Saturday, November 20, 2010
Let There Be Light
I cant imagine a universe without light.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and the earth was without form and void...
Isn't it amazing that so long ago humans had an idea of the universe and its creation without any scientific knowledge or proof? The earth was without form and void, the vast vacuum of space or nothingness was empty there was no matter or being just a void and a void needs to be filled...
And God said let there be light... and there was light.
From nothing, something.
From that creative energy came everything and we are that energy.
Stars form, mass creates gravity, gravity congeals matter, cosmic clouds become spherical rocks where tiny fragments of that energy can exist in a myriad of forms.
Why is it so hard for some to believe in the creative force.
In the beginning my computer screen was blank...
All of this must have just randomly appeared....
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Freemasonry Makes Men...Period
Now, its not that I did not know about philosophy or history or science, these were always passions of mine but modern American society never demanded that I be able to discuss such matters in public. The modern man is supposed to watch sports, swill beer, and ogle women or at least that is what has become the acceptable norm. In some circles any discussion above how "hot" so and so is or did you see the Yankees game were frowned upon and usually brought down epithets like nerd or loser.
Marriage was certainly a cure for many things. My wife got me my first button down shirt without short sleeves and pair of khakis that did not have big pockets down the side. She even had me pluck out my many earrings that I had collected over the years. She suggested things and I tried them and eventually agreed with her but even after my first child I was prone to coming home and turning on the PS2 and killing or flying something with a baby in my arms.
Then I became a Freemason.
Respect for the institution and ritual made me dress myself better for lodge and as I started to dress better for lodge, I found myself liking the way I looked and dressing better all the time. I still wear T-shirts at home and to the beach but I cant imagine wearing a T-shirt out to dinner like I used to. I take that request of the Worshipful Master when I first stood a just and upright mason that I should ever look and act as such, seriously and am glad of it.
As I learned my proficiency and started doing the lecture work I realized that I was a good speaker and found that I could speak to new people with a much higher level of confidence than I had ever before. It even lead me to do theater, something I had not done since junior high school. The more lectures I learned the more I realized that I was capable of learning things and expressing what they meant to me with great clarity to someone else.
As I progressed in the officers line and took on more and more responsibility and started to help plan and organize things, I realized that my opinion mattered and my contribution to something actually resulted in something.
Most of all, as Brothers who meet upon the level I realized that I am just as much as a man as the next guy no matter what he does or is titled and that profound insight is the most powerful. I will always respect anyone I do not know but I will never give them reverence that is not due.
Of course all of these traits can be acquired without knocking on the West Gate and may just come with getting older and having more responsibilities in life and many fine Brothers of mine can easily transition into the Macho Man character on a moments notice but I think that our order can guide a man child into manhood with quite amazing results. I even tuck in my shirts now and think it looks sloppy otherwise!!!
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Do We Meet Too Much?
I have done all of the things laid out in various Masonic papers to increase participation yet no matter what awesome night I have planned I get about the same amount of Brothers. Now you may say it has something to do with the caliber of men who belong to my lodge but I can honestly say that on those nights, the revolving handful of Brothers of the sideline is never the same and the cast of that ever different bunch all are good Masons and I believe in my heart they would all be at every meeting if they could, so where is the problem?
Recently my lodge has been blessed with the addition of a couple of Brothers who originally hail from the mother Grand Lodge of England and at our last meeting, after I successfully got my Lodge to let me try doing some aspects of a Traditional Observance lodge at our next degree, one of my English Brothers showed me a summons for his mother lodge in England. It was a gorgeous printed document the likes of which my lodge has not produced in ages and the thing that struck me was they only meet 4 times a year! Quarterly as they say! Thats when it hit me, maybe we meet too much.
