of year is marked by Lodges getting back to work. And in so doing, we're seeing a major influx of presentations at the local and jurisdictional levels. If you're an active Brother, you're undoubtedly busy as all heck trying to make it to all the Masonic Education you can. It's like open season!

The year really kicked off with the Midwest Conference on Masonic Education (MCME1949.org). Read about the experience in this month's The Lyceum (The Grand Lodge of Illinois Education Publication). After that, the Masonic Restoration Foundation held its first in-person meeting in quite some time.

Just this last weekend, I was at the 4th annual Esotericon--in-person after a two-year stint of being entirely virtual. It was epic. Great speakers all around. The weekend before that was the Original Masonic-Con Event, kicked off several years ago by Ezekial Bates Masonic Lodge. This time around, it moved to Manchester, New Hampshire.

You might be curious about what's next...I'm glad you asked. The next Masonic Con event will be South Pasadena Masonic Lodge (SPML) Masonic Con - www.MasonicCon.com. There will be many speakers you all know and love, a major pop-culture festive board, and more. Then in August, both Masonic Con Texas and Masonic Con Kansas! That's right! For the first time since Masonic Con Chicago--a Masonic Education conference descends on the Midwest. You can catch all the details at MasoncicConKansas.com

If that isn't enough, how about the first-ever Allied Masonic Degrees Illinois Ingathering? This event will be on September 17th, 2022, in Bloomington Normal, Illinois. A full schedule is forthcoming.

I hope you all travel, fellowship, and learn together!

~RHJ

RWB Johnson is a Co-Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the 2nd N.E. District of Illinois. He currently serves as the Secretary of Spes Novum Lodge No. 1183. He is a Past Master of Waukegan Lodge 78 and a Past District Deputy Grand Master for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. He is the current V:. Sovereign Grand Inspector for AMD in IL. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? & Masonic Radio Theatre which focuses on topics relating to Freemasonry. He is also a co-host of The Masonic Roundtable, a Masonic talk show. He is a husband and father of four and works full-time in the executive medical industry. He is the co-author of "It's Business Time - Adapting a Corporate Path for Freemasonry", “The Master’s Word: A Short Treatise on the Word, the Light, and the Self – Annotated Edition” and author of "How to Charter a Lodge: A No-Nonsense, Unsanctioned Guide. More books are on the way.

Contemplate in different environments - Work

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Randy Sanders


This Masonic contemplation series focuses on simple exercises we can incorporate to make use of our time in different circumstances, in different environments, to further strengthen our minds and sharpen our focus.  Mindfulness and reaching an altered state of consciousness are different concepts, but both are useful and can be combined during a meditative session.  Let’s explore a scenario and put some context around it.


Mindfulness exercises can be as simple as setting a timer and focusing on some activity, or simply focusing on one single activity through completion.  Accessing the altered state of consciousness is more difficult at first, but becomes easier with practice.  Advanced practitioners reach a point where it becomes easy to tune into the body (body awareness) and find that deeper relaxation through even a few breaths or moments of concentration.  As Masons, you learned the most valuable lesson is Prayer, and applying that lesson now is suggested.


Work/Office


As we look at different environments for contemplative practice, I highly recommend work, or the office, for both mindfulness and accessing the altered consciousness.  We spend 40+ hours each week in the office or work, and why not use it for our own personal growth and benefit?


As a mindfulness exercise set a timer for a couple of minutes, or possibly set your phone alarm for 2-3 minutes in the future.  We tend to focus on what we’re typing, or what we’re doing onscreen.  For the 2-3 minutes exercise, let’s just focus on the feeling of our fingers moving across the keyboard or the arm and hand as we transition to the mouse.  What does the hand feel like as it rests at the base of the keyboard?  What do the tips of the fingers feel as they touch the keys?  Which thumb do you preferentially use when hitting the space bar?  What does the rest of your body feel like while sitting there typing?


As a contemplative exercise, either close your eyes or focus on one thing directly in front of you, and take 4 long, deep breaths.  The first breath is to allow you to better focus on the next three breaths.  I like to use this exercise to clear negativity and stress, so as you breathe in, let us focus on bringing in good, clean air, and as we exhale imagine a little cloud of dark negativity and stress being kicked out of the body and mind.  In with the good air, out with the bad, right?


A couple of minutes each day can make a difference, so why not incorporate quick, simple exercises into your daily routines?


~RS


Randy 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, 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.