John Grogan chuckled at the comments he received when he came to work wearing a suit and tie. The IT company where he worked had long ago adopted a casual dress code so anyone wearing clothes that gave the appearance of “dressing up” brought good-natured kidding.
John didn’t care because tonight was his Masonic Lodge meeting and his dress was very appropriate for the affair. There wasn’t time to dress one way for work, get home, change and then make it to the restaurant in time for the beginning of the meeting. And besides, the suit made him feel special and he actually found that on Lodge meeting days his attitude improved just because he looked, well…, gentlemanly.
John’s Lodge began their meeting at a local restaurant. They had long ago decided that a well-planned “Festive Board” created the atmosphere of Brotherly Love that was so essential to a successful Lodge. Besides the great food it allowed planned time for the Brethren to get to know each other, learn from each other and most importantly, laugh with each other.
It took several minutes for JT, the Master of Ceremonies, to get the Brethren calmed down so he could welcome everyone to the meeting. JT, a relatively new Mason, was appointed the MC after it was discovered that he a great talent for entertaining. His winning smile and jokes that sometime made everyone groan, left everyone laughing and wondering what he would come up with at the next meeting.
Tonight was no exception as he opened with the question; “How many Masons does it take to screw in a light bulb?” He had perfect timing as a comedian and his answer came before anyone could open their mouth’ “Twenty five; twenty four to serve on the committee to decide whether it should be changed, and one to actually change it.” The groans were loud and long but the effect was achieved; this was an enjoyable place to be.
As everyone was finishing their dinner and drinks, JT rose, thanked everyone for coming and announced that Lodge would opened in approximately ½ hour. The educational topic would be a paper presented by Brother Sanders entitled “Using Masonry for Personal Improvement” followed by open dialogue.
The opening of Lodge was as elegant as it was simple. The officers assumed their stations with a solemn procession in a silent, candle-lit lodge room with soft, inspiring music playing. Once the officers reached their stations the period of reflection began. Each Brother was left to his own thoughts as the music continued, ended and then a short period of complete silence was observed.
The Master then opened lodge with each officer responding in a clear and serious manner, loud enough for everyone to hear but in a tone that conveyed the meaning and importance of the Masonic experience to come. The Brethren on the sidelines listened knowing silence and circumspection is an important part of Masonry.
The business matters necessary for the operation of lodge had been included in a “consent agenda” which was previously distributed to all members. This allows the Lodge to approve all items on this agenda with one motion unless a Brother requests that a particular item be presented, discussed and voted on separately. All matters regarding petitions and reports on petitions were handled individually. This particular evening there were no petitions or separate items so the consent agenda was improved and the business of the Lodge was handled in less than five minutes.
John and the Brethren listened intently as Brother Sanders presented his paper on personal improvement. Brother Sanders had recently received his Entered Apprentice degree and his paper was a required topic for every EA. The open dialogue that followed produced several useful techniques for preparing, executing and continuing a plan of personal improvement. John made note of several things he needed to review or add to his own plan. Every member has a plan; it was a requirement of the Lodge.
Each Lodge member devised a plan for personal improvement, maintained it and periodically reported their progress. The Lodge had written a template for use to devise the plan and had appointed several knowledgeable Brothers whose responsibility it was to assist each new EA. Through the degrees these Brothers would support, encourage and help after each degree to add items to your plan. After you were raised a Master Mason your plan would be finalized and you began full implementation by using the lessons of the degrees in support of your life goals, objectives and action plans.
Master Masons were then asked to become mentors for new EAs. Which, as John knew, kept each Brother accountable to his own plan as well as ensuring those men, who sought to improve their lives by Masonry, were given the proper tools.
Seeing the time for closing the Lodge approaching the Master concluded the paper presentation by congratulating Brother Sanders and thanking all Brothers for their input.
As was tradition in John’s Lodge, the Master called on one Brother at random prior to closing and asked him one question; “Brother, why are you a Mason?” In answering the question a Brother was to stand and give his Masonic Purpose Statement which he had developed as part of his personal improvement program.
“I am a Mason because I recognize that no man should live his life in a random manner. He should be guided by a plan that honors his God, supports his neighbor and provides improvement for him daily. Masonry has provided this plan for me and I will live in pursuit of knowledge and understanding for the purpose of providing for my family, supporting my Masonic Brethren, and improving my community. My continued hope is that I live respected and die regretted.”
The Lodge was closed with the same elegance and dignity with which it began.
As John drove home he was elated, inspired, refreshed and truly thankful he had become a Mason. He was so grateful he belonged to a Lodge that practiced Masonry.