Saturday, January 18, 2014

Winter is Coming

It is with heavy heart that I begin to even write this post, but by my less frequent writing anyone who may still even pay attention to this blog would surely know that my time with the fraternity has been coming to a close.


My journey was like a glorious sunrise that seemed to take forever and then the day begins and the magic is gone. When I think about all of the time I dedicated to the craft and to my brothers and I cant help but be proud of what I accomplished and the lives I touched and be thankful of the men who helped and nurtured me. Like everything I have done in my life I would not change a single second of it for anything. 
My being needed something to unlock the man hidden in an overgrown boy and Freemasonry held the key. It is crystal clear to me now and easy to admit that even the cataclysmic end to my time in lodge was just as important to my psyche as its stupendous rise. Maybe even more so.
Before the two defeats of election of my peers, my entire life revolved around my lodge. It decided my free time. It decided my alone time. And more often than not, it seeped into the time that I should have dedicated to my family. I don't say this with regret because it is what my soul needed to get me through what I went through, but as I have now evolved I can see now that it took a lot.
It is the internal not the external
I have a very good job now that without Freemasonry's teaching of meeting people on the level I could never have held or been successful at. My time in the craft gave me the confidence to meet with any man or woman no matter what their title or stature and not give them reverence due simply because of their title or position. I only give respect to those who are deserving of my respect and I am not shy in dong so. My defeat taught me to not hold myself too high either. It was just at the time that I started to think about my legacy that I was taught a valuable lesson on humility.
Stand before us an upright mason
Dealing with politics and different people with strong beliefs can harden a man. One of the greatest things I took away from my regular attendance at lodge was a sense of self confidence and practice at it that changed me in a very good way. Even though I was always outgoing and confident, holding different positions in the lodge and dealing with traveling dignitaries strengthened my spine and made me walk with my head held high knowing that when you know what you are talking about you can talk with anyone.

Recently I joined a new organization that has taken up my nights, but unlike lodge, playing Ice Hockey only takes me away for a couple hours and happens very late at night when my family is fast asleep. A nice side effect of this organization is weight loss and aggression venting. The only downside is that my knees are starting to really hurt...
I have not handed in a demit but I have no urge to sit in a lodge and have serious issues in handing over my dues for something I don't participate in. 



