Doing my part

We are not a secret society. We are not affiliated with the Illuminati. We are not the Knights Templar. We can barely handle a take out order. But we are a fraternity that values faith, hope, and above all Charity. We vow to support one another in our lives and endeavors in an unparalleled commitment to each other. We are Freemasons, the oldest Fraternal Organization in the world.

My great uncle Cyrus was an esteemed Freemason. I rarely saw him when I was younger because he lived a good distance away. But I knew of his extreme generosity. I learned the full extent of this when I attended the reading of his Last Will and Testament. As the attorney read a laundry list of 5000 dollar donations to a series of hospitals, burn units, food pantries and schools I learned that those were his Masonic charities. It intrigued me how a man of meager means could be so generous. So I looked into Freemasonry. I concluded that someday I would pursue it.

It wasn’t until I was in my late forties that I acted on my desire to join.
My kids were older, my marriage wasn’t worth staying home for and perhaps most important, I had just received a life-saving kidney transplant from a co-worker and I wanted to pay it forward. I joined a lodge in my hometown in MA. I chose it because it was close to my current town and I knew many of the members.

It was a small but bustling group of guys and I immediately fit in. The only thing I had to do was reconcile my faith. Freemasonry demands that a man believes in a higher power. No denomination or names required, just no atheists. I came to the conclusion that no man can be arrogant enough to be absolutely sure that there is nothing up/out there and that was enough. Soon after I kneeled at the consecrated altar and took an obligation to simply be a better man.

I jumped in and was thrilled to endeavor in wholesome, charitable and community-oriented activities with some very good men. I got involved with the few skills I had. I cooked at all functions, I organized events and I called guys that hadn’t been in a while and personally asked them to come back. I joined the line of Officers and tried to be a leader as well. I became a popular, well-respected member. I made wonderful friendships that I never would have made had I not sought out this fraternity. It has changed my life in so many ways. It was where I belonged.

Unfortunately, I was a bit of a Pollyanna in one respect. I thought that ALL Freemasons were man of impeccable character. I soon learned how wrong I was. Most, a good 85% are indeed great men. But some are Masons for the wrong reasons, seeking social stature or just enjoy titles. My biggest disappointment was that politics exist within our walls as well because we are, after all, just mortal men.

Mortal men are capable of gossip, they lose interest, make promises they fail to keep, struggle with personality differences, grapple with resentment and grudges, and can be petty and unrelenting. It goes against everything we strive for but it happens, even in a room that is dedicated to be different than the world outside its walls. This has happened in my own lodge.

But in recent years, membership has fallen way off, attendance is down and we are in trouble.

I missed almost all of last year due to my move (I’m 100 miles away from the lodge now). I went a few times but I had to drop out of the officer line due to my health and distance and created a gap for them to fill. They couldn’t. The failure of others to step up and fill mine, and other vacancies in addition to failure to collect dues put our Lodge in Receivership. In essence, Grand Lodge has us on probation and we either get it together or we sell our building, lose our charter and merge with another lodge.

The brothers charged with handling our rebuilding/probation asked me if I would re-join the officer line. They felt that my presence would help to galvanize the membership. But it would not come without sacrifice. It would require me to drive to MA once a month for 10 months of the year. 200 miles round trip and I would have to find a place to sleep. Reluctantly, I agreed.

I decided that if my lodge needs me I will do my part. I will find a way to make a weekend out of it. My dialysis schedule actually permits it. I have it on Saturday and then have 2 days off. I can go down Sunday and see two of my kids on the way down. I can then stay at my buddy Jeff’s house Sunday night and see my other two kids on Monday. The meeting is Monday night and I can drive up after. It’s a commitment on my part but I’m willing to ake it because Freemasonry, and my lodge, means that much to me. Also, it does give me something to look forward to and plan for. That is something we Chronically Ill need to keep going.

Last night I was installed Senior Warden of my lodge. My next step is Master. At which time I will assume leadership of my beloved lodge. My first priority will be that my members always remember that they made a commitment to God, their brothers and themselves that they would strive to be better men. While this implicitly implies that they should work towards being better than their former selves, I also hope to inspire them to step up, to be accountable, to get involved and to not wait for others to do it.

That’s what the people outside our walls do, and we as Freemasons need to do better. I’m doing my part, some think I’m doing more than my part. Again, it means that much to me.

42 thoughts on “Doing my part”

  1. Congratulations, Billy, what a great honor for a great man! No one is more deserving in my opinion than you.
    The younger generation is to self absorbed and narcissistic to even consider a fraternal organization such as the Freemasons and I personally think it’s an utter tragedy.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. The Eastern Stars is a fantastic organization for young women also. The problem is finding any young “ladies” with enough of a moral compass and upstanding character to even be considered for this wonderful sisterhood.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. For many, many years I dreamed of becoming one myself. It appears although I DO have wonderful qualities (believe it or not), my character is not quite above reproach as I feel the ladies of our local Eastern Stars are.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I am so glad you wrote this post, some questions have been answered. And, yes, congratulations on your “achievement” (is that the right way to phrase it?).
    What I’d like to read from you now (in the future) is an analysis of why you think men who join this fraternity don’t live up to the commitment…besides the obvious ‘excuse’, we’re too busy.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There’s an idea for my next post. And as far as the “achievement” is concerned, it’s more of a show of faith by my lodge that I can lead and it is a big committment on my part as I move forward

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I can imagine no better leader; congrats to you and to them! 🙂

    On a similar note, about 6 or 7 years ago I was asked by a bowling partner to join the Elks, and the entire bowling team decided to do so. I toured the facilities with my buddy, played in a couple of poker tournaments, drank at the bar (cheap drinks!) and made some contacts. When I was finally handed my membership packet I read it over and declined. You can guess why. 😉

    When I explained it to my friend and the acquaintances I had made they said “fake it, some of us did.” I told them that didn’t sound like me at all but I’d be happy to reconsider if they could overlook that one stipulation…

    We never came to terms. 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Was it a religious objection?
      I had to reconcile that part of my life in order to join Freemasonry. I would never join a fraternity dedicated to morality and honesty on a lie.
      They only require a belief in a higher power, no denominations or names needed. I decided that no man can say for sure that there is nothing out there so I opened myself up to spirituality

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, they required the same statement of belief as the masons. It would have been dishonest of me to proclaim such a thing, for I have no such belief. Don’t get me wrong, I pass no judgement upon anyone that has that belief, or just wants to state it to get past the initiation, but it would be against my own code of honor, such as it is. 😂

        It worked out for me in the long run. The guy who sponsored me turned out to be a real negative drain and I had to release him from my circle a couple of years later. C’est la vie. 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Thanks, Bill. I know a lot of my replies end up being anecdotes about my own life, but I hope you understand that the reason for that is that your story makes me think about my own. Postings that touch each other enough to bring out our own stories and emotions are the best kind, in my opinion. So when I relate something you do back to something I’ve done I mean it as the highest compliment. You’re the best, man. Congrats again!

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Congratulations on graduating to Senior Warden, although I must admit. It sounds like you a position that belongs in a correctional facility. Your dedication to service is admirable, and I think you are part of a dwindling breed of folks who believe in giving back.

    Liked by 1 person

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