Friday, June 27, 2008

A Master Mason Degree Then Dim The Lights

There seems to be a common thread right now in Masonic Blogs. They all have posted something in the way of "Well, I haven't posted in a while because I have been so busy with work, family and lodge commitments and the beginning of summer is upon us....."

Now I don't want to be one to be left out so let me start this post by saying:

Well, I haven't posted in a while because...

Between my last Masonic post and now, I traveled 800 miles each way with two children in the car to my sister in laws wedding in Kentucky. Again during a road trip pit stop in New Jersey I received warm fraternal greetings from a Prince Hall Brother who noticed the S&C on my T shirt and called to me "I see you are a Traveling Man" and gave me a brotherly handshake and hug and we exchanged lodge info and parted on the square. Even my wife, who at times seems just to tolerate my Masonic stuff loves it when I run into a Brother on the road. My four year old said "Daddy you have brothers everywhere!" to which I told her, "all over the world honey!" which she thought was so cool. But other than seeing where the local Masons lodge was in my Father in laws home town of Eminence, which is a very small rural town, I had no other masonic contact on the trip.

When we got home I had to kick it into high gear Masonicly. My lodge was about to host a Master Masons degree for the first time in a long time and I was responsible for getting two of the five Brothers to be raised proficient at the previous degree. We had a log jam of Brothers needing to be raised, and in Connecticut you can only raise five Brothers at one time (thankfully). Our district degree team was gathering to help us with the second half and was made up of more purple aprons than we had seen in our old building in forever so I wanted to get my guys up to snuff. I had two personal sessions with the Fellowcrafts and then started to plan for the dinner to precede the degree. Being Junior Warden is the penance to pay for leading the lodge someday. I cant wait to hand over the responsibility of the dinners to another Brother not only because it adds a huge responsibility to my job but we never collect enough donations to cover the cost of the dinners so I have been subsidising feeding the brethren for some time now.

The turnout for the degree was awesome. Although I could not chit chat as much as I wanted to with the visiting brethren because I was too busy setting up dinner and the lodge for the degree. I did however take the time to grab each of the five FC's and tell them to make sure to soak up as much as they could of the evening because it would be the best degree they ever went through and that it was the single biggest bind between brothers, going through the sublime degree. Afterwards one of the new Master Masons and one of the guys I coached, came up to me and thanked me for telling him to drink it all in which made me very happy.

Unfortunately because of the length of the degree and the lateness of the finish the gathered brethren left as quick as their cars could take them. Which left me cleaning up with only the Worshipful Master as company and he was itching to go, so there was not any fellowship after the degree. This was a big bummer to me because it was our last meeting before going "dim" for the summer. In CT we do not meet in July and August mostly because most buildings don't have air conditioning and summer is so filled with vacation and family obligations that barely filled lodge meetings would be even barer during these months. So I went home, hung up my tuxedo for a while, and went out in my back yard for a cigar and my whirling thoughts.

Although I welcome a break from the crazy schedule that my obligations have produced this year, I will miss lodge for a couple of months. I plan to do some serious esoteric delving this summer into our ritual and brotherhood so like my friend and fellow CT Masonic blogger says:

Stay Tuned.....

Sunday, June 15, 2008

On Fatherhood

I am writing at the time of the predawn day of the now iconoclastic day of fatherhood, Fathers Day.
My whole life, as far as I can remember, has revolved around the promise of fatherhood. I have always wanted children, as many as a wife would allow me to father. Although the family that I was raised in was not entirely huge per say, four children, my parents came from prototypical Irish Catholic families of the mid 1900's. My mothers family was the holy grail of fatherhood to my paternal instinct, thirteen children. I remember going to my maternal grandfathers birthday celebration in the 1990's, and during the ubiquitous family photo, I could not even imagine how it would be to have so many pieces of yourself at large in the world, but I envied him.
My own Father is my hero. He is all I ever wanted to be. He is the kindest, strongest, and most generous man I have ever known. He is not the most outspoken man in the world, but he can say more in a look or gesture than most can say with a whole dictionary.
He gave me life.
He gave me an example of manhood.
I was never the supreme athlete he was, but he never made me feel bad about it.
My father, although possessed of a higher education (political science), is a house painter and a handyman, like his father was. It was the best way to support a growing family in the 70's-80's. But I can tell you with out a shadow of doubt that there is no smarter painter/handyman out there.
He taught me that Fatherhood is sacrifice. Once you bring a child into this world your world changes; it is not about you, it is about your creation and how you can make the world better for it.
Children are the single hardest and greatest thing in this existence.
For so long you live in a world that revolves around yourself. Its a nice world, you know it like the back of your hand, but you crave something more. Next comes the love of your life, who alters that singular world view and helps you see that there is more to life than yourself. That first divide of love can be hard for some who find it much easier to live singularly but for most it brings even more love than you thought you were capable of. This results in a production of two loves, a child. I can honestly say that there is no single joy in life that can compare with that of your own child.
The birth of my first daughter was not exactly the death of me, but it was kind of. In her was the new me. I am not the same person I was four and three quarters, as she says, years ago. My life is her life. I still have my hopes and dreams but they are now entwined with hers. I live through her. My son and new daughter was and are the same.
I remember having a conversation with my wife before the birth of my son about how I could not imagine how I could love another like my daughter to which she wisely responded "before me, you didn't know how it is to love someone else and yet your love grew. Then we had our love together which was wonderful, yet it expanded again for our daughter and just like it was unimaginable how love could be made better by her, it will be made larger again for him." Now that is not an exact quote but it was the gist of the conversation, but the point is that love has no boundaries or limits. Love is ever growing.
I love being a father. It is what I always wanted to do. Looking back at my families life, even with the trials of having thirteen crazy children, I always will envy my grandfather for the unbelievable amount of creation he loved and enjoyed, I just cant seem to convince my wife to let us house our own baseball team. With the price of living nowadays I cant imagine affording a quartet!
Enough of this crazy, wandering Fatherhood post.