Saturday, September 7, 2013

Merge.....err

I have been dreaming allot about Masonry lately. Not the starry eyed what can I do for the fraternity kind, but odd, out of place, what are you guys doing kind. They revolved around me going to a lodge, my lodge or another, me walking about as usual meeting and greeting and being happy to see my brothers and feeling good; then something happens and I start thinking to myself what the heck am I doing here...they haven't been good dreams.
When I was younger I always had dreams that revolved around me going to school and not being able to find my locker before class or not being able to get to my class from my locker. I was always searching and late and not feeling good about what was happening. Those dreams haunted me. I would wake up with a horrible feeling of not being able to do what I wanted and was capable of doing.
These dreams followed me through my years in school, in the Navy, after the Navy, and into adulthood. Perhaps a reader or Brother with knowledge into the meaning of dreams could delve deeper into my mind but from what I can figure out myself with my high school/military education and experience is that my soul is desiring something that is so close but so far away...
Back to Masonry.
In the spring of this year I enjoyed a couple of visits and degrees that I had decided to go to, or had the honor of being invited to that had me feeling a small bit of Masonic renewal in myself that had been long gone. In my own thoughts I thought of myself having a Masonic Spring. I had great boosts of confidence and wonderful rekindling or cementing of relationships I have had through my travels as a Freemason. But they were fleeting. In my ever growing panoply of real and work life events that I encountered, the Masonic ones seemed trivial in comparison.
The majority of my Masonic interaction strictly revolved around Masonry and when that level of familiarity was pressed to a different one it rarely resulted in an evolution. To put it simply, I found it hard to talk to my Brothers that I had grown in the order to talk of anything other than the craft. My Masonic friends were not my friends outside of masonry and when I tried to elevate that friendship 9 times out of 10 it stayed strictly Masonic.
That makes me sad.
Don't get me wrong. I have made a number of lifelong friendships within the fraternity, but I have also through this blog and a lot of travelling, met a voluminous amount of Masons yet the R.O.I. has not come near the expenditures.
So where the heck am I going with this?
I don't know.
I wear my ring every day or at least have it in my little jeans pocket.
I still am drawn to any lodge building or story about Freemasonry, no matter where I am.
I am paid up in my dues and am considered a Brother, but I cannot imagine dedicating the amount of time that I had in the past to my pursuit. Mostly because my family and job require that time and both have an exponentially higher R.O.I.
What does any of this have to do with the title to my post?
I stepped into my mother lodge, "Old St. Johns", for the first time since my failed attempt at returning to the East to hear what a joint committee on consolidation of the two local lodges had produced. I saw some very dear old Brothers and friends, along with others who were not so dear but brothers none the less.
One of the men there, who I hold in the highest regard and fondness, has reached the epitome of what it is I was striving for. Due to life's demands I had not been able to congratulate him in person and I was very glad to see him and give him my esteem. To tell the truth, he was the real reason I came to the meeting because I knew he would be there and I knew it would be one of the only times I could give him my reverence due.
None the less, I listened attentively to the findings and politely yet vociferously stated my opinion along with some other very passionate opinions by members of my lodge.
Unbelievably, yet not really, the ones who lingered after this very pivotal, historical meeting to talk were not members of the lodges involved, but the visitors... and I, save the brother who waited for us to leave and lock up and one other Brother...my mentor.
I had not seen or talked to him since my "downfall" and he politely waited outside to say goodbye. We did have some curt conversation to catch up but had not really talked earlier. As I walked out with others he interjected himself into the conversation and we caught up.  I was glad for the conversation but it ended all others and we all left for home.
The end result of it is that my mother lodge, two years short of reaching 250 years on its original charter, is merging with a lodge that sprang from it and turning into something new. I have mixed feelings about the whole thing because I had no idea before that meeting that we would have to surrender our original charter as a result of the merger, no matter how much the consolidation was needed.
I was not at the final meeting for the vote.
It was unanimous...
Adieu SJ6..............



Tuesday, April 9, 2013

To Be Listed Among Those Names...

One of the biggest allures to Freemasonry is the long list of world changing men whose names adorn the halls of lodges and numerous websites as being members of the worlds largest fraternity at one time or another. I wont rehash the list or even give a highlight reel, cause we have all seen it or used it as question fodder for Masonic Jeopardy night, but often I find myself confronted with one of these profound men who I used to use in my welcome to the fraternity Entered Apprentice speech, today was one of those days.
Samuel Langhorn Clemens was at one time the most famous of all Americans. He is quoted as saying "I am not just an American, I am THE American." He received his degrees at Polar Star Lodge No. 79 in St. Louis Missouri and is on most every list of famous Freemasons. Today I was lucky enough to have spent the day with my daughter and her 4th grade class on a field trip to his amazing house in Hartford Connecticut. He lived there for what he called the happiest years of his life from 1874-1891, raised his family there and wrote some of his most famous books there.
I was absolutely thrilled to be in the same place where such an iconic man had lived and must admit as I walked up the grand three story staircase in the heart of the mansion and was allowed to touch the banister on the way up (about the only thing you are alowed to) I tried to absorb as much mojo as possible from whatever infinitesimal matter was left on it from one of the most amazing and influential writers of all time. I have been in such a horrible writing funk that I need ancient magic to get my creative juices flowing again. Anyways, the tour was fantastic and I admonish all that live in the area to make the trip but I digress.
Like usual I hit Google afterwards to soak up as much useless information as possible about my long dead brother. Unfortunately, like many men on the famous Freemason list, his stint in the order was short lived. He went through the Masonic degrees in a flurry in 1861 did not do much else in the craft and then demitted in 1868. Curiously enough on his trip to the holy land that spawned his first best seller Innocents Abroadhe cut down a cedar tree outside the walls of Jerusalem and had a gavel made of it that he presented to his mother lodge just shortly before he ended his Masonic career...a parting gift?
As I have gone through my struggles with the order...or my lodge... or whatever I have received so many thoughtful emails and comments and calls from brothers from all over this once great nation that I finally sent that check to my mother lodge to keep me in good standing. As one good friend and brother I talked to about my struggles said to me as I questioned my paying up and keeping in good standing "you will always be my friend but I hope that I will continue to call you brother." While that may sound contrite to some, like I would not be his brother anymore if I didn't send my check in, it was a very honest request that I keep in the mainstream so he would not have to violate his obligation to call me brother resonated with me. So here I am.
I leave you with a quote from Brother Samuel.
"We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it - and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again, and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore."

