So, on Tuesday afternoon, Marshal Dave (the best Senior Warden this side of the Pecos) calls me up to give me the news. “I’ve got pneumonia. I’m not going to make the meeting tomorrow night.” He tells me that he’ll call Jim, our Junior Warden, just so he’s prepped. The meeting wasn’t going to be anything much anyway, just normal business matters and a video that I’d picked up from the Grand Lodge media library about the history of ritual . I tell him to get some rest, and we’ll cover it for him. Hey, these things happen, right?
So, on Wednesday morning, Jim calls. “Did you forget that I needed to go to a special Planning & Zoning meeting tonight? I told you last week.” Whoops, I’d forgotten. That’s okay, it’s not that big of a deal. We’ll cover it. These things happen.
So, late Wednesday afternoon, Eric the Senior Deacon and my right hand for the last three years calls me. At least, I’m pretty sure it was Eric; there was a lot of coughing and wheezing and croaking, and I heard the word “bronchitis” somewhere in there. I tell him to stay home and not to infect anyone, especially me. Get some rest, we’ll see you next time, don’t worry, we’ve got it covered. These things happen.
So I leave work a little early, drive to the local orchard to pick up 300 pounds of various vegetables to drop them off at my wife’s church where we will turn them into the ingredients in their annual “Chicken Pie Scholarship Dinner.” On the way, I swing by the house to pick up my tux, and to grab my VCR and wrestle a 50 pound TV set into my back seat. I dropped off the veggies, then drove to the lodge to set up the equipment, and noticed that the lodge TV was actually bigger than mine. Dang. Hey, stuff happens.
We met with a new candidate, who’s brother and father belonged to the lodge that merged with ours fifteen or twenty years ago. I took care of some other pre-meeting lodge business, and then looked at what we had. I’m missing the top three officers under me. I’ve got four Past Masters, one of which was filling in as Chaplain, since the regular chaplain is convalescing from some surgery. Now, in most other lodges, this would have been a no-brainer: put the three PMs in the vacant chairs, right?
Feh! That’s not how we do things in my year!
I walked over to the junior officers to ask them if they felt like stepping up not just one, but two or three chairs. “Don’t worry, Worshipful,” said Ryan, my Senior Steward, “we’ve got your back.” They had already decided amongst themselves that they were up to the challenge. Ryan wanted to take the West, and Gerry – the Junior Deacon – was taking the South. Kevin – the Junior Steward – wanted to take the Junior Deacon’s chair, and Nick – one of our new members – took the Senior Steward’s chair. That left only the Senior Deacon’s chair, which was taken by Eric’s brother Kyle – our Marshal. I need to note that this was exactly the lineup that I would have expected.
So, with my “pro tem” line in their seats and the Secretary and Treasurer in place, we opened in near flawless form on the MM degree (as I noted, for the first time since our degree in June). We even balloted on a candidate before taking care of the usual reports and other stuff. Since it was a short business meeting, we closed in proper form in about an hour, then went downstairs for a break and then to watch the video.
Okay, okay – I know that this doesn’t sound like much of anything to report, but consider: none of the officers were Past Masters going through the line a second or third time. With the exception of Gerry , all of them are in their mid to late twenties (and Gerry has the energy of someone in his twenties). The meeting was not opened with stilted or halting ritual – in fact, I don’t remember any of the officers even needing a prompt. They opened in better form than I’ve seen in most other lodges, including those that seed the line with Past Masters. Seriously, any visitors walking in would never have known that these were not the regular officers in the chairs. How many other lodges could make that claim, I wonder?
I’m not sure I have the words to describe how lucky I have been to have these men in the line behind me this year, but I hope that this paints at least a small vignette of my good fortune.