I flew into Raleigh-Durham airport, and Brother Matt who lives in Raleigh graciously volunteered to pick me up and drive us to Greensboro. While St. Louis airport was busy but navigable, there was an eerie lack of people at RDU. I inquired of a local TSA agent about the use of Clear and Pre-Check, and he gave me an amused answer of there was no Clear at RDU as there wasn’t enough traffic. I caught up on some reading in the terminal until Brother Matt could get off work. The time spent with Brother Matt was well worth the entire trip, and to add the capstone Middle Chamber class on top? Pure magic. Brother Matt and I might have found JR Cigars giant outlet warehouse (giant walk-in humidor, multiple display stands of closeout deals…) on the way to Greensboro.
We arrived at the hotel again this trip well ahead of the gathering, and the Brothers already onsite proactively grabbed a table at the sports bar. The Brothers were just as excited as we were to begin the evening’s festivities. We were early to the bar and late to the party it seemed. After dinner, we retired to the bar’s outdoor patio instead of the April trip’s poolside tables and chairs. This was nice in that we continued to get good service, but the bar converts to a karaoke and DJ setup later in the evening. There may have been a few cigars out on that patio along with the steady service from the bar until close to midnight when it was definitely time to no longer be around the karaoke.
The Master Mason class started again on time, and this presented a bit of a challenge as the side entrance to the temple that we normally used led into a dining hall being used to proctor their certified lecturer testing. We kept as quiet as possible to avoid disturbing the test takers and made our way up into the lodge room. The capstone class was memorable and somewhat eye-opening. I took notes just as I had previously, this time taking 14 pages of notes throughout the day. Some of these were observational, some were items I thought were interesting in how they were presented, and some were insights I remembered from the books but brought to new life by the instructors.
Brother Matt and I exchanged very deep philosophical conversations and concepts on the way back to Raleigh, and Brother Matt introduced me to a local barbecue from a nearly 75-year-old restaurant. Even though my tastes run more Kansas City or Texas barbecue, I have deep respect for all three Carolina styles, Memphis’s dry rub, and so many more. This was an excellent barbecue and a fitting ending to the evening.
I spent early Sunday morning at the airport Hyatt reviewing some papers and catching up on other reading, and Brother Matt picked me up a bit later for brunch before my mid-afternoon flight. We found a great little Irish pub and enjoyed yet another deep philosophical conversation on topics ranging from our own martial arts experiences to variations of the symbolical teachings of the Middle Chamber course overall. I cannot put into words my gratitude and appreciation for Brother Matt’s kind hospitality and friendship.
The Middle Chamber course from the Grand Lodge of North Carolina is legit. My own Hero’s Journey began when I heard mentions of this really cool education going on in North Carolina, and the more I learned about it the more I just knew I had to attend as if being guided there. It became a want, then a need, to get out of my jurisdiction and travel for this course. As with any good story, there were obstacles to overcome, regrets in missing out on events at home as I traveled, and the feeling of accomplishment in completing the three journeys logging almost 5000 miles. I met friends who guided me, I met mentors who taught me, and I definitely passed an initiatic experience of leaving the old
toward the new self.
The fourth part of this circle of education? The missing song from the Trilogy of Four Parts? That’s the initial free class from January, the hook as it were, that begins the journey again. I am humbled and honored to bring this series of Masonic education to Missouri, and I am deeply indebted to all those around me who helped me on my own Hero’s Journey of self-discovery to make this possible. I created and presented to the Grand Lodge of Missouri’s Education Committee the proposal to train the trainers next year and launch the Missouri version of the Middle Chamber in 2024. This decision now rests in the hands of the Grand Lodge of Missouri. What did we learn during The Middle Chamber series of
classes? Sign up for the Missouri classes to find out, or better yet, sign up for the North Carolina sessions as I found them to be truly excellent.
Randy and his wife Elyana live near St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Randy earned a bachelor's 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 of 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.