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Polarizing Light

Pure Light Radiates Everywhere.

The star your eye sees as a tiny speck of light in the nighttime sky is just the tiniest, infinitesimal fraction of the original radiance that occurred in every direction in a fusion reaction that happened in some unfathomable distance away from your visual cortex.
Think about that. Its like a hurricane blowing away a beach and you getting hit with one grain of sand on the opposite side of the world. You will never understand the beauty of the whole beach from the microscopic piece that hit you. Yet somehow we do.
Now take something that is semi transparent and block the light.
Light, if my rudimentary understanding of physics is correct, is an electromagnetic wave that travels everywhere. When an object is placed in between the source and our receptor it does not just get blocked completely but our ability to sense it does. This is an arbitrary loss of sense.
A piece of red glass does not change the pure light to red it limits what part of the light we see.
Light is unchanging.
Are you following yet?
Like a star, we beings of dust on this tiny rock in the universe, have the ability to radiate light.
Out of nothing we can create something.
That, is pure power.
Our thoughts and actions are sent out like light waves in all directions, to be received or not, but regardless if they happen to hit a sentient receiver, they exist.
When our waves of light are received by someone without a filter of prejudice or history or tradition they have the ability to resonate with that being and that light is given fully to another.
But we all have filters and lenses that polarize light.
How do we remove these things that change the way we see light that is emanated?
Its not easy.
First we must understand that we are all creators of light. No matter where it comes from it has the ability to bring something new to where something was not.
Second we must remove the filters that make us see the light in a different shade and recognize that polarized light is not what was originated from the source. It is and will always be pure and radiant.
And thirdly if we can, we must find what that light was originally intended to bring out of darkness because pure light radiates everywhere and illuminates.

The red light you see is only from a polarizing filter that is in between you and pure light.






Friday, January 11, 2013

Mandatory Proficiency, Edicts and Free?masonry

What do we do?
What can we do?
We have to do something...

What came first the Freemason or the ritual that made him?
The ritual.
How so?
It is what separates us from the other animal or benefit clubs.
Then why is the ritual different in every jurisdiction and not universal...we are the universal brotherhood?
It is close enough...its not about the ritual anyway...
Why is the ritual different within every jurisdiction?
Stop asking questions and memorize your ritual.

Free.......

So here we are, in a light speed age of information where the most mundane facts and nuggets of knowledge are readily accessible with the slightest swish of a finger tip by any human and we come to the realization that we have an ancient order with readily accessible secrets and a stagnating or dwindling number of men who wish to become or stay a member of our fraternity. In a number of meetings and discussions it becomes apparent that the Craft needs to change its ways or die.

What do we change?
Ohhh that old rule that you have to go through the initiation yourself and take your time to learn what it is to be a member...the kids now a days want things fast, in an instant even. Let's do it all in a day. Come in in the morning, give a check, sit in a theater and watch the whole thing and walk out with a membership card...ohhh they'll come in in droves.

So what did we learn? The type of man who wants things in an instant is not the type of man we need to bring back the glory days of the Craft.

