From EA to WB
It’s the joyous season here in Connecticut… no, not the season that you’re thinking of; that’s passed already. Sweaters and blenders have been returned, the last of the turkey, ham, or goose has been eaten, and there are more needles on the carpet than on the tree. No, as the Masonic year generally coincides with the calendar year (give or take a month, depending upon the lodge), it’s now Installation season. Out with the old and in with the new!
The Installations of officers are often semi-public events here in Connecticut. I can hear some of our brethren in other areas gasping for breath, but really, now that we’ve pretty much shown everything on the History Channel and You-Tube, why is this an issue anymore? In my area, the “secrets of the chair” are imparted several weeks beforehand, which obviates one of the needs to hold an Installation in a tyled lodge. Just before the Installation ceremony itself, the lodge is tyled and the outgoing Master opens the lodge for the last time and then goes to Refreshment. The then fun begins, and afterward, the new Master closes the lodge.
Some members still prefer a closed ceremony, but I submit that it’s a great way for a man to introduce his friends and family to his lodge; if only to show that his brothers and fellow members are a great bunch of guys to work with. Indeed, most new Masters are rather proud to have been elected to lead a lodge, and it’s quite natural for them to want to show it off. Accordingly, Installations – at least for those who have not done it several times over – are often held on a weekend and a large reception party is held afterward.
I was Master in 2006, which means that I’ve been out of an office for almost as long as I’ve held an office. This makes me “a moss-backed, old turtle” according to some members of Friendship Lodge, several of whom had better be careful or I’ll smash their tail lights with my walker. But having been out of office for a while is giving me some interesting perspectives on why Past Masters develop the not-totally-undeserved reputation that invariably follows them. These new guys are, well, new, dammit! They do things differently than I did. I worked hard at changing some of the old, boring, inefficient things that Masters before me had done, and now, these upstarts come along and change things that I did.
And good for them! Friendship is an active lodge with a lot of younger members who are generally happy to participate. For years now, we’ve had every officer’s chair filled, and have often had a backlog of people waiting to get into the officer’s line. I can’t imagine that people around here are interested because we keep doing the same old thing all the time.
Some time between Christmas and New Year, we installed Brother – Worshipful Brother Eric into the big chair. I’m very proud of WB Eric. He is one of the first people that I, as a new officer, helped to conduct around the lodge. Now, understand that I’m not a particularly large guy. When I met Eric, he was a very young, very nervous, and very big guy. My job was to guide him through his initiation, which involved wrestling him around the small lodge room, and trying to keep a grip on his arm through the copious amounts of sweat. Think “tugboat” and “ocean liner”, and you’ve got the picture.
Anyway, after having my tux cleaned, Eric and I became friendly. It’s been a pleasure to see him go from being nervous and shy, to becoming a planner and organizer, and someone who can talk about his goals and aspirations. When I was a Junior Warden, Eric was at my right hand, and remained there until I was out of the East, passing from Senior Steward to Junior Deacon, to Senior Deacon. Each year, each position, saw a little growth and maturity, and I’ve been proud of him ever since.
Look well the the East, Worshipful Eric. I’m sure that you’ll do a great job.