Back at Labor on the Disco Degree
While we never really take a vacation from Masonry (or certainly, from being Masons), we did shut down for July and August so that our brothers get a chance to tend their flocks and fields. But September is finally here and on Wednesday evening, Friendship Lodge No. 33 was back at labor.
Regular readers might remember that because our very last meeting of the season we met at another lodge to confer a MM degree, so the last time we actually met in Southington, I threw everyone for a loop (including myself) by opening on the EA degree. Well, since we customarily have an EA on our second meeting in September, I thought I’d keep everyone in practice by opening on the EA again. Having learned from my mistake in June, I let some of the officers know that plan. That has to explain the karmic balance, because right after I did that, in walked the very same District Deputy and Associate Grand Marshal that enjoyed our floor show back in June.
In fact, the word must have gotten around because we also had our Grand Marshal, visitors from several other lodges, and a bunch of guys that hadn’t shown up in a while. Either that, or they came for the delicious chicken dinner, or perhaps the music. Southington has a town Park & Recreation Committee that sponsors weekly (i.e., on Wednesdays) concerts on the green in the town center – the very green across the street from our old, uninsulated building. During June and again in September we get to hear different bands playing rock, blues, bluegrass, country, pop, or – like the other night – 80s and 90s disco.
The meeting was fairly long by Friendship standards, although I’m sure that the entertaining sounds of the band of the week helped us to pass the time. There was a funny moment when, during the closing I noticed that they were playing “Last Dance.” Truth be told, I enjoy all sorts of music, and back in 197*cough cough* one would be as likely to find me in a disco as in one of the many local rock clubs in my area. The biggest problem for me is to not let my mind wander when they crank up the volume outside.
To tell the truth, I had been looking forward to the meeting with mixed emotions: anxiety and dread. Believe it or not, the members of Friendship aren’t regular readers of The Tao of Masonry (although that might be because I haven’t really told them), so most of the brothers didn’t know anything about the summer fiasco with the trench in the front lawn. Fortunately the huge gap between the retaining wall and the side of the building had been filled in and rough graded, so it didn’t look nearly as bad as it did a couple of weeks earlier. Surprisingly, there were very few complaints; I took a few minutes to get everyone up to speed on the progress of the construction during lodge. I’m pleased to say that the filled and graded section blends in well, and by the time that it is finished, visitors to that section of the building will only need to get themselves up a single step to be inside the building. No, it’s not ADA compliant (yet!), but it’s much better than what we’ve had in the past. And of course, when we do get the funds to install a full wheelchair access ramp, we’ll need to do a lot less work to make it compliant.
And on the subject, we do have a few brothers who still manage to negotiate the steep climb from the meeting hall up to the lodge room. For instance, there’s Bro. Joe. Since Joe wasn’t around for the awards night back in June, I was able to present him with a 40-year pin. Joe is a soft-spoken man in his mid 70s, with a great sense of humor and a slow shuffling walk. I called up the SD and asked him to escort Joe to the East to receive his pin. Suddenly envisioning the five minute shuffle to the East, and a similar trek back to his seat, I called the SD back so that he could escort me over to our older brother. I pinned him, managing not to draw any blood, and asked if he had any words of wisdom. “Yes, join the Masons,” he replied – seemingly oblivious to the fact that only Masons were present in the room at the time, “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done in my life, and I’ve gotten so much out of it.” Then he sat down, and the SD escorted me back to my own seat.
Now here’s an interesting thing: I heard a few days later that a couple of people thought I should have allowed the SD to continue escorting the brother up to the East, the reasoning being that the Worshipful Master should show respect for the station by always remaining in the East, compelling others to come to him. This kind of thinking always floors me, although I freely admit that I’m usually more concerned with the spirit, rather than the letter of the law. My only thought was to not make Joe walk any farther than necessary out of respect for his age and concern for his knees. Besides, who the hell’s wearing the hat? Me! As far as I’m concerned, if I’m wearing the beanie, then I get to make up the rules (within reason according to our own Grand Lodge regulations, of course).
Yet, this gave me something to think about for a few days. At each and every closing, one of the very last things that I tell my brothers is that we meet “upon the level”, that is, despite age, rank, career status, community position, personal finances, skills, or other talents, we are all equal to each other. During degree work, I often step down from the East to deliver instruction to new brethren, simply because (at least in my own mind) it works better, and it becomes more memorable because it’s more personable. I don’t feel tied to the chair; as Master of my lodge, the entire room is mine in which to wander, whether to give instruction or to give awards if I so choose. Likewise, the office of the WM commands respect, but never at the expense of another brother. A considerate act is never out of place, and the manifestation thereof brings respect to the chair.
Our meeting finished up without any major incident on my part, and we ended up downstairs munching on cold chicken and warm apple pie. Seems like everyone was as glad as I was to be back.