Master of my Domain
I’ve never quite understood why most lodges in Connecticut – indeed, in New England – close down for a couple of months in the summer. This is generally – and erroneously – referred to as “going dark”, an expression that should only be applied to lodges that actually give up their charter and close for good. I’m sure that there was some Yankee economy involved in this, but nobody has been able to explain it to me.
But getting ready for the summer break was the reason that Dave (the best SW east of the Mississippi), and I were sitting in the lodge after our St. John’s Day observance, eating donuts, drinking coffee, and speculating on the low turnout of brothers for the service at the historic First Congregational Church on the town green across the street from our lodge building. Graduation parties, involvement with other activities, sleeping late all came up… and suddenly, a question that had been napping fitfully in the back of my brain woke up, stretched a bit, and popped into the forefront of my thought processes.
Did I, um, remember to announce the event in the first place?
For many of us, being the Master of the lodge is our first time in a managerial position, and while we’ve prepared ourselves by honing our ritual work for our new position, learning the proper introduction for the seemingly endless titles of Grand Lodge officers, and getting the phone number of the Grand Lodge secretary, most of us aren’t prepared for the real secret of the Master’s chair: Almost none of the things that were important last year will apply to you this year. That said, you’d think that those of us with years of managerial experience would sail through the year with nary a slip, right?
At this point, perhaps I should further add to my embarrassment and mention that I actually own a business. So much for my own managerial skills. The fact that we make money is a testament to the well-organized and hard-working people who keep me on task. I’ll be the first to admit (albeit only by a slim margin) that “organized” is not one of the words usually used to describe me. This is evident when one sees the number of people each day who keep asking me if I’ve called this person or filled out that form. This is also evident because I see that I’ve gotten way off track from where I was going with this essay.
Anyway, Dave, who is finally getting a little nervous about next year, started talking about some of the projects and plans that he’d like to accomplish, and in listening to him I began to feel a little disappointed in myself for not carrying out all of the plans that I began outlining last year at this time; moreso because he mentioned several of the same things that I had wanted to do, myself.
On the way home I reflected on how things seemed to start going wrong right from the second meeting. Maybe not wrong so much as the normal flubs and fluffs of everyday life seemed to get in the way. I’d planned an EA degree for the second meeting in February, but the candidates hadn’t been available for investigation, which meant that we couldn’t vote in time, and the entire degree series ended up getting pushed out a month. That messed up the scheduling of certain other programs for other nights – not necessarily a bad thing, but one of the goals I had set was to have something interesting at most, if not all of the meetings. I wrote about the several changes of schedule in order to have the MM degree at a lodge halfway across the state; the last meeting before we close for the summer is generally the Awards Night (Ah! That explains why I had the bad mojo!).
But I’ve got the summer off, so now isn’t the time to dwell on what didn’t go right – it’s time to look forward to 4 more months (4 being a number with deep Masonic significance), which for the most part are already programmed. An EA in mid-September, FC in mid-October, the Past Masters MM in mid-November, then elections and the annual meeting in December. We have a dinner scheduled for one of the nights, so that leaves only 2 or 3 “open” meeting nights.
Gosh, re-reading that makes it seem like the year is pretty much over!
I’m not upset that things didn’t go as planned; part of being a grown-up is that we understand that some things are simply out of our control, and we learn to adapt to new situations. On one night when plans fell through a couple of days before the meeting, a brother – one of the several engineers in our lodge – created a set of button controlled lights and we had a Masonic Jeopardy game. Another night, when we should have been having our first EA degree, we ended up with a “mini” awards night, at which a brother presented something to the lodge, and I presented several awards that hadn’t arrived in time for the previous WM to present.
And of course, some things did go well, perhaps even better than planned. We had a St. Patrick’s dinner, which was served by the Rainbow chapter that we sponsor. We had a Cinco de Mayo night, and while I did not wear a sombrero, we did have a visit from a newspaper reporter that was looking to do a story on the local fraternal and civic groups. We gave him so much information that he ended up writing the entire article just on our lodge. And although a local event was rained out, the next night a group of us went to see “The DaVinci Code” as a group – meeting first for some pizza to get us into the mood (The 8 triangular slices being of deep-dish Masonic significance, you understand).
More importantly, I think, is that the lodge overall seems to be functioning smoothly. Officers and members seem to enjoy coming to lodge and attendance seems to increase a bit with each meeting. I never lack for volunteers when I ask for committees to investigate new candidates, plan projects, or take a degree part. In fact, we’ve never had a last minute no-show; the couple of times that an officer thought he’d have a problem, they’d made arrangements with someone else to keep things covered. And after meetings, guys and visitors are always hanging around for hours afterward, talking about Masonry, computers, gossiping, and generally enjoying themselves.
Hmm. The lodge seems to be having fun. That can’t be such a bad thing, right? So I’m going to stop worrying about the plans that didn’t materialize and about the programs that didn’t work. I’ve got two months in which I can take stock of what went right, and to fine tune my plans for the fall.
Now, where the hell did I leave my Palm Pilot?