Monday, October 27, 2008

New Face, Old Brother

One of the nice things about being in a lodge with a large membership and small attendance is that every now and then, a new face will appear at the door that a "newbie" like me does not recognise but is well known to the "old guys". I arrived at the lodge to open up before our meeting and while I started to unload the refreshments the usual Brethren began to trickle in behind. At one point a few of us were standing just inside the door when a gentleman appeared at the door that most of us didn't recognise. He came in the door with a smile and shook one of the Past Masters hands and seeing the need, I introduced myself and everyone else followed. He was a member that hadn't been around in a while but was "found" again, as we are trying to dredge up as many members for our upcoming Master Mason Degree that we are going to (try) confer without any outside help.
We were having a rehearsal that night and I'll admit I must have caught something when I visited VW Tom at Friendship 33 because there was a loosey goosey feel to the evening and dare I say it, we kind of had fun! Everyone was on top of their parts and we had some laughs while we were practicing the Sublime Degree. I am stepping back to sit in the Senior Deacons chair for the degree so I was right next to the WM. At one point there was a mistake in words and one of the Brothers said sing instead of spoke and all of the sudden I had an image of a musical adaption of the third degree that had the WM and me in stitches for a while. The rehearsal went very well except for a couple of missing parts that I hope will be filled before the degree actually happens and the good feeling extended after the meeting was over.
The Secretary grabbed me for a couple of words and then the "new" guy grabbed my ear for a while. As we talked about many things, we learned of many similarities we shared in our lives and our conversation was anything but the superficial banter I usually endure at meetings. Its great to find new experiences at a regular meeting. I have spoken with my new found Brother a few times since and even visited him at his place of work and I am excited for our next meeting. I hope that all of the "digging" for old members to come to the MM degree turns up more gems.


Tom Accuosti said...

You mean you had some fun at a meeting?

How dare you!

Justa Mason said...

Fun has its time and place at a meeting, Tom. You should come to a few of mine when I'm stuck in the chair. But it's not a comedy show and there are places it is not appropriate; during balloting and degree work, for example.

MMM's story reminded me of the practices we used to have for DeMolay Degrees when I first joined. We used to screw around and add appropriate (and sometime inappropriate) dialogue and floorwork and drove our Chapter Dad nuts. But it was all business when we did the degree. It's probably because we all knew the ritual so well we could screw around with it.

Last Lodge meeting, one of our PMs who hadn't been out for awhile popped in after the meeting (over threat of suspension for NPD) and didn't know a lot of the guys. We had everyone stand up and introduce themselves. Last night, I was on an investigation committee and dragged out our former Chaplain, who works nights. Our newest MM was on the Committee and the two hadn't met, so that was nice.


Tom Accuosti said...

Obviously, antics during degree work is, well, just plain wrong. It shows a lack of respect to the new brother and to the brothers on the sidelines. I'm reminded of the Three Stooges Degree that was reported elsewhere a few months ago. As far as I'm concerned, nobody should make light of the experience for the candidates.

That said, business meetings (we call them "Stated Communications") are fair game, as long as it does not mock the solemnity of the ritual ceremonies. A whoopee cushion during the Secretary's report might be in poor taste. However, we have played, umm, odd musical selections for the introduction of certain VIPs, and have revised the ritual opening and closing to fit certain theme nights.

Justa, I have run into a few lodges in which the fun - as in, the simple enjoyment of being with friends - seems to have run out with the Ed Sullivan Show. Minutes are read without a smile, members sit there like zombies. I've seen attempts at levity met with head-shaking. What could possibly keep new brothers coming back to such an environment?

Admiral Bung said...

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

Is this an invite?

Justa Mason said...

You actually read minutes? That went out with The Ed Sullivan Show. No wonder you get blank stares. No one wants to hear minutes.. except those solely because they say "it's always been done that way."

I've been Secretary (or acting) of three Lodges and two concordant bodies. I have yet to read any minutes. I mail or e-mail them instead. The one Lodge I'm in where I've never served in office has them passworded on its web site.

Three of my Lodges have switched to a system where the boring stuff .. minutes, correspondence, bills, receiving petitions .. is handled in Committee and the Committee moves its report be adopted. All done in 30 seconds. More time for education and social activities.

You've known me long enough to know I like one-liners as much as anyone, usually irreverant or dry ones. But one has to be conscious of where to draw the line in open Lodge.

The Millennial Freemason said...

Very true about minutes. Our secretary emails and brings printed copies of the minutes so that we can speed business up. Committees are the spokes that keeps the treads on the road. It is magic and can get sideliners to be involved in ways that they would have not been before.