By Worshipful Brother John Bartoszak
Master of Humane Lodge No 21, Rochester
I have learned a lot from traveling throughout the jurisdiction and beyond. I have found that there are differences between jurisdictions, districts, and even subtle differences from lodge to lodge. Those differences define who we are and should never be relegated to history. Maintain your lodge traditions, provided they do not conflict with Grand Lodge. Take as an example, in Humane Lodge 21 we not only use a Chamber of Reflection but celebrate it. An antiquated aspect of Freemasonry, Humane reinstated it, and have found it to add a new level of sublimity to the Entered Apprentice degree. It’s different, while not changing or conflicting with Degree ritual, and gives the new initiate a unique perspective when they begin their Masonic journey.
Another benefit of traveling is the feeling of belonging. No matter what lodge I travel to, I am accepted as a friend and honored guest. I can vividly remember walking into Mt. Lebanon Lodge in Laconia, unknown to anybody, and being greeted as a lifelong friend. It was like I was a member of their lodge. “Grab a plate and have a seat, Brother.” One of my homes away from home, Winnipesaukee Lodge No. 75 in Alton, is a great place to visit. They always have a program during the Stated Communication and a great meal. Federal Lodge No. 5 in Dover is another interesting place to visit. Their programs are generally more conversation than presentation. Sometimes starting as a book report and turning into a debate on the meaning of symbols in the lodge.
If you have been a Mason for 30 or 40 years you can probably open a lodge without thinking about it. You’ve seen the opening hundreds of times. As a newer Mason, if you don’t travel, you can see the opening ten times a year. You can double that if you travel once a month. Go to one lodge a week and you’ll see the opening forty or more times a year. After a few years, you won’t have to study to open a lodge, you will already know how to. Sure, you’ll probably want to study anyway, but you will have heard and seen it so many times that it will flow in your memory. You can then own the ritual, and not be robotic in the delivery. You’ll be able to make it interesting and fresh for your membership.
You never know when you will run into a Brother. I was in Sloppy Joe’s in Key West, enjoying an adult beverage when a gentleman asked me if I was a “Traveling Man”. I said, “Sure, I just drove down from NH”. He pointed at his ring and asked again “No, are you a Traveling Man?”. The light bulb lit up bright and we had an hour-long masonic conversation in Key West.
Travel; you won’t regret it.
Yes, I am a Traveling man.