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.
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 Abroad, he 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."