Monday, March 2, 2015

Memento Mori

The roll of the workmen has been called and one Master Mason has not answered to his name. He has laid down the working tools of the Craft and with them he has left that mortal part for which he no longer has use. His labors here below have taught him to divest his heart and conscience of the vices and superfluities of life, thereby fitting his soul as a living stone for that spiritual building, that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. In reverence then, let us lift our prayer to the Divine Being to insure the favor of that Eternal God.

This is one of the most beautiful pieces of lecture in the Masonic repertoire. It invokes such a profound realization of loss in me.

I can hear his name being called ... no response, called again ..., called once more ...
We travel along this winding path of life and are joined by so many over time but sometimes it seems that there are so few that hop along side and walk beside you, truly.
With those true friends you know whatever twist the road may take, even though you may take different sides of the fork, just around the bend your paths will meet again and it will be just as before.

I had a friend like this.

I met him first when I was a junior officer of the lodge accompanying the oldest member of my lodge and my mentor on an investigation of a petitioner to the Mysteries of Freemasonry. I was the enthusiastic young Brother who wanted to do everything and be everything for my new lodge and raised my hand for any and every voluntary contribution to the Craft that I could.
We came to his place of work, a country club, where he sat us at a room in the back overlooking the harbor of our city, it was a beautiful place, the only other time I had been in a country club was either at a wedding or caddying as a kid. He explained to us that he had heard of Freemasonry through a member of his club that was a member of our lodge and that he had always had an interest in the fraternity. I took a back seat for the beginning of the interview but my exuberance soon took over and I was answering and interjecting myself into the whole process. I was twenty years this man's junior but spoke to him like the wizened warrior monk I thought I was and the crazy thing was he was not taken aback by my young age at all!
Before I knew it, I was a masonic mentor to this man who technically could have been my father. We soon discovered that our paths had many common areas that were too common to be coincidence. Friends, co workers, etc was a long list of "Oh yeah I know him (or her)! How the hell have we not met before." Before I knew it I had a part in raising this man to the sublime degree of Master Mason and gained a Brother and life long friend.
He always said I reminded himself of him as a kid of my age and I wanted to be a man like him of his age! He was kind and wise and versed in his profession and most of all he respected a rapscallion like me. It wasn't the phoney respect you get from some older guys who just are patronizing you to keep you going, but genuine respect of a man to another man who realizes you come from another experience and wants to learn from you regardless of the age difference. We had many similarities; our Irish heritage, our passion, our fire and ice personalities, there were people who either loved or hated us and we didn't care because we were both confident in who we were. I don't know for sure if I bolstered his confidence but I can tell you without a doubt he made me much of the man of who I am if you meet me today.
He was entered, passed, and raised with me on the line and a part of every part, and I say that with this with sincerity, that I have and will always consider him my first and true Master Mason that I was a part of.
As we grew in friendship I discovered just how similar we were in many ways.
We were Irish. (given)
We were traditional. (given)
We were wandering souls. (very Irish tendency)
We sought an anchor for life's travails. (given)
We were conservative. (rare in the Irish world)
We were outspoken. (I won't even go there)

He was there behind me in my highs.
He was fighting for me in my lows.

There were few calls that I walked away from what ever was happening in my busy world to take, but his was one.

He became my rock.
He became my weather vane.
He became my hero.

When I wanted to throw the fraternity to the curb he held me fast. When I wanted nothing to do with my lodge he lulled me back in. He was my hero.

When I learned of his current health crisis I didn't even think that something could happen to this man because he was made of iron and could not be broken. When I spoke to him last, I felt ashamed that I had called to question his health because his positive attitude would prevail against anything that could be thrown against him. Then I received  a horrible text.

I didn't believe it.
I still don't.

Back to the ritual...

My Brethren, we have assembled in accordance with the ancient customs of our Craft to bid farewell to the mortal body and Godspeed to the immortal spirit of him who dwelt a Brother among us.
Brother James Charles Hutchinson. Born: December 11, 1955,  Raised: November 6, 2008, Passed to the great beyond: March 1, 2015.
Ours is a ceremony, not of grief and despair, but of faith and hope. 
These last rites we accord Brother Jim signify only our parting with his flesh, from which the immortal spirit has achieved emancipation. We perform them serenely, supported by our knowledge that each of us in his time must follow the pathway his soul has taken and, beyond the vale of sorrow, meet again to part no more. Having faithfully discharged the great duties which Brother Jim owed to God, his family, his neighbor and himself, it has pleased the Grand Master of the Universe to summon him into His Eternal presence.
 May the trestle board of his whole life pass such inspection that it may be given unto him to "eat of the hidden manna," and "to receive the white stone with a new name," that will insure perpetual and unspeakable happiness at His right hand. How often, when the day is ended and the sun is gone to rest, we pause to stand in awe, beholding the western sky transformed with a radiance that seems to shine out from the very gates of heaven, a wonderful picture painted by the hand of God, and we are lifted and exalted by the beauty and glory of nature. And when a life's day is ended and a loved one is gone to rest, we are somehow lifted above the plane of our everyday life and our souls are permitted to catch faint gleams of the ineffable glory of that spiritual world, and we are comforted with a new assurance that: 
"There is a mystic borderland that lies just past the limits of our workday world.".

I love and miss you my Brother,
until we meet again.