We had just completed the eighth and final Lodge of Instruction of the 2019 Lodge of Instruction season and I was on my way home from Horace Chase Lodge in Boscawen. The feedback that the Grand Lodge Line Officers, District Officers and I had received on this year’s program was very positive and although I was certainly tired, I was elated at our team’s accomplishment. And then it happened.
First, I received a text message. “Morrison Lodge in Northwood is on fire.” No way! It surely is a false alarm. Yet, as I completed my ride home, I was concerned. As soon as I walked in the door, I got the call – the one I was dreading. It was Right Worshipful Dennis Tuttle Jr, District Deputy Grand Master of the 5th District. calling me. Morrison Lodge is Dennis’ home away from home – his Mother Lodge. Dennis had left the Deerfield Fair where he was supporting a fundraiser for the Order of the Eastern Star. He was at the Lodge and reported to me that in fact, the building where Morrison Lodge and Crescent Chapter, OES meet was on fire. He was highly emotional and so was I. I gave him what advice I could muster under these extraordinary circumstances and asked to be updated in the morning.
That night my phone and email lit up. By morning it was all over the news. Sadly, the building was a total loss. A building which had stood as a landmark in the Town of Northwood since 1885 was now gone. It is a devasting loss. The one bright spot is that, except for a first responder who was treated for heat exhaustion, no one was seriously hurt.
Throughout the years, the building had served many purposes. Countless Freemasons were raised there and many Eastern Star members were initiated. The building included a dining room with a stage where entertainment was held. Four generations of Tuttle men have called this place their home away from home. When I was Worshipful Master of Horace Chase Lodge, I always enjoyed my travels to Morrison Lodge– Brotherly Love and Affection were always on full display in that building.
The days following the devasting loss of Morrison Lodge’s building, Masons throughout this Grand Jurisdiction began calling to offer their assistance:
“Morrison Lodge can meet at our Lodge building whenever they want.”
“Is financial assistance needed?”
“How can we help?”
The outpouring of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth has been awe-inspiring.
Since that fateful night, a plan of action has been put in place. For the time being, Morrison Lodge will meet at the home of Corinthian Lodge in Pittsfield. Crescent Chapter will meet at the home of James Farrington-Pleiades Chapter in Rochester. Right Worshipful Chris Busby, member of the Grand Lodge Communications Committee is doing a great job responding to media inquiries. Right Worshipful David Collins is leveraging his expertise by working with the Lodge on an insurance claim.
While the pain that comes from the loss of a home is intense, Morrison Lodge, through Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth, champions on.
Freemasonry not withstanding has still survived.
Regretfully, Morrison Lodge is not the only Lodge to suffer such pain. Not that long ago, the building that was home to Fraternal Lodge in Farmington also fell prey to fire. Yet repairs were made, the building was sold, and through another demonstration of Brotherly Love and Affection, the members of Unity Lodge in Union extended Fraternal Relief by offering their Lodge as a meeting place for both Unity Lodge and Fraternal Lodge. Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.
To relieve the distressed is a duty incumbent upon all Brother Masons.
We have a Brother in the North Country who’s facing a personal challenge as he has been diagnosed with a vicious disease. He’s married and working hard to raise a family, however, because of his health challenge, his job is at risk and he has a difficult road ahead.
Brethren from District No. 8 and his Lodge are conducting fundraisers to help relieve his distresses. Because of your generous donations to the Annual Charity Fund Drive, Grand Lodge was recently able to present this Brother with badly needed funds to help alleviate some of his financial burden. In addition, the Scottish Rite, through the Scottish Rite Almoner’s Fund, has been able to provide an additional contribution to this Brother. No one knows what the Grand Architect of the Universe has planned for this Brother and his family, but through Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth, Freemasonry is doing what it can to help to relieve his family’s distresses.
It’s not always money that is needed for relief. Sometimes a Brother simply needs a shoulder to lean on; a gentle voice to offer comfort and support; someone to runs some errands or provide trips to the doctor. If the need is there, Freemasons are there to lend a helping hand. It is a tenet our profession.
Life has a way of throwing “speed bumps” in our way from time to time. Sometimes those bumps feel more like mountains. But while the sun sets in the West to close the day, we can always look forward to it rising in the East, shining in all its glory. Throughout the ages, when faced with the lowest of the lows, Freemasons have lent a helping hand to help, aid and assist a fallen Brother. We’ve done it before, we continue to do it today and we’ll do it until time shall be no more.
So, my brethren, “What came you here to do?”. To constantly strive to improve yourself in Masonry? Certainly! To relieve the distressed is a duty incumbent upon all Masons. Practice the Tenants of your Profession. You’ll be a better man and a better Mason for it.