A few evenings ago I asked my wife how she might like her dinner prepared. I purchased a few fillets of a nice white ocean fish, which although good didn’t have much flavor. She suggested garlic, salt, and pepper marinade, which over a 4 hour period was absolutely perfect for those fillets then paired with rice and mixed vegetables. Over the past year, I moved away from my expensive pellet grill back to an old heavy steel charcoal barrel-style grill. The very basic charcoal along with a simple rub produces results just not attainable with pellet or gas grills. I’m not giving up on a good complex sauce to accompany a perfectly cooked pasta or changing up my often gourmet seasonings for different cultural nuances. Rather, I rediscovered an experience. In and of itself, the changes seem innocuous enough, but I see it as a trend in my life as I rethink the complexities of not just cooking but everything, even Freemasonry.
Part of this stems from an exercise performed in the Winter of 2020 and again recently in Winter 2022 at the Scottish Rite’s Academy Of Reflection Winter Contemplative Retreat. One of the exercises in the retreat is to eat in silence, slowly, and going back to simplicity by focusing on the food, process of eating, and what that means to you. I found it to be stimulating as I considered the flavors and textures of the basic meals we enjoyed together in silence.
The lesson was partially lost on me for a time as we entered the COVID pandemic years, and I rediscovered the beauty of the exercise in the 2022 retreat. Then came the realization of how simplicity extends to all facets of my life. My realization of this came with the additional realization that I had already begun doing this exercise in other areas of my life. Unknowingly, I returned to basic cooking techniques. At work, I returned to questioning everything, asking why processes existed, and cutting out meetings, and with Freemasonry, I must admit to the same.
Cutting out meetings? But, your obligations!
Brothers, I continue to promote a healthy Masonic fraternity. I respect my blue lodge and appendant bodies, and I am committed to helping them in every way possible. Did I mention convenient? No? I do mean any way possible. My cable-tow doesn’t end just because some meeting is inconvenient. However, let’s strip away the superfluities, the processes, the pageantry. When we get down to it, what am I contributing, except dues, to any one organization?
If the answer is “nothing”, then it’s time to think about what you can offer. What value can you bring to the table? There is always an answer of yes. There’s always value you bring. The craft needs you, but you may not realize your own worth so keep it simple. Contribute in small ways then worry later about contributing in larger ways. Find the things you love and bring those things you love to the craft rather than trying to be something you aren’t. We meditate for a deeper meaning to “who am I” and “why am I here” when the question may be as simple as “I’m good at landscaping, so maybe I can help the lodge building look better?” or, “if I attend this meeting I considered skipping, can I find a means to contribute while enjoying the fellowship of Brethren?” And my favorite: “I may not be the best at ritual, but I can do a silent part when needed.”
It's the simplest of things.
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.