Monday, September 3, 2007
My Second Lodge Visit Mt Carmel No. 133
I am back after my trip to Virginia; I know you were all awaiting my report. I think that one of these trips when I go back to Virginia I will have to visit the George Washington Masonic Memorial. I had the opportunity to stay in Alexandria, but didn’t have the schedule to visit the monument. When I first witnessed it, I was struck about how the building stands out so clearly. But this trip I went to a place about an hour and forty-five minutes south of Alexandria, in a small town called Warrenton, Virginia. Warrenton is a picture perfect small east coast town, with a population of 8377. Main street is full of craft shops (or as I like to refer to them as “Old Lady Stores”.) They had small restaurants and a bistro, no major chains like Chili’s, Applebees, etc (at least none that I saw). So really it is a neat quaint little town, and was refreshing when living in one of the top 10 largest cities in America.
The lodge itself is very subdued compared to other lodges in the area; it is a stand alone red brick building that looks like an old school house of sorts. The building was built in 1969, 146 years after the lodge was chartered. The lodge itself boosts a rich history of military heroes from the civil war on up to today. It also adapted the phrase “Bravest of the Brave” in reference to the Black Horse Calvary which many of its early members were apart of. Its current membership seemed slightly older than other lodges I have visited (all three of them), but I think that is expected of a smaller town, mainly full of retirees. The lodge is much like my mother lodge has a banquet hall downstairs and the lodge room upstairs. Another interesting fact is that the brethren bring their wives that sit downstairs during business but then prepare the cake and ice cream after the meeting. Everyone was in dark suits (I always wear a suit to blue lodge meetings, because you never know and I am under the philosophy that it’s better to overdress than underdressed). I quickly realized that this was a much different lodge than the one I visited in New Mexico. The ridgedness of this lodge brought me a sense of comfort, but I have to wonder if its ridgedness may deter new members. They examined me, by examination it was long, not a quick flash of the dues card and my Texas drivers license. It was lots of secret handshakes and signs, more than I expected. It didn’t help that the potentate from the Shrine was there for his quarterly visit. Some members confided in me that there was annoyance as his visit is seen more as a recruiting gimmick than an actual “keeping ties to the blue lodge” as was its stated purpose. At least the guy stayed for the stated meeting and afterwards to talk to the brothers. Our potentate showed up to lodge to drop off a stack of petitions to the shrine and ran out the back door. So really, I think that the potentates visit was a good thing.
The stated meeting was actually interesting as the brethren where discussing a rather controversial topic within the lodge. It reminded me of the conversations we would have in our lodge about the dreaded roof. No degree tonight, unfortunately, still I am one of those sick individuals that enjoys opening and closing of the lodge, and to see how other lodges do it, they didn’t disappoint and did it in true form. After the stated meeting I talked to a few of the brothers, all of which would explain to me their six degrees of separation from Texas (everyone does this, btw).
Was it what I was expecting? Not really, but there were brothers still the same, and it was nice to engage in the work with them. I look forward to having fellowship in the future if it works out.