Archive for the Masonic Insights Category

Why I Don’t Hate you…

Posted in Friends and Family, Masonic Insights, Reflections on February 1, 2017 by Verge

I’m in Houston for 10 days.  I’ve never been to Texas.  I’ve never needed or wanted to go to Texas, but here I am.  I’ve nothing against this state or the people that live in it.  I guess some people from “the North” might think that it’s some kind of terrible “South” state where hate is everywhere.

I’ve yet to had even a sliver of hatred pointed at me.  Me, part of a group of outsiders that have literally invaded their city for two or three weeks.

Over the last few years, I’ve never weighed in on what’s going on in our country, either on my blog, or on Twitter, or especially on Facebook.  I’ve kept my opinions to myself and my close friends, my wife, my family (who I most often disagree with).  I haven’t put out ultimatums to my contacts to “unfriend” me if they don’t agree with me.  Perhaps they unfriended me, but the digital friends that they were, I didn’t notice.

I’ve been a Freemason for a long time.  I’m a brother to all of them.  I don’t hate them, I don’t love them, necessarily, but I am their brother because that is a necessity.  Without a doubt, the most important thing I’ve learned is so simple it’s absurd.  We don’t ever talk about religion.  And we most certainly don’t talk about politics.  Those of you who know me well might find it hypocritical that I was the Chaplain of my Lodge for three years, but my brothers always appreciate my words.

Now, I find myself in an awkward place, both physically and in history. I don’t know what will happen this week, this year, this term, or ever.

Tonight, on my way home from a staff party late in Houston, I encountered a woman who just wanted to get back to her hotel, but couldn’t find her way, and just wanted someone, anyone, to help her.  A friend and I went out of our way to walk her back to her hotel so she was safe.  I’m not asking for a medal.   What I am saying is that I didn’t care about who she voted for, or if she went to church, and she certainly didn’t ask those questions of us.  We helped her because she is a human being .  She’ll forget our names tomorrow, but she won’t forget the help that we gave her.

I don’t care about your political or religious beliefs.  If you’re not willing to be human, and be a decent person to others, than you truly are no “friend” of mine.

The Birth of Rising Sun Lodge

Posted in Masonic Insights with tags on May 5, 2010 by Verge

Tonight was the inaugural communication (first meeting) of the largest masonic lodge in the state of New Jersey.  It was formed from three former Lodges who surrendered their charters last week at the Grand Lodge communication in Atlantic City.  Its first gathering was held, and will continue to be held at the masonic building near the speedline in downtown Haddonfield.

There are a handful of elected officers in the “line,” the hierarchy of the Master, Wardens and Deacons.  Then there are appointed offices, of which I have been appointed Chaplain.  I’ve served as Chaplain in my former Lodge, and now have the honor of being in the officers’ line in the very first year of the new Lodge.

My old Lodge was 100 years old.  The other two that merged with ours were nearly as old as well.  It really is an amazing honor to be part of the foundation of a new Lodge, the newest, the largest and hopefully the longest lasting fraternity of masonic brothers currently in this state.

I am especially delighted that I’m the Chaplain.  People who know me may wonder how the hell I became the spiritual direction of my fraternity.  But I see my appointment as a testament to how masonry works.  I’ve always explored different disciplines, theologies, philosophies…and though I’ve never completely settled on a single one, I can always find some facet of each that has value.  Masonry doesn’t care what you believe, only that you are in awe of something.  I certainly am, and think I can express that in as much a universal way as anyone can.

On Being a Masonic Officer

Posted in Masonic Insights, Reflections on December 3, 2009 by Verge

Tonight, I was installed as the Junior Master of Ceremonies in my Masonic Lodge.  My wife was there with me, which is a rarity in any Masonic Lodge, as they are usually closed to non-masons.  Once a year, at the discretion of our Master, we hold our annual installation of officers in a “public” fashion, thereby allowing our friends and loved ones to share in our pride and honor of being a part of this fraternal organization.

It’s not a secret to my friends or family that I’m a mason.  And, I will freely talk about it when I’m asked.  I can answer most questions, and when a specific question arises that I cannot directly answer, it’s regretful that it piques curiosity because it is usually such a mundane little idiosyncrasy that it hardly deserves inquiry.

The most often pondered question that arises with my wife, my best friend, and my family, is “why do you do it?”  I’ll admit, sometimes I bitch about having to attend a masonic obligation.  Sometimes I legitimately cannot attend.  Sometimes, I don’t attend because I don’t feel like the fun I will have with my brethren will outweigh the fun I will have with my wife and friends.  Sometimes I’d rather sleep, or do a shot, or watch a movie, or clean my house and fold laundry.

But, this year, I could have easily walked away from my responsibilities with my Lodge.  I’m newly married.  I’m working hard to advance in my career.  I’m in a working cover band that is learning new songs all the time, and playing several shows a week at this point (and hopefully continuing in the new year).  Another responsibility, one that requires at least one night a week, could easily have been denied with no shame.  I did not turn away from the challenge, but instead, chose to take on a higher responsibility in my Lodge than was required of me.

My best friend has asked, as have I, “what do I get out of the effort and time I put in?”  What he wants to hear is that I can speed and never get a ticket, or break the law and never worry, or get discounts where others cannot, or have access that others do not.  Well, it’s not exactly that way at all.  Is it possible?  Well, I can’t deny that it is.  It’s no different than any other “perks” someone might receive from knowing a police officer, or a restaurant owner, or a lawyer.

The perks are never what you expect.  I have taken on a responsibility of helping new masons learn.  That, to me, is extremely satisfying.  I have always enjoyed teaching in general;  in all its forms, it is a great satisfaction to help another individual in need to finally learn, to understand and to grasp knowledge that you have imparted to them.  My bonus is this:  I’ve got a unique, often unusual, skeptical and alternative view of what so-called “normal” people believe is universal.  This, to my delight, is a viewpoint that I take a particular pleasure in sharing with my brethren.

I think they appreciate it, as well.  That is the perk for me.  In masonry, you cannot challenge someone politically or religiously, and you always respect your brother, no matter the differences.  The opportunities in the loopholes for me to inject some of my own weird impression of our world gets me off…it really does, especially when I see someone walk away nodding their head like “shit, that makes a whole lot more sense than what I believed was reality.”

That perk alone doesn’t keep me going to meetings, or rituals or communications, though.  So, what is it?  Well, I’m still in my infancy of masonry, but I have my theories.  It’s the ritual.  The masonic degrees, for those of you unschooled, are basically plays, performed live in front of an audience.   I love to do that already.  It involves memorization to a great degree.  That is what I have to do every time I learn a new song for my cover band.  It involves acting out, and I have no problem being a showman when it’s appropriate.  It involves impressing great gravity, and I think my seriousness lends itself to that task.

Most of all, it involves brotherhood.  I may not be the best of friends with my Lodge brothers.  I may not attend Lodge functions as often as they do.  I may not agree with them on any number of subjects.  But one thing remains that masonry undeniably can teach us.   That the one thing we all share undeniably is our bare humanness.  We all make mistakes, none of us can be perfect to all people all of the time, and that, in the end, we will all ultimately answer to our fate, whatever that may be.

What keeps me going is that undeniable awareness that we are all nothing, and that sharing in that nothingness turns it into, at the very least, something we can share with awe and reverence.

–~r

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