Thursday, July 3, 2008

Are You A Traveling Man?

May the road rise to meet you,

May the wind be always at your back,

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

The rains fall soft upon your fields and,

Until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

I am a traveling man.

My journey is never ending.

I travel towards the East,

The source of all light.

The source of all knowledge.

I am a traveling man.

I wander a winding road.

With many twists and turns.

I know not what lies ahead.

I find new truth with every step.

I am a traveling man.

On a path from whose bourn no traveler returns.

The final destination is not the goal.

The goal is the odyssey itself,

and what I learn with every new vista.

I am a traveling man.

It is the only thing I know for sure.

My insatiable curiosity,

and desire for knowledge

are my ever present companions on this trek.




Never weary

Never ending.



Greg Stewart said...

Is it me, or would that poem make a Great Johnny Cash song?

Gingerman said...

A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I were driving home (Maryland) from Savannah, GA. We stopped at a restaurant in South Carolina. When I was paying the bill, a couple of guys came up and asked if "I was travelling?" I blew it. I didn't respond, except with a grin and said, "Yeah we're driving home. . . blah, blah, blah." I didn't take my cue, and we parted without any meaningful dialogue.

There may not have been a meaningful dialogue, but who knows. Keep your mind and eyes open.

Greg Stewart said...

I know that feeling... I think the meaningfulness is always arbitrary, sometimes it is, sometimes not so much. But the experience is always a good lesson for next time.

Anonymous said...

Gingerman, I don't understand the cutesy stuff. Why don't they just ask if you're a Mason?

I have no idea why Masons think they should ask "Are you a travelling man?" Is there a Grand Lodge that actually tells people to say this as some kind of code?

Justa Mason

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

Justa, I like the traveling man stuff, your such a grump sometimes ;)
I can't however find any reason why it is used except that when masons were operative in Europe in the middle ages and were free to travel between building projects that is what they were called. Anyone else have any info?
MT, Was Johhny a Brother? It would have been a good Cash song.

Greg Stewart said...

To the best of my knowledge, he wasn't, but if he were I think he would of been a fine one, despite his human frailties.

As for the "traveling man" question. From some digging I've done, its only one of about 2 dozen questions that can be given. My guess is that it's just one way of approaching someone without showing their hand, especially when in mixed company or when in doubt.

Early on I used it when trying to parse out friends and brothers on MySpace.

Tom Accuosti said...

Justa, I like the traveling man stuff, your such a grump sometimes ;)

Heh heh - 3M, Justa isn't a grump - he's just... pragmatic.

Personally, I can go either way. After having been asked a dozen times if I'm a "traveling man" or something similar, I've learned to cop to the joke. Usually I look at a guy's hand and say "I like your ring" (or bumper sticker, or decal, or golf shirt, or wherever the logo, er, S&C happens to be).

Obviously this doesn't work as well in the UK.

Greg Stewart said...

Tom, your such a non-conforming anti traditionalist :)

Anonymous said...

Probably the only reason I mention it is reading how playing silly verbal games got in the way of a good Masonic conversation.

A number of years ago, a new member of my Lodge was working on a movie set as a stand-in. A bunch of Masons also working on the film asked stuff about mothers, and little dogs and heading east and he hadn't a clue what they were talking about. Eventually, he explained to them he was a Mason, at which point they called him an imposter because he didn't know answers to any of the cryptic questions they asked. It all could have been avoided with the simple question "Are you a Mason?"

Justa Mason

Tom Accuosti said...

Justa - that's exactly why I don't care for it.


Part of an initiation is learning new things about the culture and background of your adopted organization. In the US, we have a section that says "In your leisure hours, you are to converse with your more well informed brethren who will always be as ready to give, as you shall be ready to receive instruction." The point here being that if you decided to knock on the door, then you have some responsibility to learn about the fraternity that you joined.

Some members really enjoy the "I'm in this sekret klub" thing, and to tell the truth, I sort of enjoy it - at times - myself. It's like being in on certain jokes, or seeing a "cult" movie and getting most of the references.

Or, it's like going to see "HHGTTG" at the theater and remembering to wear a bathrobe and bring a towel (something that hardly anybody else did in my town, much to the embarrassment of my daughter).

However, those guys, instead of calling your buddy an "impostor," should have taken him aside and explained the joke, er, references. Some of the PMs in my lodge did that a few months after I was raised, and I make a point of doing the same to the new guys.

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

Who would have guessed that a little poem would be so controversial?

Unknown said...

It is an interesting thing, I am a traveling man, and I have been to the East, but am not in the Fraternity. After living for more than two decades in the Far East, I have come to understand and appreciate that yes, the Light comes from the East. Perhaps one day I will petition, in the meantime, I consider myself a Friend of the Lodge.

Garrett said...

I'm a traveling man in more than one sense of the word: I moved from Rhode Island to Seattle, and then from Seattle to Maine. ;-)

Unknown said...

