Friday, May 25, 2007

Widow's Son goes back to his lodge

Back on May 13, I wrote about my "conversion on the road to Damascus" that happened earlier that day, when my anger towards Bro. Grady Bozeman and the events he and others set up against me in my lodge just lifted, vanished, disappeared.

It's been nearly two weeks, and not once have I had even a moment of anger towards or about anything. Not a single time have I felt that once-common emotion. Not towards traffic. Not towards people who can't figure out self-checkouts at the grocery store. Not towards jealous drama queens (I'm single). Not towards my ex-wife (I'm divorced). Not towards the neighbor's three dogs that bark all night. Not about the news. And certainly not towards anyone from my lodge.

It's as if I've been "enlightened."

But as the Zen proverb goes: "Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water."

Life goes on.

(I notice that only two readers here who participated in the "Who are you?" poll said they were members of my lodge. I was one of them, since I clicked on it when I installed it to test it. I know who the other one was. So I guess it's safe to assume — LOL! — that no one else from my lodge reads this blog, so nothing I say here could possibly hurt anyone's feelings.

No, seriously — I know several of my lodge brothers follow the Taper; I wonder why they won't admit it.)

In my May 13 post, I said I would be going back to my lodge. And I did, last Tuesday evening.

I put on my happy face and pretended it was again 2003, when I absolutely loved going to lodge meetings. Even then I knew I was different from many of my lodge brothers, that I was more interested in esoterica and Masonic history and Masonic education than many of them. I also knew how much alike, as humans, we all were. I enjoyed the feeling of brotherhood and camaraderie.

I arrived about 10 minutes before the meeting was scheduled to start. Only one brother, a Past Master of the lodge, was in the anteroom. He was tying on his apron, so I tied on my own. I greeted him warmly, but we didn't shake hands. He said "hello" and quickly went into the lodgeroom.

I walked into the lodgeroom, where perhaps 25-30 brothers were either milling around or already seated. I greeted each of those already seated in the southwest end of the lodge with a big smile and handshake. Many were new faces to me. Two of my elderly brothers-friends beamed when they saw me. It was a good feeling.

At the end of the row, just west of the Junior Warden's chair, was a Past Master, one of the three involved in what I termed "The Masonic Ambush" back in early 2005. I smiled at him and greeted him by name, prefacing it with "Brother."

In what I can only describe as a sighing, exasperated, eye-rolling slump he reluctantly shook my hand and said "hey" (or "hi" or "hello," I can't remember).

Bypassing the empty Junior Warden's station, I approached the second and third members of the ambush squad. I smiled and greeted them. The first acted very pleased to see me. The second had a look of outright hatred or disgust when he saw me, and didn't speak. I shook his hand anyway.

Before I could move further down the line, the first of the two Past Masters said to me, "What's this about you putting stuff on the Internet? Didn't you put something there recently?"

I assumed he'd heard about my article where I said I didn't like Bro. Bozeman and that he didn't like me. "I write something online nearly every day," I replied.

"You shouldn't. You shouldn't be talking about Masonry. It's bad! It's bad! It's bad for Masonry."

"I happen to think it's good for Freemasonry."

"You shouldn't be talking about Masonry to the public. It's bad!"

He then recited, "I will not speak ill of a brother Master Mason...."

"I only write things that are true. That's not speaking ill of...."

"Yes, it is," he blurted.

"How many ill things have you said about me in the past 18 months, Bro. _____?" I asked.

He froze. For two or three seconds he didn't respond.

Then he said, "Two wrongs don't make a right."

About that time, the Worshipful Master banged his opening gavel, so I sat back and smiled.

I was glad to be back.

I was very impressed with the dignity and authority of this year's Worshipful Master. I had served on his investigating committee, and he had followed me through the chairs. He was Senior Deacon when I was Junior Warden. I was proud of him.

I didn't know any of the floor officers.

I had served as Master during the EA degree for the man acting as Junior Warden. It was good to see how he had progressed.

It was a nice homecoming feeling for me.

The meeting itself was typical, but I did have to smile to myself a couple of times.

There were several new brothers there, both newly raised and newly dimitted from other jurisdictions. Two newly dimitted brothers stood, in turn, to voice their concerns over the lack of communication from the lodge about lodge events, deaths, etc. They suggested the lodge create a newsletter. After a bit of discussion, which I didn't participate in, no one agreed with the idea. I felt for them.

Another newly dimitted member, a Past Master from another Masonic district, stood in support of them, offering his assistance. As he closed his comments he said, "And I think we need a website."

Silence. Stone cold silence.

The last time either of those ideas were actually enacted, I was the one who did them. If you don't know how that turned out, read "The Masonic Ambush" and "A Day in the Life of a Junior Warden."

Sure, I could have stood up to offer assistance to the brothers on both of those ideas, but I figured, why push it tonight? Peace and harmony, you know.

The year 2007 is the 150th anniversary of our lodge. Back in early 2005 a committee of three men was formed to coordinate events, design souvenir coins, create publications, etc. Bro. Bozeman was one member. I was another. After Bro. Bozeman threatened to press his bogus charges against me, I, of course, was never notified of committee meetings.

