Close your eyes for a moment and think back to that time when you first entertained the idea of becoming a Freemason. Do you remember how you felt? Excited? Anxious? Curious? Adventurous? I suspect it may have been a bit of all those emotions. So, you took a leap of faith and started your Masonic journey.
Let’s be clear. You didn’t “join” Freemasonry. You were accepted into our Ancient Craft. This acceptance should be viewed as a great honor, and one not to be taken lightly. You have a strong tradition to uphold – in this Grand Jurisdiction, men have been proudly accepted into our Fraternity for the last 230 years! It is your duty to both uphold this tradition and better yet, to thrive in it. Your Masonic experience should be a “journey of a lifetime”. Whether you are relatively young or not so young, it is my hope that your Masonic experience has become a “journey of a lifetime”, filled with many precious memories. Regardless of rank or privilege, it should be every Mason’s goal to ensure fulfillment for you and your brethren.
So how do we get there? How do we ensure fulfillment for ourselves? How do we help our fellow man? Please consider the following.
Where are you in your Masonic journey? Let’s start at the beginning. Your journey likely began when a Mason you knew signed your petition for membership. He is referred to as your “first line signer”. A first line signer’s job is not complete when the ink on your petition dries. His job is to get your journey off on the right foot. He should ensure that someone is assigned to assist you in learning your lessons. He should be sure you are aware of the Masonic calendar and encourage your frequent attendance. He should offer you a ride to Masonic events and sit with you to help explain what’s happening. In summary, your first line signer should be lending a helping hand; guiding you through a seamless introduction to our Ancient Craft.
Congratulations! You’ve just been raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason. To this point, you have been the center of attention at your degrees. Now it’s time for your fourth meeting. Don’t be surprised if the center of attention shifts away from you as Masonry in your Lodge marches on. But don’t be shy. Get involved. Let your first line signer and your Worshipful Master know that you want to be an active Mason.
There are plenty of ways to get the “new guy” involved.
- You can assist with degrees. You can take a walk-on part (i.e. craftsman in the Master Mason Degree) or assist with a speaking part (i.e. a portion of a Degree History or Charge).
- Partner with your Lodge Historian. Perhaps you can help with a program explaining the history of your Lodge. This has a dual benefit – not only does it keep you engaged, but it expands your Masonic Education. Assist in the kitchen. I’m sure your Stewards would appreciate the help. And when serving a meal, it’s a great way to meet your new Brethren.
- Offer to serve on Investigating Committees. Learn from those who have experience interviewing applicants. It’s another great way to meet new people and to travel.
- Expand your Masonic Light. Offer to meet with the District Deputy Grand Education Officer for advice on recommended reading material. Look for Lodges offering Masonic Education programs and travel to them (and bring a brother with you!). Perhaps you may even want to ask your Worshipful Master if you can present a Masonic Education program during a Stated Meeting in your own Lodge.
Another point I can’t emphasize enough is the value of travel. Whether you are a relatively new Mason, well along your Masonic journey, or a seasoned veteran, travel keeps you engaged and informed. You would be amazed at what you can learn by visiting other Lodges. See how they perform their degrees. For the most part, degrees performed in Lodges throughout our Grand Jurisdiction are the same, but there are subtle twists. See them for yourself, and report back to your Lodge on your likes and dislikes. Another benefit of traveling is the opportunity to bond with your Brothers. True brotherhood is formed both within and without the four walls of the Lodge room. Encourage carpooling, offer to drive, or get invited to ride along.
Perhaps you’ve been away from your Lodge for a while. Much has changed in the last decade.
We encourage you to come to check us out. For some time now, Grand Lodge has been encouraging Lodges to get away from standard business formats at their Stated Meetings and to enhance their value to the membership. Lodges are now forgoing the reading of minutes in lieu of offering Masonic Education Programs. Lodge meetings are put at rest so that brethren can hold open discussions on topics ranging from: “Guarding the West Gate”, Masonic symbols, the relevance of Masonry in society and ways in which your Lodge can give back.
Lodges are also getting creative with the use of music. We all can appreciate how music can enhance a Masonic experience. With the decline in the availability of organists, Lodges are taking a different approach. Some are using technology to play music on phones or other devices. Some Lodges are leveraging the musical talents of its members. I know of one Lodge where a member (who happens to be a Past Grand Master) uses his guitar to strum a marching sequence. The bottom line is that Lodges are getting creative in ways to help positively enhance your Masonic journey.
Now let’s step outside the four walls of your Lodge. There are countless ways that you can enhance your Masonic journey through community involvement. Encourage your Lodge to help in the community. Paint a fence at the local cemetery. Rake leaves at a local park. Clear snow from fire hydrants. March in the Old Home Day parade. And when doing so, let them know you’re a Freemason by proudly wearing your Masonic hat, shirt, and/or ring. Post your activity with local news outlets and social media. Let them know that Masonry is alive and well in your community! Not only will your community benefit from your efforts, but you will be enriching your own personal Masonic experience.
Brethren, you are Freemasons for a reason. Your Masonic journey should be one that charts a series of milestones that help to grow you as a person, filled with enriching memories along the way. Make the very best of your journey. Don’t wait for someone else to ask you to get involved.
It’s your journey, so make the most of it!