Perhaps if we were to cut down on the amount of nights that we need to break away from our families and routines we might get more fannies in the seats. Now, this goes against about everything I have always thought about how a lodge should be run because even at my lodges current meeting schedule, twice a month and not during the summer, a Brother needs only to dedicate about .006% of his time per year to his lodge( and that is with three hour meetings!). Even at this tiny amount of dedication I can count on more than a few calls or emails before a meeting with "Oh I am so bogged down with work I cant make it tonight" or " I am just too busy to make it tonight" or the classic "I totally forgot we had a meeting tonight". So is this the solution? Make the Brothers dedicate .002% of their time or four five hour meetings per year? (Including a festive board at every meeting) I don't know, even with three kids, a working wife, and a job I have only missed a handful of meetings and even then I tried to show up at some point in the night. I am in no way knocking my Brothers who do not attend every meeting just trying to figure out a better way to improve attendance.
Its not that they don't know about our meetings. Along with clearly stating to every new Brother, or even candidate, that we meet on the first and third Thursday of every month except for July and August, I send out a Trestleboard with our upcoming events on it, send out an email before the meetings, and have a Facebook page for the lodge and send out event notices from there. Yet we never get all of the active brothers together on a regular meeting night. I personally look forward to every meeting and my family knows that twice a month Daddy has lodge. So do we meet too much?
In a lodge that only meets four times a year you obviously limit the amount of candidates that can join and can only go through three degrees once a year. Can this schedule result in the amount of sincere camaraderie and knowledge of your Brothers that seeing some of them at least once a month produces? I think that quarterly meetings would indeed increase the importance of a meeting because if you miss one you missed a fourth of the year but many of the Brothers already miss a fourth of the meetings. Quarterly meetings would definitely allow for better preparation and maybe produce a higher quality meeting. I think a festive board after the meeting is just a wonderful thing and anytime I have been a part of one, either formally or informally, it has been a memorable experience, but think that one or two every month would break the bank of most of the Brothers which bodes well with a quarterly schedule.
There are some lodges who get together all of the time with clubs, movie nights, and other social events. These lodges seem to have an abundant amount of extra time for each other. There are also some lodges with many members who can not even fill the officers chairs for a Stated Communication. My lodge falls in between. I just wonder if there is a better way.
What do you think?
Are two Stated Communications a month too many?
Is a Quarterly schedule better?
Friday, September 17, 2010
We Are One
Now, I received this message at around 11:00AM and knew I could not return the call for a couple of hours so I started to think about how I could perform this last duty and possibly wrangle up a few Brothers to help in a 24 hour period. It takes a couple of weeks to put together a decent Entered Apprentice degree so I worried about how this very important service would come together.
Even before I got the chance to act I received a call from my Secretary checking to see if I got the message. I told him I had and was just about to try to put something together and asked all of the questions a young Worshipful Master asks of his wise old Secretary. I had attended every memorial service that I could since I joined the lodge, so I knew how they went, but this would be my first one as WM.
The Masonic Funeral or Memorial service is probably the most important public event that we as Masons do because not only is it our last tribute to our fallen Brother, it is one of the most moving pieces of ritual we do in front of non-Masons. It is a chance to show the family of the deceased why it is their man was a Mason and what it means to be one and it is a chance for his friends and family to have a glimpse into our fraternity. I can not stress enough of its importance for I have seen amazing ones, as in my Chance Inspiration (probably my best post ever) and bad ones as in my How Do You Tell a Past Master He Is Wrong so I felt the pressure to deliver something good for an over Fifty year member of the lodge.
I started making the calls to my officers and received an overwhelmingly positive response. I then sent out a general email to the Brethren and received a few more affirmatives. I went to the Lodge building and grabbed the accoutrement needed and brought it home for cleaning and polishing. The next day I received some regrets but also some unexpected responses for help and went about preparing for the service. I had the Brothers come to my house an hour before hand to practice and my street filled with cars with Masonic emblems. When the time came we all loaded up into cars and headed for the graveyard.
