Sunday, December 23, 2007

Perfect Ashlars

Basking in the glow of my newborn child or foggy sleep deprived haze depending on which way you want to characterize it, I ponder at the idea of the perfect ashlar.

We are taught as masons that man is like a rough ashlar of stone. A rough ashlar, for non-masons, is a stone brought from the quarry that still has rough edges and needs to be cleaned up and fitted for building purposes.

The rough ashlar, through much work with the working tools of masonry, becomes the perfect ashlar to be used in the building of the celestial temple.

I rather like this symbol used by the craft to help the brethren visualise perfecting themselves. It is quite true that I am continually chipping away at the rough ashlar of my being to expose the perfect ashlar that lies underneath the surface.

This symbol has much meaning to me because I love to carve stone into art. I had carved little wooden figurines with my Swiss army knife on my front porch as a kid and loved creating things out of wood. I had even started to carve an Arthurian chess set based upon the characters of Mary Stewart's Merlin trilogy of books but never finished due to the amount of pieces needed and my teenage laziness. I took a carving class none the less, and found I could create in stone just like I created in wood just with a set of different tools but much of the same talent. I loved carving stone and was often found in the art studio skipping other classes to work on my pieces.

Stone carving requires vision and patience. You need to see what you can make out of the rock and the patience to chip away a little at a time to get to that vision. It takes much more work to carve stone than wood. That is why I can really buy into the ashlar symbology of Freemasonry. A man has to slowly chip away the vices and superfluities of life to fit his ashlar into that house not made with hands eternal in the heavens. I really love that allegory but it brings me to the point of this post.

The rough ashlar is a great symbol of an adult man, but sitting here on a lazy Sunday afternoon looking at my beautiful angelic girls taking a nap (my 4 year old on the couch, my newborn in her bassinet) I see two perfect ashlars fresh out of the quarry. I would like to add a step to the allegory. The stone when cut from the quarry is perfect, it is in the transporting of the stone from the quarry to the celestial temple that the ashlar become rough. Bumpy roads beat up the perfect ashlar to the point where it must be reshaped into that which it once was before being added to that house not made with hands. There is no other way to see things when looking at your own child.

Perfect Ashlars

M.M.M.

P.S. My logo was improved by one of my best friends in the world who knows well how hard it is to carve stone. We bought a piece of granite and some stone carving tools a long time ago. I remember sitting on my front porch of my parents house with him chipping away at a piece of sculpture that, still unfinished, now sits weathering on the front steps of my house waiting to be finished. We have both been on some bumpy roads that have not yet cracked our ashlars.

Thanks Nat

2 comments:

Osiris said...

I really enjoyed this post. Great work.

Osiris...

PHA

M.M.M. From the North Eastern Corner said...

Thank you Osiris,
Your comment led me to your blog. A compliment from someone who writes so powerfully is humbling and uplifting.
M.M.M.