A note from Mike: This is a continuation of the story that began last post. If you missed it click here.
It had been several weeks since John attended The Perfect Lodge Meeting but the thoughts of the experience came to mind as entered he the Lodge building of his friend and brother Mason Ted. Ted had invited John to attend degree work for Ted’s nephew Jack who was to receive his Entered Apprentice degree.
John had attended Ted’s lodge before so he knew that the degree work of the Lodge was usually proficient, but the entire degree experience somehow lacked the dramatic atmosphere that John was used to at his own lodge. Nonetheless, John was looking forward to the evening.
John recognized several Brothers he knew so he circulated through the room saying hello and also introducing himself to the Brethren he had not met. Among the Brethren were several present and past District Deputy Grand Masters and one current grand lodge officer. His friend Ted was a Past DDGM and had invited many he had met while serving his three year term.
The Lodge’s Master, Tom Calvin, headed for the East so everyone, sensing he was about to open, found seats. This was the third time Tom had served as Master. The dwindling membership of the Lodge made it difficult to find those willing to serve as officers so Past Masters such as Tom had been stepping in to fill the void.
“Good evening Brethren,” Tom began. “Before we get started I have a favor to ask. We need to fill a few holes in our stations. Would someone on the sidelines be willing to serve this evening as Senior Warden? I’m not sure why but our Sr. Warden isn’t here. I guess we need a Senior Deacon as well, thank you Brother Secretary for noticing that.”
John was a little startled by admission that the Master didn’t know why he didn’t have a Senior Warden and that he hadn’t noticed at all that the Senior Deacon’s position was unfilled as well. He thought it was a little sad that one of the most important events in the candidate’s Masonic life was about to begin and little or no thought had been given to whether there was going to be enough Brothers to fill the stations.
In John’s lodge the entire year had been meticulously planned. Each officer had been given a calendar of meeting dates, including potential specials for degrees, and asked to identify as best as possible, potential conflicts. At the officer’s meeting at the beginning of each month, each officer reported what dates they had conflicts and announced the Brother they had asked to fill in for them. The Master also confirmed with each officer their attendance one week prior to each special degree meeting. This ensured that all stations were filled.
Luckily, two officers from another Lodge were in attendance and agreed to fill the stations. The Master proceeded in opening Lodge and during the opening John noticed two of the PDDGM’s continued to talk and at times laugh at something they were discussing. John was glad this didn’t happen at his lodge. At his Lodge, prior to opening, the Master reminds the Brethren of the importance of the degree experience and that unnecessary talking detracts from the beauty of the degree. He asks those in attendance to remember that silence and circumspection are to be practiced.
The Master rapped the gavel, announced the purpose of the meeting, rapped up the Sr. and Jr. Stewards and the degree began.
As the Stewards left to prepare the candidate, John noticed that one was wearing slacks and a golf shirt. The other had on a tie but no jacket and his apron was on a little crooked. John cringed because he was accustomed to the strict dress code adopted at his Lodge for degree work. The officers were either all in tuxes or all in dark suits; no exceptions.
This was a part of “The Excellence of the Degree” manual that was used to ensure that all degree work was performed at the highest level and uniformity of dress was an important aspect. The manual also called for a “walk-through” of the degree prior to its presentation to ensure that each officer was comfortable with their part. The Entered Apprentice degree was considered of utmost importance as it was the first impression the Lodge makes on a candidate and John’s Lodge strived for perfection in all degrees but especially the EA.
The degree, lecture and charge concluded and as the Master left the East to congratulate the newly initiated Entered Apprentice, John thought to himself that the experience had been uninspiring. There had been too much prompting, parts that were delivered with no voice inflection or enthusiasm and finally someone read the charge; not very well to boot.
Worshipful Master Calvin handed the degree booklet and a divided ritual to the new Brother and said, “Here is a booklet you can read and the ritual is in code so we will need to find someone to help you learn it. You’ll need to memorize it before you can get your Fellowcraft degree.”
In John’s Lodge careful attention was paid to the instructions given to a new Brother. It was done by the Lodge Education Officer and had been carefully thought out. It reinforced the significant of the duties the Brother had just assumed and impressed upon him that the work of the degree had only just begun. The assignment of a mentor was an extremely important decision and each new Brother’s mentor had been carefully chosen. This Brother would council the new Brother throughout the remaining degrees and helps direct him in preparing his personal improvement and life plan. The Lodge mentors also were a source for recognizing potential Lodge officers and offering training for those with the desire to lead.
As the Lodge was being closed the Brothers had already started talking among themselves and no one thought to instruct the new Brother what was taking place. Once the meeting was closed the Master said, “Thanks Brothers for attending and our Stewards both had to work so they didn’t have time to pick up refreshments, so I guess that’s it for the evening.”
John went to talk with the Master about something that was on his mind. After the discussion he thanked his friend Ted and congratulated Jack on beginning his journey to become a Mason. John then surprised both Ted and Jack by saying the Master had agreed to let John become Jack’s mentor even if he did belong to another Lodge.
“Masonry is not about joining a particular Lodge; it’s about taking Masonry’s lessons and using them to honor your God, become a better man, a better provider for your family, and a contributor to your community. A good friend and Brother once told me that Masonry is not something you just join, it is something you become. Part of my duty Jack, as a Mason, is to help you become Masonry.”
John thought as he drove home maybe this “Not So Perfect Lodge Meeting” would turn out something perfect after all. He made a mental note to call Jack and set up their first meeting.
Next: John meets with Jack and asks a startling question.