Friday, January 11, 2008

Obligation and Self Interest

Being a part of a lodge that is coming upon another turning point in its history is sometimes hard. For almost 243 years my lodge has survived. Through revolutions, buildings, movings, hard times, good times, world wars, and declined interest, it has stood the test time for almost a quarter millennia. Man that is a long time. Thousands of men have held office in the lodge. It is a heavy responsibility entering the South this year on my way to the Oriental Chair. To tell you the truth there is not many moments where I don not think of how the fate of such an old institution is in my hands. It is daunting.

We are a lodge with no real home.

We are a lodge who's numbers can only decrease incrementally no matter how many we can bring in.

The men who have held the torch for so long will be vacating important positions and it will be up to me and my contemporaries to run the next leg.

After the New Year I decided to tell my mentor that I was guilty of blogging under a pseudonym. I am really proud of what I have built here and wanted to share with one of my Lodge Brothers my thoughts. It was not an easy decision to make. My semi-anonymity provided a curtain to hide behind so my rants or raves could be pure and uninfluenced by thinking about someone getting offended. It served a purpose but it made me uneasy because I have nothing to hide. The thoughts I have published for the whole wide world to read needed to be entered into the forum of discussion of my lodge. I will freely admit that my disclosure to my mentor has already affected my posting. There have been a couple of things that I would have had no problem sharing before I knew someone at my lodge might read it and know about. Nothing earth shattering or scandalous but as I writer there is now a bell that goes off when I write about mt experiences. C'est la vie.

I am happy that I can now at least have a force on the sidelines knowing what I dream about doing with Old St. John's.

There is much work to be done.

The first thing we need is a crop of candidates who want to rebuild this old group as much as I want to.

For to long it has been up to one man, who like atlas, has carried the great burden of keeping the lodge alive upon his shoulders. He has done everything. He has single handily ran my lodge for a long time because no one else would. Yeah there have been many men who have sat in the East in the past 20 or so years but it seems to me it was much easier for them to allow this one man to do everything for the lodge because no one had a vision for the future of the lodge. St. Johns has always been there and would always be there is an all to common attitude of most of my brethren. Now I do not want for one second to downplay anyone else's contribution to my lodge, but in my 2 years of being at every meeting (but one) there is only one who has captained this ship and has been the chief, cook, and bottle washer for too long. This man happens to be, of course, my mentor.

One of the stories he has repeated to me, and everyone else, on many occasions is of how his fathers lodge back in his home state went dark the day his father died. It is his great fear that if something were to happen to him that the same fate would befall old St. John's. I of course always respond to that story with "You don't have to worry about that anymore because I'm here". My response has never been received with what I expect because the last thing he wants to happen is for me to take his place as the "glue" as he has been called. It is not because he doesn't think I am capable but that he doesn't want me to shoulder all of the responsibility for the next twenty years. "It will break the strongest man" he tells me.

We have discussed on many occasions the fate of our lodge and he is very right in not allowing me to just do everything that I want to do. I would gladly relieve him of the burden but I cant do it alone like he has. I need a team. That is what a lodge is supposed to be.

I received a great response from my Beauty post from Brother Rui Banderia all the way from Portugal and there is one line that sticks out in my head from his comment that really helps with what my lodge needs:

"The important thing is that each Lodge be capable of building its own project. Once that's done, the Lodge identity is established and all the problems (there are always problems) are solved."

My lodge needs a project. That project is rebuilding our lodge to be the cornerstone of my city that it once was. I will do my best to lead my brethren in that direction but I can not do it alone. I need a group of like minded (young-er)men to share in this project. Which brings me to my last subject.

