W. Bro. Tom Coste, of Cleveland's Halcyon Lodge, writes in to tell us "This is Who I Am." Thanks, Bro. Tom!
I bring salutations from the North Coast of America. I was raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason in Sept on '01. By June of '02, I had entered the Order of Knight Templar, which meant that I had received the Royal Arch degree's between November and March, then traveled to Pennsylvania to receive the first two degrees in Cryptic masonry; select master and royal master in one day, where Pennsylvania and Ohio companions put on the first two degrees. It was a beautiful experience to take part in the first two council degrees in such a manner. I then received the final degree of Council and then it was off the Commandery. In amongst all the York Rite degree's, Ohio, in '02, held their first one day class. My Lodge brought in 12 men in that first one day class, and I mentored a couple of guys for this, and at the end of the MM Degree, the Scottish Rite conferred the 32nd degree for all Master Masons who wanted it, then off to the Shrine to become a Shriner.
So, by June of '02, my daughter was born, my father had gone through 4+ surgeries (I live next door to my parents; my father is wheelchair-bound from his surgeries), I was sitting in the JD seat, I was a Knight Templar, a 32nd Degree and a Shriner! Wow!
I also got roped into a Masonic Bowling League that met every Wed as well.
So, I had Blue Lodge every Thursday, bowling every Wed, Shrine 1 Monday a month, Chapter 2 Friday's a month, council 1 Monday a month, Commandery 1 Tues a month and learn officer material for Blue Lodge. Oh, yeah, and run and operate a family business that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!
By December of '04, I was installed as Worshipful Master of my Lodge. I donated time and product to various Masonic bodies and functions. I was known and accepted in all the Masonic circles. When I was inspected as Master, we were inspected in the Master Mason degree. We had over 100 masons present, a PMWGM and many Past and Present DDGM's were in attendance. I did the whole degree from beginning to end, played King Solomon and then handed the Lecture off to our Lecturer. We had a huge dinner, a retirement party for our DDGM John Whitehouse and a standing ovation for our Fellow Craft Team. It was the highlight of my Masonic experience thus far.
Since retiring from the East, I have joined another Blue Lodge that was lacking Masonic experience and education, so I dove into helping any way I could in the development of this Lodge. I tried to instill some tradition and focus on masonry that I had learned in my fast travels through the masonic bodies. It was a joy to be involved in the instruction and the raising of young men with no Masonic history. At this Lodge, none of us had Masonic lineage, so our ideals of masonry were fresh and new. We were open to new things and had the initiative to bring the Lodge forward into the 21st Century. It was a hard task that also involved the rehabbing of the Temple that was left to ruin. So, the revitalization of a Lodge and a Temple was another satisfying experience with Brothers all on the same page with a common goal.
A common desire and goal amongst a group of men can accomplish many things. Even things that seemed impossible to some others can be possible to the right, motivated group of men and Masons. Plus, the young men of this Lodge were not racists or bigots, whereby initiating men of all colors and faiths into their Lodge, before it was really practiced. The young men were also excited about associating with the Prince Halls in our area. We attended many of their rituals and they helped out with ours. The Prince Hall Masons were some of the most polished Masons and took Brotherhood to another level.
With my new involvement in this Lodge, I focused all my time and energies into this, and dropped my associations with the Scottish Rite (it was a bunch of bad plays to me and no real further Light), dropped out of the Shrine (bad management and too much backstabbing amongst Brothers), dropped out of Commandery due to differences in integrity. I also do not believe that "Christian Orders" serve a place in Freemasonry.
I dropped out of Council because it was basically in need of rehabbing in my area and I had no energy for that. I loved their degrees, but believe that this material and the Royal Arch should be Educational Material for Blue Lodge instead of Title-bearing bodies. I dropped my involvement in my other Blue Lodge due to a resistance in helping Brothers in need at my other Blue Lodge. The brothers at my second Blue Lodge were having troubles and reached out to my original Blue Lodge for help and counsel, but were turned down and that really bothered me that masons and men would turn their backs on Brothers in need? It was not a difficult decision for me, especially when I was approached by a Past Master who warned me that my Masonic Career would be in "jeopardy" if I continued to get involved in this other Lodge's issues.
First, I did not join masonry for a career; second, I did not join masonry to turn a blind eye to potential shenanigans. Then, by the small threat of not getting into the Royal Order of Jesters (alluding to my Masonic Career) that operates out of the Shrine, I was more determined to get to the bottom of this situation and not be deterred, especially if it has Masons trying to discourage me from getting involved. I am glad I did get involved, because myself and a group of young, industrious Freemasons saved a Lodge and a Temple from being discarded into a rubbish heap. A ton of hard work, education and fortitude carried us onward in the face of perceived, intentional subterfuge by the leaders of our area. Without any outside help from our Brothers in the area, we battled for our rights and stood our ground on the principles of right and seem to have landed on our feet, for now.
The future looks bright, especially when one opens the Doors of the Temple to finally allow Light into it! We are going to make a difference in the community and it is exciting to actually have a plan on how to go about it. By helping the community to raise its consciousness level about "all of mankind" and how important the exposure to the Arts and Sciences are for the less privileged youth in your community, we can all transmute ourselves into higher evolved beings, which will make the environment in which the Temple resides one of education and enlightenment for all; not just the Masons who reside within the Temple. And that, my Brothers, is hopefully the application of Freemasonry upon your environment.
— Brother Tom Coste
Past Master of Rocky River No 703
Treasurer of Halcyon 2
To submit your own "This is Who I Am" essay, read this.
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