As a man who was raised Catholic, has Buddhist tendencies and now goes to an Episcopal church I had experienced many types of burials but this was my first Jewish one. My fallen Brother was a Navy vet also, so there were a couple of sailors there who performed their service first with the ever moving Taps and folding of the American Flag then it was our turn. After we were finished I stayed with a Past Master of my lodge and watched the burial service of our Brothers faith and was quite moved.
Freemasonry is perhaps the only vehicle where men of all faiths can sit together and profess faith without infringing on another's and come away better. We all believe in something better and can actually experience, if we truly live up to our credo, each others faith and cement faith itself. As different as the words and ritual of my Brothers religion were, they were familiar to me because at a time of loss it is faith that keeps us moving forward with love.
We are all one.
Monday, August 23, 2010
The Lost Temples
Whenever my little family needs a short vacation we often drive up the coast of Connecticut to the historic village of Mystic, made famous by the movie about a pizza shop but better known for its historic seaport. We love the quaint New England sea town feel and the fresh salt air and whenever we can't do a long vacation we often just head up there for a few nights away from our house. A few years back when still new to Freemasonry and without an I-phone, while looking for parking down a side street that followed the Mystic river, I came across this building which at the time still had Masonic emblems on it. It was quite impressive and had a direct view of the river and harbor within. Later that day, while waiting for some pizza, I tried looking up the lodge on my incredibly early version of a smart phone by attempting to view the list of Connecticut lodges on our Grand Lodge website (that took forever) and I could not find any listing for a lodge in Mystic. Our vacation went on as normal and I forgot about the search until my most recent trip while strolling along the river I saw the building again but this time it had a for sale sign in front of it.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
When the eminent return to work seemed less eminent, I started to apply to jobs that never responded or when they did asked for more than they would return. It seems that todays employment requires 150% and pays 65% with no benefits. I happen to be blessed with being married to a woman who has always carried more of the burden from her hard work and higher education and for our burgeoning family (we were just blessed with our fourth child and a fine strapping lad he is!) her salary, along with my government pittance has kept us above water so far but I am not sure how much longer we can stay afloat.
As for my year in the East, what started out as an incredible success with increased education, incredible camaraderie and lodge growth came to a sputtering stall as we went into our summer break of dimness. I assembled an officer line that I thought would drive us into the next two an a half centuries sidelining some very good friends and brothers who I had though had underperformed during my junior officer roles and promoting a group of my hand picked guys and it mostly back-fired. The guys I sidelined became stellar brothers and a few of my hand picked have stuttered at best.
I tried to lead my old lodge to a new beginning with a carefully thought out plan of buying a new building to call home that mostly fractured all of the fellowship I had worked so hard to flourish. Don't get me wrong, we are much better than we have been but now there are camps of passionate differing opinions vying against each other and mostly me. Some of my most trusted brothers left me in the lurch carrying a torch that I thought I shared with everyone.
So for a while I had a hard time believing in anything, and really still do.
I question my dedication to a quixotic cause of a once powerful lodge, I question my ability as a man to contribute to my family and I question mostly myself.
I have not been able to write because even with the amazing birth of my son I have not felt happy in a long time.
I have just existed.
Existence is not what I was put here to do.
Sorry for the bummer of a post.
I need the sun to rise in the East again.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
You know that scene in Braveheart when the big battle is lost and he charges after the helmeted knight and is knocked off his horse and plays dead to entice his enemy off his horse then springs up on him pulling off his helmet ready to slice his throat only to find his "friend" Robert the Bruce behind the mask. I thought Mel Gibson's interpretation of betrayal was so powerful and true. Bewildered, sad, confused, defeated he stumbles back trying to make sense of his world gone upside down and lays down in surrender. The Bruce then finds his moral compass and helps him escape but it is too late for the cause.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
The Lodge Night I Dreamed Of
There we were, four Traveling Men on a train bound for the greatest city in the world dressed in dark suits. We had no idea what to expect and were excited like school kids on their first field trip. We spoke of our lodge and how it was now and what we dreamed of it becoming. In hushed tones I helped my Brothers polish their secrets to make sure they shined if tried. They were ready, we were ready. I had already explained to them that the lodge we were visiting was special and did things very different form how we did things but even I did not know what was to come. It seemed the stations passed by in a blink because we arrived in Grand Central in a very short time.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Disappointment or Reality?
