BRYCE ON FREEMASONRY
– And what I remembered of them.
After being away a long time, I recently returned to my home Lodge for a visit. Those of you who have followed my writings will remember why I left, primarily due to Freemasonry turning into a good old boys club as opposed to the fraternity it was intended to be (Read: Why I No Longer Attend Lodge).
I went back to see a young man return his catechism in front of the Craft. This was a good man who I was pleased to sign his petition. I am somewhat old school in this regard. I believe if you sign a man’s petition, you should be there for him as he proceeds through the three degrees. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with me and thinks nothing of deserting the Brother.
My friend was joined by three other Entered Apprentices who all returned their catechisms masterfully. I have obviously heard these words many times before and instructed several Brothers in this regard. Needless to say, listening to this was nice, but a wee bit boring. As I sat there, my mind started to drift away to years ago when I was in their shoes and returning my catechisms.
It was a slow night, and nobody was in the north. As I sat there staring at the empty seats, I began to imagine seeing the many Brothers I had known over the years who made Lodge meaningful to me, but had passed away in recent years. There was my old mentor, Rome Scerbo, who I succeeded as Secretary; the three men on my Masonic investigation committee, Bill Brooks, Forrest McQuiston, and Herb Furman; the organist, Bob Haynes, who played “Happy Trails” as we closed the Lodge; Bob Clarkson, the Treasurer who presented me my first Masonic pin; Bill McIntosh (senior and junior) who influenced my Masonic career; Dave Seidel, who was Treasurer when I was Secretary; Alex McColl, an old Scot with a wonderful singing voice; Charles Rongey, the Lodge Historian who taught me a lot about the history of the lodge and the village; and many other side-liners who had served the Lodge in a variety of capacities. They are all gone now, but in their day, they were the movers and shakers of the Lodge.
Back then, when our Lodge meeting was over, it was common for them to sit down, drink coffee, and talk about the Lodge, their lives, and the world around them. It was here I discovered these were the people who truly tended to the business of the Lodge, not the current sitting Master. If there was a problem that needed to be addressed, they took care of it. They leaned on one and other thereby creating an esprit de corps which I admired. Yes, they most definitely spoke “on the level.” These were men of honor, integrity, and teamwork. There was no interest in autocratic rule or accolades for personal glory.
Today though, when Lodge is over, people bolt for the exit. The words spoken in the Lodge room are the same today, but the spirit is different. I am still warmly greeted, but I get the unsettling feeling we are only going through the mechanics of Freemasonry as opposed to living Freemasonry.
I had the great honor of serving as Master for many of the ghosts during their Masonic funeral service. Maybe that’s why I am so sensitive to their spirit and see them sitting in Lodge before me.
Now, I am one of the elders. As I looked around the Lodge room, and heard the catechisms spoken, I noticed there were only three other men attending who served the Lodge longer than myself. Everyone else was much younger.
As I sat in my chair, gathering my thoughts, I thought back to a time when the fraternity meant something more important than a good old boy’s club. People weren’t measured by a Masonic title or fancy apron, but simply by a plain white leather apron, a warm grip, and the word “Brother.”
I hope someone in the Lodge will remember me this way when I finally join the ghosts.
Keep the Faith!
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