The third member of the committee stood to make a motion that the year 2007 be dedicated to Bro. Bozeman's memory. There was one nay vote.

Someone else moved that one of the lodge's three scholarships be named in Bro. Bozeman's honor. Again, there was one nay vote.

Lest anyone suggest here that I shouldn't be talking about what happened in a lodge meeting, I remind you that lodge minutes are kept of things "proper to be written," and that what I've told you here is also in the minutes. The only Masonic secrets are rituals, grips and signs, and you couldn't get those out of me with all the tea in China.

("It's bad! It's bad! You shouldn't be talking about Masonry to the public. It's bad!")

The meeting moved to its close. Before he ended it, the Worshipful Master read a short anecdote about the value of friendship and appreciation of life. It was the first "lecture" or "education" I'd ever seen a Worshipful Master give in my lodge. I was duly impressed by what he read and that he read it at all.

The meeting adjourned, and I was eager to meet and speak with the new brothers I did not know.

But like the Freemasons in the movie Magnolia say, "We may be through with the past, but the past ain't through with us."

Past Master ____ wasn't through with me yet.

He picked right up where he'd left off when the meeting started. More about posting things on the Internet.

"If you have something to say to me, come to me," he said.

"Aren't you the guy who banged his chair against the table and stomped out of a special summoned meeting called by the Worshipful Master to discuss your and _____ and _____'s attempt to go around the plans of the elected officers of this lodge, when someone you didn't agree with rose to speak?," I asked, in so many words.

Wide-eyed, he looked at me as if he didn't remember any of it.

And so it goes.

I did manage to talk with a few of the new brothers after the meeting. Speaking with them gave me new hope for the future of my lodge.

| | | | | |

12 comments:

  1. I think you're always going to find those that feel strongly one way or the other about "discussing" the craft online. Frankly, I see nothing wrong with the vast majority of Masonic blogs out there. If it weren't for these guys, the only 'quick fix' that people would get from the internet would be in the form of conspiracy and anti-masonic material. What good is that? That's absolutely more damaging.

    The fine Masons around the world that are courageous enough to share their personal thoughts, without being revealing, only make the Craft stronger. Not only that, but it expands the fellowship to a whole gigantic diverse population that you otherwise would never have.

    The sad thing is the only ones who read these blogs already know this. Or they are exploring before deciding to commit. How much more emblazoned are our new candidates after pouring over the many good blogs out there? Plenty! I, for one, am a very proud and newly raised, gaining way more understanding online than within my own lodge, having more to do with convenience and busy schedules than the willingness of my fellow Brothers.

    Cheers to our online Brothers I say.

    Suggestion: Why not set aside a time to discuss as a group, including examples and guests who contribute online (other than yourself :) )?

    I recently inquired with our master about setting up a website for our lodge. Many of the lodges around the state already have one, and we are one of the few who do not. He agreed and decided to add it to the next agenda.

    My point of view is that no one knows you exist if you don't have a sign out...so get a sign out! I'm guessing there are many fine men out there looking for something more than just the usual rat-race. At least let them know there is something more.

    Oh, and btw, I'll boldly say that if it weren't for Dan Brown, I'd still be looking myself. Thanks to him (despite his outlandish misrepresentations), I've been introduced to this wonderful craft and have found what I'm looking for. Whoever says you can't take away something from that book, fictional as it is, is effectively turning the light off.

    And guess what...there's many, many more men out there just like me that need the Craft. The internet WILL be the door for most of them.

    With Brotherly love,

    ReplyDelete
  2. From reading these first hand accounts on blogs, I now realize that Freemasons are not taking over the world. Instead, the majority seem to be attempting to make a difference in themselves and in the world around them.

    It is good that you speak about the Craft online. If it was not for this blog and several others, my head would still be filled with anti-nonsense. I would greatly like to petition a lodge in my area, but not until I receive the blessing of my wife.

    With that in mind, writing about it online has to be doing more good than harm.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I went away for a while to come back to some incredible entries.

    Thanks for this post and thanks for doing the right thing.

    keep up the good work.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you for these comments and for your blog. I am currently in a state of disgust with Masonry in my area (Alabama). Maybe at some point I will get over that and go back. I miss some of the good folks, and there are some, and I miss the work. I do not, however, miss the idiots. Anyway, thanks. You're doing a real service with this blog, and I'm grateful for it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Greetings Brethren,

    I check in occasionally and I am always impressed with the issues and material that is posted both by the owner of the site as well as those who respond. It is good to know there are a few of us out there.

    For those of you interested I have begun hosting a monthly Masonic "Salon" here in Toronto for Masons and non-Masons. The simple web page (http://groups.msn.com/thecenterofacircle) contains a brief explanation of the activity of the group.

    For those that are interested I have posted some of the material generated, a presentation summary and a Salon Style Table Lodge explanation that may be of interest. Unfortunately you will need to log in to get access these the resources located in the documents section.

