Masonic Travel & Living a Masonic Life

By Midnight Freemason Emeritus Contributor
R.H. Johnson

Well, I’m writing this while on the last leg home from a trip to Eugene Oregon, where I was humbled to present and overjoyed to share in fellowship with Eugene Lodge No. 11

I arrived Friday and had dinner with Worshipful Brother Andre Cvitanich. I ate, probably the best burger I’ve had in years— so let’s say the trip would have been amazing even if it were just that conversation over lemonade and burgers. 

As the late Billy Mays always said, “But wait, there’s more!”

After dinner, WB Andre took me on an evening tour of Eugene Lodge No. 11 

The building itself was their third home. The first, a glorious purpose-built giant white mansion of a lodge, was taken by the government under eminent domain laws. Their second home, a smaller, yet still magnificent building, was also eventually taken under the same laws. 

Finally, Eugene Lodge found a permanent home in their third building, all three mind you, were purpose-built for Masonry. 

An amazing artifact the lodge had was a Trestle Board or Carpet made by John Sherer. It had recently needed some TLC, so it was laid out while a new frame was being custom-built by WB. Andre. The carpet itself is a rare item. There’s a lot to, “geek out on” with this item, and I could, but I’ll let Chad Kopenski of OH do that eventually. 

WB. Andre was humble about what he said was their small lodge. It wasn’t small. It was exactly right. A wonderful atmosphere, where care and thought was evident in just about every part of the building. After the tour, I checked into the hotel and went upstairs for some writing before heading to bed. 

The next day started at high noon when we arrived back at the lodge. I met a Past Grand Lodge Historian, Michael. He was a wealth of information and to be honest, a damn inspiration. He’s written a bunch books on local history, biographies on men of Oregon AASR who’ve had honors and high honors, and a bunch more. He was gracious enough to give me a copy of one of his books—autographed of course!

After some great conversation, we had an awesome lunch. As masons, we love to fellowship and that happens over food. But I’ve often wondered why we don’t have more healthy options. WB Andre put out a spread of breads, fruits, lunch meats, and cheeses. I know some of you might think, “Yeah yeah—sandwiches.” But guys, I mean it. It was a welcomed, wholesome, and blessed meal. I rarely eat before doing a talk. I ate. 

After the talk, we all engaged in discourse, and midway through, it was discovered that about an hour away, there was going to be an outdoor EA degree on a ranch owned by a Past Grand Master of OR. And you know what? We went. In my home jurisdiction of IL, I’ve been a part of, and sat on the sidelines of several annual outdoor degrees, but it’s always a Master Mason degree. I’d never seen an Entered Apprentice degree. 

The windshield masonry on the way to the ranch was outstanding. I think WB. Andre and I solved about every problem there is. Notably, I think we solved all the problems related to the Royal Arch system. ;)

Once we arrived, all I can say is, “Wow.” The land was lush. The surrounding forest, yeah I said forest, was green and mysterious. The birds were singing and the wind was blowing. The trees swayed above and the weather was 70 degrees. Perfect? By all accounts, it was as close as I could imagine to perfection. 

The degree was wonderful. Spoiler alert—the Oregonian work is SUPER SIMILAR to Illinoisan work. There are some significant chunks here or there that were added or removed but the work I heard, I could lip sync to. I have to give a shoutout to a Brother I met named Brian Tipsword. He gave the EA lecture and he did it with such care, meaning and intent, that I was able to witness the candidate make connections during the lecture. It’s what we all hope to accomplish when doing these lectures and Bro. Brian did just that. A different Brother, Mike, did the charge to the candidate and again, care and intent led to a meaningful connection by the candidate. 

After the degree, the fellowship began again! Would you believe they grilled everyone's steaks? Yeah. Delightful cuts of choice beef and served with beans, slaws, salads, and watermelon— it was just wholesome. 

After all that, more windshield Freemasonry. WB. Andre and I reflected on intentional and meaningful masonry in our conversations and we also had some great comparisons of rituals. They did this, and we do that. But we figured out that both our dispensation grants for IL and OR came from MO. So is it any wonder why our ritual was so similar? Oh yeah, and if that wasn’t enough - we got a rainbow on the way home :)

I got back to the hotel about 10 PM. No writing to do, so I sat back reflected on the weekend, and went to bed. The next day, I was traveling home. 

Truly, there is nothing better than getting out there and visiting other lodges for fellowship and education. It feeds the soul. It reinvigorates your call to the Craft. You just feel good. This trip to Eugene was wonderful. May the Brothers of Eugene No. 11 continue to grow, to teach, to lead by example. Eugene No. 11 wasn’t the only lodge in the area making waves that will lead to this Fraternity becoming better. Pearl Lodge and McKenzie River are all making strides. Thank you, Brothers!!  


RWB Johnson is an Emeritus 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 Worshipful Master of Spes Novum Lodge No. 1183. He is a Past Master of Waukegan Lodge 78 (and sitting Secretary) and a Past District Deputy Grand Master for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. He is the current V:. Sovereign Grand Inspector for the 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, 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.

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