Last Friday my friend, who redesigned my Square and Compasses icon, came by my house for a long overdue old fashioned B.S. session. He is not a mason but is really thinking about joining the craft. He is one of those friends of mine, and there are unfortunately too few, who can sit down with me and discuss all the things about life that should and need to be discussed more often. We need not see each other all the time but when we do get together it is always like we never left off. He has really been enjoying reading my blog and had many questions about the fraternity. We had a great few hours of conversation that seemed to go by in a few minutes. The type of conversation we had is what my dream lodge experience is. Deep thoughts, heady topics all being freely discussed back and forth between brothers and even though he doesn't wear a ring (yet) he is my brother. He lies my problem. If he were to join the order he is unsure of where to petition. There is a lodge a couple of minutes down the road from his house which I know to be a fine lodge and would be convenient for him, yet my lodge is between his work and home. I would love to have one of my best friends sit in lodge with me and I believe we could do some great work but at the same time I have always been a proponent of choosing a lodge that is close to your home. Knowing that he will read this that little bell is going off in my writers mind so I will stop with that thought so as not to effect any decision he makes ;-) It is my obligation to point him to his nearest lodge and it is in my own self interest that I want him in mine.

Anyway if there are any brethren out there with some stories or insight into having a close friend entering into the brotherhood behind them I (and my friend) would love to hear from you.


Unknown said...

Dear Brother M.M.M.

I throughly enjoyed your past post. The enthusiasm you show is very reminiscent of my own journey within my lodge.

I would highly recommend that you advice your friend to join your lodge. I think that you are obliged to recommend the lodge where your friend will most enjoy himself, feel welcome and will do the most good. By sharing your lodge with your friend, you will both do much good for yourself and your lodge. In my experience, Masonry always benefits from exponential growth and exponential decay. Why is this? Because when men enjoy themselves together, it naturally attracts men and this in turn attracts more and more. Of course, the opposite is also true. If men do not enjoy themselves, they will repulse more and more men. So, what is the point of this? The Masonic lodge needs brothers who enjoy themselves being together to grow. Since you already enjoy the company of your friend, it's natural for him to join your lodge. Many lodges are held together because of a feeling of duty to the lodge. Others are held together by a duty to its brothers. The former rarely grows, while the latter is usually a successful lodge.

Although I commend your mentor for the many long years of service to your lodge, I would hate to see you fill his shoes and so would he. Masonry is about brotherhood. Lodges shouldn't have to be held together by one man. It should be supported by a network of brothers, working together. I think that by having your friend by your side, you will insure that you do not become the next Atlas.

When I joined my lodge, I didn't know a single person there. Now, 2/3 of its officer line is filled with friends of mine who I knew prior to Masonry. I have to say that my experience now is much more fulfilling then my experience when I first joined. This year, my best friend will be our WM, I will sit in the West and my younger brother will sit in the South. Going to lodge never feels like a duty anymore, it feels like home. This is what Masonry is all about :)

Traveling Man said...

If this is any help to you - my home is near Bradley Airport, my work is in Avon, and my Lodge is halfway between Hartford and New Haven.

I wouldn't leave for anything.

Traveling Man

M.M.M. from the North Eastern Corner said...

Brother Charles,
Thank you for your guidance and insight.
Brother Traveling Man,
I see you live up to your pseudonym!!

Unknown said...

BTW, your new graphic is totally awesome!!! Your friend's artistry is superb!

M.M.M. from the North Eastern Corner said...

I actually took it one step further and created my own image. It still is too big but I still don't know exactly what I am doing. But Thanks!

Tom Accuosti said...

MMM - was there actually a post here? Sorry, I was blown away by that new S&C header. Way cool, bro!

Radcliffe said...

So actually now according to your S and C. The Northeast is to become the new true North. I knew there had to be a reason for that during the polar shift. Does that mean we will the new rose line. Seriously though, I think the new generation of men is going to change the core of masonry, which is due.

M.M.M. from the North Eastern Corner said...

Divine light shines first in the darkness of the North East.

Tom Accuosti said...

Divine light shines first in the darkness of the North East.


It took me a couple of seconds to get that. Good one!