A while back I finished reading Master of the Mysteries: The Life of Manly Palmer Hall and like many things in my quest for esoteric knowledge the reality was not anything like the idealized vision I had built up in my head. Very early in my research into Freemasonry I became a big fan of Mr. Hall. I started out, like many searchers of hidden knowledge, with The Secret Teachings of all Ages. It was a revelation and although I have still not finished the entire book Manly's writings stirred something in me and spoke directly to me. Sometimes it seemed that he wrote in my thought pattern. It soon became an obsession of mine and the large stack of his books began to grow on my nightstand. Melchizedek and the Mystery of Fire (Adept Series),Words to the Wise: A Practical Guide to the Esoteric Sciences,The Secret Destiny of America,Twelve World Teachers: A Summary of Their Lives and Teachings,The Lost Keys of Freemasonry (Also Includes: Freemasonry of the Ancient Egyptians / Masonic Orders of Fraternity) books, pamphlets, websites, I devoured them all. I repeatedly went on to the Philosophic Research Society's website and even dreamed of entering it's degree program. My highlighter has only gotten more work when I was given a script for a play.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
If You Build It...
Friday, March 19, 2010
Which Way Do The Compasses Point?
Thursday, March 4, 2010
The Joy Of Building
The best thing about being Worshipful Master is being able to take things I had only contemplated or wrote about and making it into reality, tonight was one of those great nights. For those of you who read this blog you may recall at the end of one of my posts about an idea for a lodge "building" night I called "Mix The Cement Night". The basic idea of the program came from an experience at our Grand Lodge's Wardens Seminar I attended in October of last year. We were separated into pairs and caused to interview each other as a team building experience, I took this idea and came up with "Mix The Cement Night"and it was a tremendous success.
I snuck the event into my Message From the East and did not give any details about what it was going to be, knowing that none of the Brothers of my lodge really reads my blog so it would be a complete surprise(as it turned out one of the newest Brothers had read it but kept it a secret). I started receiving calls about it the day after I sent out the Trestleboard and would not give the slightest idea of what it was to be, which heightened the anticipation.
I arrived this evening, fashionably late, to a full parking lot and a bunch of Brothers quite enjoying each others company already, which just made it that much better. We quickly opened lodge and disposed of the good business of petitions and returned investigations, then I put the lodge at ease so I could explain what we were about to do. I explained the esoteric idea of the night and knowing my lodge as I do split the Brothers up into pairs of "old school" and "new school", so to say, and gave them a nice questionnaire to conduct the interview. Name, Family Members, Why You Became a Mason were some of the questions on the sheet that I explained to the Brothers should be used as a template to know your Brother better. I then promptly closed the lodge and we adjourned to the dinner hall for the exercise.
We all grabbed a beverage of choice and the fun began. I wanted to limit the time of the interviews to 15 minutes a piece so we would have enough time to hear everyones answers but to my pleasant surprise I was asked for a little more time. The buzz in the air was music to my ears as everyone got to know each other a little better and then I started by introducing my Brother the Treasurer to the lodge. I then went around the room and randomly went back and forth between old and new and had every Brother tell us a little more about their Brother. The stories were great, the camaraderie was amazing and no one was in a rush to leave afterwards! The best part of it was that we all knew each other better than we had ever before and left more cohesive and happier than we came, TRUE BROTHERHOOD.
