Thursday, June 25, 2009

Operative Mason

My lodge has the very distinct honor of having an operative mason as our Worshipful Master and it is my honor and pleasure to call him Brother. For those unfamiliar with the terminology it means he is an actual stone mason by trade. While most of us spend our days pondering and speculating upon the ancient craft of Masonry my W.M. lives it because he is an actual mason. He spends his days in the dirt amidst billowing clouds of cement dust and heavy blocks and let me tell you nothing in our ritual comes even close to the toil of being a mason. I know this now because in a flash of brilliance my wife and I decided to tear down our old deck and replace it with stone steps and a paver patio in my spare time. My Brother agreed to help me with my little project and has come to my house for nearly a month to pay me back for all the pestering and nagging he has received from his overbearing Senior Warden, or Wicked Witch of the West as he likes to call me.
Previously at night and on the weekends I had slowly demolished my 14 x 20 deck and cleared the debris for my glorious introduction into real masonry. The pavers were chosen and delivered to my house and I got up on a Saturday with a air of invincibility and strength which rapidly faded with every shovelful of stone filled soil we removed to create the foundation for my stairs. I remember reading as a kid of how hard it was for the pilgrims to make farmland in the rocky New England soil and boy they weren't kidding. After one hour of being a real mason I found myself entirely depleted of all the strength I woke up with but I persevered because my Brother, who has a few years on me, didn't even break a sweat. As he instructed me on the finer parts of mixing cement by hand, he thought it was hilarious that I was huffing and puffing like a marathon runner at the end of 25 miles while he could wield a hoe and shovel like a feather. Now don't get me wrong, in my regular job I lift thousands of pounds of steel a day but it is in small bursts of strength not the constant grind of moving heavy earth and stone and all that goes with it for 8 hours plus a day. His patience and understanding are boundless and his Brotherhood is second to none.
I have learned many things in the past month of doing this project with my W.M. but the greatest thing I have come away with is the amazing bond that can be made by common labor among men. As we toiled and struggled day after day, all the while exchanging jokes and stories of our lives, we truly shared an experience of building something beautiful and are closer for it. That is what we are supposed to do as Freemasons.
We have two important building tasks at hand while we labor together as speculative masons.
The first task is to work together to improve ourselves as men and Freemasons. It is not an easy task, and some of us stones are allot rougher than others, but we must constantly and conscientiously strive to wield our common gavels to chip away the ugly parts of ourselves to create a more perfect stone to use in the second task and that is in the building of our lodge.
Not the building we meet in but the collective creation of men that meet every two weeks or so. As we work together to make ourselves better in our ritual and regular meetings we grow stronger by spreading the cement of Brotherly love.
Cement is not an easy building material. It requires a correct blend of certain elements mixed just right to achieve the reaction that is needed to build and patience for it to cure. The amazing differences of the Brethren of a lodge mixed just right with the patience of allowing the ceremonies of our craft to "cure" can build anything.
Our lodge is in an incredible period of growth and rebuilding. We have already had almost 10 men entered into our Brotherhood and the list of candidates grows every meeting because under the guidance of our incredible W.M., allot of fellowship, and a little help from the "Wicked Witch of the West". I have much to live up to if I assume the East next year and I know I have Brothers who will be there to help.
P.S. I now know why us masons kneel at the begining of our labor...................


Unknown said...


Paul Chapin said...

Some of my favorite moments at our lodge have been the building projects that we have taken on. In my year as SW I volunteered to take on remodeling our basement, keep in mind our lodge was built in the 1800's so this was no easy task. Slowly but surely more and more brothers started stopping down to help out. And as you mentioned in your blog, these type of settings allow for casual conversations that really bond men. Since this project we have taken on several more mostly with the same crew but slowly but surely with some of the new brothers. These types of projects and programs like CHIP programs are great for building true friendships amoung the brothers.

Enjoy your summer my brother !

Anonymous said...

St. John's Lodge #2 boasts Operatives on its' membership roles as well. In fact, one of them will be doing some work on my home in the near future.

Don Tansey