Saturday, March 8, 2008

Recognizing Brethren

In your rush to celebrate your Masonry don’t forget to recognize those who preceded you. There are some Brothers who have labored long and hard and never received any recognition. When was the last time you recognized the accomplishments of a worthy Brother in your Lodge? Ever said even, thank you?

My Lodge had a number of older super Masons who had done some really remarkable things and the recognition they received was very little. Of course, being the men they were, they never sought any. They were happy having done a good job. I decided that in my two years in the East I would recognize four great Masons of my Lodge, while they were still alive.

The first one you have already met in the first post. Brother George was a man of immense presence. Where he walked men followed. When he spoke men listened. His barbs and sarcasm were unsurpassed for they were all presented with love, the great love Brother George had for his fellow Brethren. And when we roasted him all who attended knew that for the first time we had the upper hand on Brother George. To get things started for the night because Brother George had no idea what was going on, I walked around to the front of the table removing from a large bag one of those aluminum turkey roasting pans. As I brought it out I asked George, “Do you know what this is”? He replied with a quizzical look, “A roasting pan”. “That’s right”, I returned, “And surrounding you are the roasters and you are the roastee.”

Two years after being roasted Brother George passed to the Celestial Lodge above. In a booklet published in 2006 for the 150th anniversary of the Lodge titled “Reflections of the past Twenty Five Years” was this look back at that night.

September 18, 1999
“The Lodge was opened at 6:15 PM for the purpose of roasting Wor. George XXXX.”
“As serious as Masonry tends to be, from time to time.
The All Seeing Eye has a twinkle or two within.”

“There were many individuals who spoke about Wor. George this evening. The talks were fast and furious and at times hilarious. However, not all of the speakers were of high rank. George touched the lives of many people, most of who had no titles at all. Many subjects were talked about, most of a humorous nature, and many stories of a man who lived a humble Christian life, but went out of his way to make another Brother feel comfortable if his religion was unlike that of the other Brothers. To write about all of the topics discussed at this evenings gathering would take up much time. We talk of a man who lived a full life, for those of us who remember him, or perhaps some of us who shared one of his many Masonic adventures, we all share a secret Masonic smile, to the others, we shed a silent tear for the loss of this truly unique man.”
“A very, very, very large card was circulated around the banquet hall and signed by ll those in attendance this evening.”

The second Brother was RW Ted. Ted was the founding Director of the Colonial Degree Team and with Brother George the remaining original members when the Degree Team was started in 1975 as a celebration of our country’s bicentennial. Brother Ted and Brother George were best of friends. Brother Ted was at this point the Degree Team Historian. His twenty five years of continuous service to the Degree Team was very instrumental for its success.

I organized a special celebration to honor this man only telling him that it was to be a celebration of the twenty fifth anniversary of the Degree Team. Close by was one of the oldest taverns in the USA having operated continuously since the early 1700s as a tavern. I booked the second floor and invited all the Degree Team members and their wives along with the District Deputy and his officers. All the Brothers came in their Colonial Degree costumes and some of the women came in colonial dress also as did all the waitstaff. We enjoyed the adult beverage of our choice and a delicious catered meal. Afterwards we clued Brother Ted on why we were really there and many Brothers stood to pay tribute to Brother Ted. On behalf of the Lodge I presented him with a gift which he brought to the next meeting of the Lodge proudly showing it off, a grateful man always.

The third Brother was Wor. Ray. Ray was my secretary as Master and as every Master comes to realize, a good Secretary can make you or break you and is worth his weight in gold. Brother Ray was indispensible with his record keeping, fulfillment of all Grand Lodge paperwork requirements and the printing of our Lodge Notice. He was also very active in the community, in Boy Scouts and his church. Our Blood Drive breakfast always had Brother Ray in the kitchen helping cook. He served as a District officer on more than one occasion and traveled everywhere representing the Lodge.

In his honor we took over a good local restaurant for the evening. His large family all came to see him honored along with the District Deputy and District officers. His wife brought him into the restaurant after we had all gathered there and upon his entrance we all broke into song – “For he’s a jolly good fellow.” In came Ray and he broke into song with everybody else. When the music stopped I asked him who he was singing for and he said “I don’t know but if he is a Mason he is a good fellow”. Then I told him, “That good fellow is you.”

Well the speeches honoring Brother Ray were numerous and heartwarming and we all enjoyed a great meal. Before he rose to spoke I presented him with a gift on behalf of the Lodge. A scant two and a half years later the Celestial Lodge above called Brother Ray for membership therein.

The fourth Brother was RW David. David was in charge of our hospital visitation program for the entire Masonic district. My Masonic District, all eight Lodges, took turns every Sunday escorting the veterans in wheelchairs at the Veterans Hospital to church service. We wheeled them down from their rooms and wheeled them back, afterwards stopping to visit with them for awhile. Before the service all the Masons serving that Sunday morning gathered for coffee and doughnuts with the Pastor. Brother David organized this entire program and during some weekdays you could often find him at the hospital taking care of some special needs for a veteran. Every Christmas Brother David would make sure that the veterans were thought of. The minister who held the service every Sunday was so impressed with what Masons were doing that he joined the Craft.

One year when I was Senior Warden Brother David help organize a special service for the veterans. The Grand Master came out to the church service bringing many Grand Lodge officers and the Knights Templar came in full uniform. Afterwards we retired for a meal at the hospital.

For Brother David I held a prayer breakfast, at least that’s what I told him it was. We met at a neighboring Lodge that served a monthly breakfast and once again Brother after Brother rose to speak about the service of this Brother. The District Deputy came with his officers and spoke at length about how important and how inspiring was this ministry of Masonry Brother David directed. The last speech was left for our Reverend Brother who then led us in prayer. After presenting Brother David a gift he rose to speak and in his usual humble manner gave everybody else all the credit.

These four were outstanding men of my Lodge demonstrating over and over again, time and time again the Masonic principles of Brotherly Love, Relief & Truth. They were Brothers who labored long and hard in the fields of Freemasonry. They deserved to be recognized. Waiting until after they had passed would have been a great opportunity lost, a great chance to say thank you here and now and to experience that great outpouring of love which makes Masonry so extra special.

Celebrating Masonry instills pride and enthusiasm into your Lodge Brothers. It reinforces values and virtues of Freemasonry. It provides for a full Masonic experience rather than the same old, same old. Masonry needs to be done up proudly and those that have made significant contributions to the Craft need to be acknowledged and recognized for their achievements. If you are not enjoying your Freemasonry chances are you are not celebrating it. And if you are not celebrating it chances are you are not recognizing those Brethren that have worked so hard to make the Masonic community which you now take advantage of.

1 comment:

phoenixmason said...

Well said My Brother! Celebrating Freemasonry grounds us in the here and now and helps us to recognize those who have always given back without any desire for approval or attention!