    Keep well Brethren and safe journey.

    S & F, Bro. Kristopher Stevens

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'll be interested to see what comes of all this, Bro. WS. I'm glad to see that you're making your own progress.


    How much more emblazoned are our new candidates after pouring over the many good blogs out there? Plenty!

    As it happens, at least half a dozen of the new members of Friendship have told me that they've been reading blogs and websites to learn about the Craft. They've read my blog, and when that didn't scare them away, some of them came over to read yours, too.

    We like to encourage that kind of thing up here.

    Seriously, while several of the GL officers read the Tao of Masonry regularly, plus various district officers and committee members, I'm really writing for the newer members who might benefit from seeing what can be accomplished. That non-Masons are reading and appreciating it is icing on the cake.

    ReplyDelete
  7. it's always the PM elders who never remember doing anything at all

    same in my world too WS

    ReplyDelete
  8. i had that once. the inability to feel anger. it was from a kundalini rising that i was going through for a second time.

    well it's sunk, because i'm angry about everything now.

    and you're right about the 'Net expanding the fellowship to a whole gigantic diverse population. Although i'm a femmy, due to my most awesome Grandfather, i have been intrigued and influenced by Freemasonry for a very long time, predating Dan Brown, so it is nice that you are here and others like you, so that i can come every now and then for that connection.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm so glad you went back to your Lodge.

    It doesn't matter that some won't want you back in the officer line. In fact, I'm willing to bet that some of the more close minded of your Brethren will warn others away from you and that will just want them to speak to you more. As long as you are at Lodge, you have the chance to influence people there.

    Yea!

    TM

    ReplyDelete
  10. So it ain't changed so why go back?
    Change the present system? LOL.

    It will (in some states) cave in and decay. Holding membership and returning to the place of unMasonic conduct, no real true brotherly love, and no real place that will allow free thinking or enlightenment is a waste of ones time.
    You can't have it both ways either you stay within a decaying system that refuses to change and relive the past and sit quitely by with racist and those men who have preverted Masonry into a old mans coffee meeting. Or boldly leave and make change happen with a whole new system willing to promote Freemasonry and what it truly was meant to be and what it truly IS.

    Remaining a part of a dying fraternal club that contain men who have stabbed you in the back and will continue to do so is like a wife who's husband beats her and she won't leave him.
    It takes backbone to be part of change and change ain't going to happen in 10 GL's not within the next 20 years. So why go back for more of the same?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Bro. David:

    I'm afraid you will never understand why I went back to my lodge until you experience your own "epiphany" like I did two weeks ago, and until you let go of the anger you feel against your former lodge and Scottish Rite brothers.

    In the comments section to my article "An Unexpected Thing Happened Today," which in part said I would be going back, you wrote "Well said and well done. Masonic virtue lives and that is what we need. Negativity tears down the temple of Freemasonry those who can do as you did today truly know that through it all Masons and Masonry survives."

    Here are some reasons I went back:

    * Curiousity, not just about what they were up to these days, but about how I would be received, and about who had newly joined or dimitted in.

    * Perhaps I have a Superman/Savior complex. There are new, younger men there who might benefit from my presence or guidance, so that they won't fall into the same unmasonic patterns that are prevalent there in some of the old guard.

    * I wanted to see how they acted in the first meeting after the death of Bro. Bozeman. I rightly assumed they would attempt to "honor" him, and I wanted to see what they did.

    * I wanted to shake hands with those who had participated in the attacks on me. I wanted to take myself to a higher level, to a state of not being angry with them. By doing so, I increased my own personal enlightenment, and took away any power I had unintentionally given them by being angry with them. Being angry over the past is to be a slave to the past, giving something or someone power over you. I went back to reclaim my own power.

    * I went back because I am a Mason. It is my lodge as much as it is anyone else's. Freemasonry has always had its problems and its infighting. Peace and harmony has seldom ruled for long in any lodge. The problems in Freemasonry are a microcosm of the problems in America, but I'm not going to move to an island in the Caribbean to get away from the problems in the US. Likewise, I'm not going to avoid my own lodge because certain people there don't practice Masonry they way I would like them to do. A lesson, or maybe THE lesson of Freemasonry is to improve oneself. I went back to the lodge to improve myself. Being there may not improve me, but going back there has. Returning there is a Path I have chosen to follow at this moment. I may give up again. Or I may stay and become one of those old grumpy PM's myself. Or, just maybe, my own Light may provide a spark to others.

    Drop your anger, my brother, and live in the Now. Anger gives away your Personal Power, and dims your own Light.


    — W.S.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Dear Bro.,

    I have had a run in with the Master of my lodge (I'm a twice Past Master) regardingemails and internet postings. The resulting conflict ledto an "edict" by the master that none save he or the secretary shall communicate masonically to other lodge members. Grand Lodge, however, decided that the master can only control activities within the lodge, and as long as masonic conduct is observed, outside activity, including websites and such are NOT under the purvue of the Master.

    Having said that, the master is a friend, and I did refrain from antagonizing him.

    ReplyDelete