Saturday, August 11, 2007

My First Lodge Visit, Mesa Lodge #68

After being raised and passing my proficiency, I have become hungry for all things Masonic, even more so then researching the degrees while I was in the midst of my memorization work; I am learning the lecture for the EA degree and the Senior Deacon’s part.

Still I travel quite a bit, I would say that twice a month I am somewhere else than home and I miss my mother lodges stated meetings. In July I had the opportunity to visit a lodge in Chicago and have fellowship with brethren, but due to circumstances beyond my control I was unable to make it. This past week I had the opportunity to go to New Mexico, and found a lodge that was not only meeting during the time frame of my visit but was conferring the degree of Entered Apprentice, I was giddy. I e-mailed the secretary and announced my visit, not because I am that much of a pompous ass, but because I think they would like to know if a brother from out of state was planning on attending their degree, just so I wasn’t a complete surprise. The secretary e-mailed back and said they would be happy to have me and gave me his cell phone number. He then CC’d all of the lodge officers, to which the Worshipful Master e-mailed me their monthly newsletter. Honestly, that e-mail made me feel better about leaving my comfort zone and going to another lodge, in a different state.

I was nervous driving to their lodge because really, I didn’t know these brothers, and I was feeling comfy and cozy with my mother lodge, and the work preformed there. What if I get up at two gavels instead of three (which I did by the way)? What if I address the lodge Texas style and am mocked and laughed at? While these seem like silly things to worry about and in hindsight they were, it still consumed me. When I arrived at the lodge I came in with a brother who I later found out to be DDGM of the district who greeted me warmly. I was then given the nickel tour of the relatively new lodge building. It is a very spacious lodge that doubles as a Scottish Rite Learning Center for children with dyslexia. They have a room which they call the “Square Club” where they would meet afterwards to play cards, have a beer (which would be clandestine in Texas) or play a game of pool. At my lodge we hang around and talk but usually within 30 minutes it’s me and a couple of the younger brothers bullshiting while the bulk of the brethren split five minutes after the last gavel.

Their ceremony fascinated me, the differences from Texas while small in some areas, is huge in others. The main being that before the candidate is duly and truly prepared, the Senior Deacon goes in the anti-chamber and asks them as series of questions to make sure that they want to be made Masons. They then are asked again before their obligation by the Worshipful Master the same set of questions, it seemed almost overkill in my mind because of the central themes of the EA degree.

It was wonderful to be a part of; at the end of lodge I addressed the lodge as I was taught in Texas and told the newly made Masons that the first degree is the most difficult degree, but that the growing pains pay ten fold in the end, and thank them for their commitment to Freemasonry. Talked with the RWB and a member from a lodge in Lubbock Texas about the differences in the work, I even broached the subject of one day classes, which they refer to as “All the way” in one day. They are more liberal regarding their rules, they allow alcohol on Masonic property (my understanding is a big no-no in Texas, but that might just be my lodge), they don’t require their officers to wear a dark suit. They have ciphers something that my mentor absolutely hates, and have shorter degree memorization requirements.

I don’t want this to come across as me looking down on them because Texas is more hard noised, because that isn’t the case. These men are Masons just the same as me, and because they have ciphers, loosened dress code and alcohol on the premises shows me that Freemasonry is something that cannot be destroyed by such small things. Am I going to start lobbing for one day classes and ciphers? No, but they do serve a purpose, no matter how much some of the old timers despise them. This visit did bring to my attention that while I am fascinated and love the esoteric work, that we are still a brotherhood a fraternity of friends, and because of that we (being my lodge) need to loosen up and have more social events and take better care of the wives and widows. We need not be so consumed with the work, that we spend two hours of floor work to run out the door once it’s finished.

See my Great Uncle was a Mason and traveled a lot (he was a diamond salesman), he reflected once that being a Mason meant that he could travel with safety and know that most likely the town he was stopping in had a lodge. While in my youth I didn’t know what that meant, as a Mason now I do. In today’s world when we travel it’s easy to run around have dinner and drinks with clients/customers and not realize that right around the corner is a lodge room of brethren that you have never met, but most likely have much more in common with them than any customer or client, co-worker or long lost high school friend. This emphasizes to me that my generation is looking for something beyond the superfluities of life and that we are looking for better understanding of ourselves and of our fellow man. Not necessarily a religion or a church of thou shall, but good honest open communication about faith, hope and charity. This has become secondary and my parents generation where consumed by self indulgences and loathing attitude towards their parents, who they saw as stoic autocrats. Their children became Generation X, while has great hopes has become over medicated cry babies that worry about how many times Lohan has been in rehab, or who is pounding Paris Hilton this week. Who’s political discussion turn into vitriol rants of hate within two minutes regardless of political affiliation, and see charity as saving Dafur or some type of criminal punishment, nothing more. Still I see hope, I see it in the young men from all walks of life coming to that old lodge building and reaching out for more than a self help book or medication.

Before the Shrine, before the Scottish Rite or any other a pendent bodies we were free thinkers and invoked philosophical thought from the stable boy to the town mayor. Not drudging up the names of all the famous Masons, because to me a great Mason is a man that did the work with due diligence and because of his membership in Freemasonry made his community a little bit better, to me that man is just as great as any of the Freemasons I hear about every time I go into a Masonic museum.

So while I am sure the debates and rants about alcohol, ciphers, one day classes will continue in the future, I realize that these things are small potatoes compared to what Freemasonry brings us, better men.


Anonymous said...

A small handfull of lodges in Massachusetts were chartered before the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts was formed. If they were permitted to serve alcohol before consolidation we may continue to do so. In fact, many members of those lodges who don't drink still say "when it stops, we stop." My own Blue Lodge is one of them. We serve punch in a bowl smithed and gifted to the lodge by MW Paul Revere.

Anonymous said...

Thoughtful bit on our generation vs. previous ones