The Old Past Master got to Lodge unusually early that evening. He had a hunch that there was going to be some feedback to the heated exchange that had occurred at their last meeting. As always he tried to make himself available for counsel without ever offering an opinion unless asked for. That had not been the policy of Past Master Sinclair who got up at the business meeting two weeks ago and lambasted the Lodge members for non-participation in Lodge events and programs. For fifteen minutes PM Sinclair harangued the Brothers on the past glory of the Lodge and how they were not living up to the standards of the good old days. After the meeting you could see that some of the Brothers were tight lipped while others left early rather than staying for fellowship as they usually did.
This was definitely not the Old Past Master’s style. He never offered an opinion unless he was asked. But he had to admit that Past Master Sinclair was right. Lodge participation was way down. The Brethren seemed almost lethargic and disinterested. And the new Master was young and so full of grandiose plans and programs. It definitely was an open sore that was festering. He had been giving the whole matter some serious thought himself.
As he came into the parking lot the Old Past Master could see that the Master’s car was already parked in its usual spot but all alone. Nobody else had arrived yet. When he entered the Lodge Worshipful McKinney was deep in contemplative thought starring at a blank wall.
The Old Past Master said nary a word but sat down and opened his briefcase and pored over some papers he had pulled out. Five long minutes went by with not a word spoken.
“Why”, exclaimed Worshipful McKinney. “ Why me Lord? What have I got myself into”?
The Old Past Master just continued to shuffle his papers.
“Well aren’t you going to say anything”, Worshipful McKinney broke the silence with.
“Only if you want me to.”
“Of course I want you to. I have been waiting for you to say something for weeks now.”
“And I have been waiting to be asked.”
“Well Past Master Pelham has not been shy about giving me advice. When I told him that I was going to telephone all the Brothers and remind them of the next Lodge meeting and the programs we were working on, he told me that was absolutely the wrong strategy. He said that a Mason is obligated to come to Lodge and to participate and he shouldn’t have to be reminded of his duty. Once you start that you will never get anything done unless you do it all the time. Besides it is not fair to the next Master to saddle him with such a laborious task every month.”
“Yes I have heard Past Master Pelham pontificate on the proper way to run a Lodge.”
“So what do you think of what he said”?
“It’s not my business to critique everybody else’s view. You have to be your own man, Worshipful.”
“Now you are the first person to tell me that. Does that mean you will not offer up any advice”?
“Of course I will if you want me to and you ask me for help. I would not be a Mason if I were unwilling to help a Brother in need.”
“Well what would you do about this listlessness in the Lodge and the non participation by the Brothers”?
“Well if you are asking me I would listen to everybody and then take a course of action that I thought would be most successful. It might not fit exactly what I wanted or be part of my vision but it would be what most of the Brethren desired and would sign onto.”
“Then you would let the Brethren rule the Lodge.”
“Absolutely not. But what I would do is incorporate my vision into their vision at the same time realizing the limits of what can be accomplished and the reality of the complexity of life.”
“You are saying I am too ambitious. What are the Brethren not signing onto and what will they embrace”?
“Well, Worshipful, I don’t mean to be unkind, but you show signs of ‘I’m the brand new Master and I’m going to conquer the world syndrome.’ You have initiated a whole plethora of projects and programs for the Lodge to do. It’s not that I don’t like what you are doing but Lodge should not be a burden it should be a joy. Remember that Lodge is not a job. We are all volunteers, here to celebrate life.”
“I like the way you say that. So I should not have any special projects or programs? Are you saying I should eliminate them all”?
‘Not at all. What I am saying is that quality counts more than quantity. Sometimes it is better to do one thing up proud, extra special, then to do three things rather ordinarily.”
“What would you do with the rest of the time”?
“Well let me leave you with this thought because I see others are now arriving. It’s not what you do it’s who you are. Sometimes it’s all about just being not just doing. We are human beings not human doings.”
The Brethren arrived and got Lodge ready to open. The Master can be seen on his cell phone after which Lodge opens in the usual manner. Before Master McKinney can get to the usual business Past Master Pelham rises and says, “I would like to add some further thought to the debate we had at the last Lodge meeting.”
“Not tonight”, replies the Worshipful
“But I think we need to……………”
“I don’t think continuing such a discussion is in the best interests of the Lodge”, Worshipful McKinney states a little more forcibly.
“Worshipful are you telling me I can’t speak”?
“Precisely Brother Pelham. Please sit down.”
“Now for the next five minutes”, continues Master McKinney I would like you to sit in total silence and think of everybody in this room and remember what you admire about them the most. Then after five minutes of silence I would like to hear from each one of you.”
After what seemed more like twenty minutes Worshipful McKinney broke the silence with, “ OK the East will entertain some thoughts from the Brethren. Who will go first”?
The Old Past Master got up and said how much he admired Brother Sinclair and his passion for the Craft. “It is very rewarding and heartwarming”, he said, “To know that we have one in our midst who cares so much.”
Another Brother rose to speak, and right on his heels another, then another and another and……………well before you know it almost two hours had flown by.
Worshipful McKinney then said, “I will entertain a motion to have the Master and Wardens pay all bills, that the reading of the minutes be postponed until next meeting and that all correspondence be tabled”
“I so move”, came from the Craft
“Second”, replied another
“After we close Brethren I have placed an order of pizzas at the Star Bar and Grille and I respectfully request your presence there for fellowship”, The Master announced.
“Now is there any other business to come before this Lodge before I proceed to close”?