Back to the trestleboard.

I got it, I got it!! It's that other silly old rule that we don't recruit or ask men to join...that's our problem. The young guys out there just don't know what we are about. Let's do fancy advertising campaigns and while we are at it, let's throw open our doors and let them in to see what we are all about...that'll bring them in to stay...

Books, blogs, websites, commercials, movies and open houses brought them in finally, but like before many of those who came to knock on the West Gate came out of curiosity and not a deep desire to change their beings from a rough ashlar to the perfect stone capable of building upon. Making yourself a better man was the original promise wasn't it?

That was it! Ohhh we got a bunch of guys now and they are coming to the meetings but they keep on asking questions and frankly I don't know how to answer them. How do we keep them from straying? They have so many options out there and I am not quite sure that we are delivering on the promise of what we advertised. They are looking for Benjamin Franklin while we are sitting around Colonel Sanders...What makes us different???
The RITUAL!
Yeah! You are right. That is what separates us, it is the ritual of becoming a Master Mason that makes us the greatest fraternity in the world. We need to stress that it is important to learn the ritual and what it is to be a Freemason. Education is what they are after. Let's give it to them!

With the renewed interest in Freemasonry, and for the first time in a long time a slight uptick in men joining, it became imperative, that the Freemasonry that was in the commercials and banners was what was experienced in the lodge room and Masonic Education was inculcated. But what education was brought to the eager or curious minds? Deep thought? Insight into the common and universal plight of a boy into manhood? Not usually. We dragged out the extended edition directors cut of Freemason lectures to men who didn't even read the book.

They are not staying! What are we doing wrong? Isn't it that old school stuff they were after?...We gave it to them?
Who gave it to them?
Ohhh you're right! And when you are right you are right and brother you are right! The guys that were educating were not educated enough to give the education. We need guidelines and stricter controls of who and how the new young guys get the Masonic experience. Let's certify that every man who is leading a lodge can deliver the goods...but how do we test them? It is not something easily defined that separates those special brothers that can keep 'em listening...I got it!
Philosophy? Esoterica? 7 liberal arts and sciences? I cant imagine how we can test the modern masonic leader to insure that we create a healthy fraternity?
Ritual.
Ritual?? I'm not so sure...it is not even something that is exactly standard in our small jurisdiction. 
Listen, hidden in our ritual is the deep stuff that these new guys are seeking. If we can ensure that every new man in the order receives the standard ritual in the way it is in our book at least we know they are getting something that they are after... They want this esoteric stuff and if we give it to them good they will stay...right?

So here we are in one of the worlds oldest fraternities. Once the ground-spring for development and change in the entire planet and a blueprint for how an educated society of equals can survive and prosper and we find ourselves forcing men to deliver empty words perfectly to curious minds who may or may not listen to those words and more often than not take the words themselves for granted.
I have said this numerous times and in countless ways.
Freemasonry needs men who are looking for something better and it can deliver.
Perfect ritual performed by someone who doesn't even really know your name or who you are, can not deliver the initiatic and deeply spiritual things that are hidden within its veils.
The ritual is not in itself the thing that can save our fraternity.
Nor is camaraderie.
Nor is a fancy lodge room.
I go back to an old description of the Order I joined and seek everyday.


Freemasonry is a peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.


And that is all that it is...

Think about that my brothers, ponder that description, take that building block and make a temple.


Eureka! We have much work to do...



Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Unmentionable Spector



This has and will always be a personal blog about my journey into and around Freemasonry, albeit a somewhat anonymous one. I have always been candid and frank about most of my experiences. I have written things that I probably should not have and have held back some things that I should more than once.
Apart from some minor posts in the last year my writing has all but dried up like so many other Masonic bloggers around what was once a very exciting and vibrant group of like minded individuals.
For me the muse that once fed my fervent prose has gone.
Like many men before me, I was a seeker of light and discovered the ancient fraternity out of a combination of deep need and heady research. There are many outlets available for a man to dedicate his time and energy to and my spirit was drawn, like a moth to flame, to a brotherhood represented by two builders tools locked in an iconic embrace.
I have stated numerous times and in way too many ways on this site of what I found when I approached and passed through the West Gate on my way to the East. I dove in head first following my heart and the providence that led me to the ancient craft. Like an infatuated youth the order held my thoughts every waking minute and my dreams at night. In retrospect I am ashamed at how much of my energy and valuable thoughts were taken away from my precious wife and children by my devotion to Freemasonry, but that is how my personality is, I do not do anything half way.
So where am I, you might ask.
Well, last spring I finally got a job equal to my skills after a long drought of layoffs and part time work. My new job has eaten up allot of my time and energy but at least I am getting paid well for it. Masonicly I have not stepped foot in my lodge for over a year now. I have kept up with what has been going on there but the last time I was at lodge it was made crystal clear to me that what I had tried to do was not wanted or appreciated. I had attempted to demit but was talked out of it and have questioned my decision ever since. My thoughts and ideas of what lodge I would like to belong to has completely changed and my old lodge fits none of them.
Others who followed me in the idea of a "different kind of lodge" have also dropped off and although I had nothing to do with anyone's decision directly, the blame has been laid at my feet. In fact at the most recent election (of which I could not attend because I was hundreds of miles away at work nor any intention of going to anyway) the rumor that was murmured around the room was that I was going to show up out of nowhere and "start some trouble," like some phantom menace....Oh my god I am Voldemort!
Just hearing of what has been said in my absence hurts me to the core and the idea of what was accomplished in the five years of my dedication to a positive idea as being labeled "trouble," has led me to believe that my continued support of men who do not want it is unwarranted.
Under my Grand Lodges rules and regulations a brother may demit form his lodge if his dues are paid in full. I would then receive a certificate of demit which would make me a kind of unsigned Freemason free agent. The ramifications of this decision are heavy especially since I am not a member of another lodge and my "regularity" would be in question. I don't know what to do, but I no longer belong to the group of men who I called brother for so long...at least not all of them.
Over the past year I have received numerous calls and emails from the readers of this blog that have lifted my spirit and cemented my decision in joining Freemasonry in the first place. If it weren't for you, or this work of love, I may well have just given up on the craft altogether. I still wear my ring although lately I have gone days without taking it out of the small jeans pocket where it resides when not on my finger.
My questions still linger. My spirit has taken quite a blow.
There is much work to be done.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Lonely Esoteric

The Craft gather,
the spirit is up.
They share a meal,
they share a cup.
Camaraderie and fellowship
is everywhere,
yet the deeper meanings
are lost.

The gavel cracks on stone,
get to your seat.
The purging and Tileing
and opening greet.
The Wardens the Deacons
are doing their jobs,
but the words fall on
deaf ears.

We do what we do
'cause its always been done.
The ritual the language
for some are not fun.
But silently, the one who knows and learns
absorbs everything said and performed.
The Lonely Esoteric.

Everything has a reason
to most it's just lost..
Every sound, every motion
are friverously tossed
Round the secret closed room like
some silly old play without a
worthy director.

Was it ever understood,
or just simply hummed?
Like a familiar old tune
with words that were dumbed.
So that more could learn it and
spread it around and not even know
what they're singing.

Perhaps

Or maybe it's structure
was carefully decided.
To carefully conceal it
from ones we should hide it.
And gather stray seekers one spark at a time
who will see it
for what it is worth.

A strange ancient beacon
with knowledge just hidden.
For some small groups of men
to great things are always bidden
like a bird to a flower
that hides its sweet
nectar.

Then one after one
after disappointment and trial.
Gather themselves together
Regardless the mile,
of distance they traveled
and create a smoldering
fire.

Be not lonely esoteric,
just be patient and true.
For your comrades are waiting
to come and join you.
They are lost and wondering
and hungry for more learning and just need
a good place to gather.