The cement of personal knowledge was mixed into the aggregate collection of men and turned into a concrete foundation of a Freemasons Lodge. It just doesn't get any better.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Delivering The Goods
Again, it is with great pleasure that I now address you by that sacred appellation. You have now undergone the same experience that some of the greatest men in history have and can call George Washington, Henry Ford, Simón Bolívar, Mozart, Voltaire and countless other Brothers. The light of Freemasonry is a beacon that has long attracted men of the utmost character and temperament. This letter is to help you with the great honor that was bestowed upon you and to help welcome you into the St. Johns Lodge № 6 family.
St. Johns Lodge № 6 Free and Accepted Masons was chartered in 1765 by the then Provincial Grand Lodge in New York. The first Worshipful Master was a local merchant and ship’s captain named Benjamin Isaacs and Lodge met in his home on what would later be named Isaacs Street. To put it in perspective George Washington was a young 33 years old when our Lodge was formed. Our lodge has continually met and made Masons ever since and has produced a few Grand Masters and leaders of all levels in the Grand Lodge of Connecticut that was formed 18 years after our forming.
As an Entered Apprentice you are now a Freemason and you are entitled to join us at our meetings. We meet on the first and third Thursday of every month except July and August when we go dim for summer (which is to say not meeting formally). We will open the lodge on the degree of the lowest Brother attending unless we are conferring a higher degree and even then you may come for the fellowship that occurs before we open Lodge. We sincerely hope you will join us at all of our meetings and events when possible. The more you put into Freemasonry the more you will get out of it. We are first and foremost a Brotherhood and it is always great to see your Brother!
You may not yet display any forms of Masonic identification (i.e. rings, pins, and emblems) for although a Brother you are not yet a full member of the Fraternity and will not be one until you attain the Sublime Degree of Master Mason. I encourage you to enrich your mind with the countless books, articles, and websites that will enlighten you to the Craft, but be wary of reading anything that exposes your next two Degrees, only because it will lessen the experience that our rituals invoke. Our initiatic system was developed in time immemorial to reverberate in the soul of the true initiate and a knowledge of what is to come although trivial will dampen your experience.
You will need to learn the Question and Answer lecture that was recited for you in order to pass onto the next Degree of Fellowcraft. The booklets you were given will help you some but what will help you even more will be the guidance of one of your Brothers who will gladly assist you in learning. This not only helps you learn but will grow the bond of Brotherhood that is the binding part of Freemasonry. The lecture book is written in mnemonics, a sort of code that is meant to help you in memorizing the lecture. While perfect recitation of the lecture is desirable and encouraged it is most important that you know the Due Guard, Sign, Grip (handshake), and Word of an Entered Apprentice which are the true secrets of your rank. Included in this packet is our Trestleboard which is our monthly newsletter, which has a list of the Officers of the Lodge and their contact information. Feel free to contact anyone of us including myself to help you become a proficient Entered Apprentice and a shining example of our lodge and great Order.
Sincerely and Fraternally,
Matthew M. Morris, Worshipful Master St. Johns Lodge № 6 F.&A.M.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Take one AGM in a Tux cowboy boots and hat, one Senior Warden, a Derby, some Prince Hall, United Grand Lodge of England, and Grand Lodge of Connecticut Brethren, and unlike poor Tom Accuosti's latest ubuntu attempt, you have one successful installation!
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
The Night Before....
Saturday, January 2, 2010
I have been criminally neglectful of my blog but like usual I have a lot of excuses, well sort of, I am a recent addition to the national unemployment statistic and for the first time in my adult life I do not have a full time job. Although that should give me loads of time to write I actually find that my time seems to disappear faster now than when I was working 60 hour weeks! Just before I was handed a pink slip I was, in my spare time, going full speed ahead with trying to organize and lay out the ground work for my lodge to purchase a building we could call our own. I had been working and politicking like mad for the last couple meetings to test the waters and gather support for my dream. I found a building, checked the resources, examined the charter and rules and regulations, and one by one I started to talk to the Brethren to get their ideas and see if they liked mine.