I, like J above, am a traveling man, have been to the East, lived there for almost a quarter century, and recognize that the Light comes from the East. Also, as a 4th degree "initiated" Master in traditional martial arts, we too are taught to understand the relation of thought, word, and deed. We are taught thus so that we might teach to the worthy that Force must only be exerted under the Rule of Right and Justice. It is interesting that the Eastern character for the Sun, the source of Light, is based on the hieroglyph of a point in a circle. There are a few of us, my brothers, through study and perseverance, who learned to begin to understand the universal symbols that bind us. I too, consider myself a Friend of the Lodge.

The Most High said...

I'm black can I join?

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

If you believe in a supreme being or a higher power, are over the legal age in your state or jurisdiction, and wish to make yourself a better man for the benefit of all society it does not matter what color you are, what your socio-economic status is, or where you are from. All Masons meet on the level and part on the square.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this fits me to a Tee, word for word and mile for mile !!

S.J.J. said...

Gingerman, yesterday at work, a driver arrived with a load of merchandise. I greeted him, we shook hands, I thought I may have noticed something. Some thirty minutes passed, I was going home early, other co-workers were now in the presence of the driver and myself. I told the driver "goodbye", we shook hands- I noticed again. As I pulled away and turned to leave, he asked "Do you travel much?" And I replied much as you did, "not as much as I would like..." blah, blah, blah. At which point it dawned on me what the fellow meant. Upon which I returned with "Are you a traveling man?" And he said yes, and said "As am I."

And on the way home, I wondered if he knew that I knew. I had missed a chance for "meaningful dialouge", as you might put it. But I bet, my employer and co-workers were thinking, "what are these two crazy guys talking about, asking if they are travelers. Heck, we are all travelers. I went to the Piggly-Wiggly in Beaumont just last week."

So keep travelin, Brother.

H. A. said...

Was buckling my seat belt at a stop sign two houses from my driveway and a cop saw me. Blue lights and a ruined Monday morning for sure right? The officer asked for my license and examined it while standing at my window while I grew more and more upset. He asked what I considered a very odd question... "Are you a traveling man?". I simply said "No sir, just on my way to work" as contrite as I could muster. He handed my license back with a warning and while driving on I remembered that question could be a Masonic "test" phrase from my research. I am not a Mason, but I've come to learn my father was very active. My driver's license reads Hiram A. (last name). My dad has only offered biblical references for what I considered an unusual name when I was younger. We've never talked of Masonry other than his going to lodge meetings. I've come to love my name after reading of the symbolism. With my great upbringing and knowing what my dad envisioned and expected of me I strive to be a better husband, father and servant every day.

Unknown said...

The phrase comes with your 3rd. It entitles you to travel to other lodges and fellowship as an MM

Unknown said...

Ha, cute

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

I think asking if you are a traveling and the responses fit right in with the allegories used in masonry. Many of the quaint expressions we use in masonry are no longer used in modern day English but it doesn't keep them from being meaningful. Somehow just asking if you are a mason is not as meaningful.

Unknown said...

In my opinion, I like the term traveling man, because it denotes the privleges awarded to a master mason, and as such, is is a phrase that would be recognized by other MM's as a true solicitation of the brotherhood to which they both belong.

Alexandre Kappaun said...

It is really a beautiful poem. Who is the author? I want to translate it into Portuguese and want to give proper authorship. Thank you in advance for any response or clue!

Unknown said...

Great poem

Unknown said...

Great poem

EricWashington MM536 said...

Im often asked "how long have you been traveling?" but by non masons so i never know what to say

Unknown said...

It's convenient for nonmembers to state that they are masons when in fact they aren't. The sign, countersign, grips, tokens and the rest are tests to determine if someone really is part of a lodge or not. The (Masonic) origins actually go clear back to the original masonry-practicing guilds from Egypt. As do the pass-grips, passwords, etc. When you don't take things literally but instead more symbolically then things begin to make a lot more sense for those with the eye(s) to see. Someday you might come full circle - you have to earn it in degrees ;)

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Unknown said...

The metaphor "? Question: are you a traveling man?: answer., yes i travel from west to east.." Means a person whos is able to awake sooner than later and comes from darkness ({west}which is not having knowledgeable ) and seek light ({east} which is considered to be knowledge).
The answer to anything is 2..
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The answer to anything is 2, because everything answer starts with questioning reality.( aka conscious and the opposite is subconscious, and that makes 2 things). So 1st you have to understand everything in reality has 2 sides .. And the Masonic point of view in a secret question is that someone seeking light ( knowledge) they must leave darkness ( not having correct knowledge) in the direction from west to east.( which is 2 directions) so secondly without the knoweldge of not having then you wouldnt have knoweldge in the first place.. We all would be knowing.. Thats 2 sides again. (Knowledge and no knowledge).
So the real question is how to come from no knowledge to having knowledge. And again the answer is 2.. Let me show order to get to " have knoweldge" aka light.. They say go west to east none to something, then to know you succeeded simply go opposite .. Like this..
Use something u know and question it. Go from light to dark instead of dark to light.. Thats the opposite and thats 2. So the more light you want the more darkness you must have first in order to get the answers of light..

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