This past week I attended two events that struck a chord with me. It reminded me of how I answer the question when people ask me: “Why are you a Freemason and what does it really offer you”?
In Concord I was able to attend a Master Mason Degree where two new Brethren were Raised to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason. Freemasonry, like other fraternal orders has an initiatory process that all members must go through. The ceremonies date back hundreds of years but the lessons they impart stay with the new Brethren for their lifetime. Each time I sit through one of our Degrees I am reminded of the important lessons they impart. Brethren study these Degrees for a lifetime and never attain all the knowledge as it offers so much.
On Sunday in Pelham I attended a Lodge Installation and due to COVID only a few Lodge Members along with the Officers were in attendance. During the Installation the Installing Master who conducted the ceremony, pulled out a Masonic book from the early 1800s and in it he read a specific part of the installation ritual that the Master agrees to. In New Hampshire we are purest at heart and have done little to change the ritual in several centuries. As I sat there listening and contemplating, it reinforced to me the directives that are being given to the officers each time they are installed into office.
These two events reminded me what my answers to several questions:
1) Why are you a Freemason? My answer: I joined because of an interest and a family connection but it was only after I joined that I understood the bond it creates among the members that is not provided elsewhere.
2) What does it offer you? My answer: As an individual I was always searching for a better understanding of the human experience, in short how do I as an individual place in relation to the world. The philosophical aspect that Freemasonry provides to me helps me every day understand who we are as people and what do we have to offer to others. As an officer in a Masonic Lodge, I have learned that my duty is to share this with fellow Masons.
I know to some of this may seem a little deep, but what I described are questions that I have seen Freemasons struggle to answer when asked why they stayed part of our organization for so long. We all have something to offer and for those who become a Freemason it does provide many of those answers.
David S. Collins