Monday, November 9, 2009

‘Compass and Compassion’

For 28 years, a barrier made of cheap concrete mixed with rocks stood as a dividing line between West and East. You see, while nobody wanted to travel from West to East, everybody wanted to travel from East to West. But traveling, whether to receive wages or anything else, was not to be where stood the Berlin Wall.

All I really want to say on this 20th anniversary of the breaching of that prison fence is 1) Thank God! and 2) Let Freemasons everywhere consider the Compasses as a symbol.

The national emblem of the German Democratic Republic includes the hammer and compass, a variation of the Soviet Union’s hammer and sickle. Germany was a much more advanced society than backward Russia, so the compass of science made more sense as a national symbol than the obsolete agricultural hand tool.

Of course Freemasonry has Compasses too. Ritually they remind us to circumscribe our passions and to practice secrecy; the Senior Deacon conveys this message to the aspirant, getting to the point right away. One employs the Compasses to draw the circle wherein one stands at its center, never to materially err. As one of the Three Great Lights of Masonry, the Compasses join the Square and the VSL to illumine our world. The legs of the Compasses are elevated with each progressively heightened state of consciousness from First Degree to Third. And so, in the hands of Masonic man, the Compasses embody freedom of thought, freedom of association, morality, and our God-centered psychology with its Light to which we draw nearer.

The Short Talk Bulletin of May 1924 says:

How to use the Compasses is one of the finest of all arts, asking for the highest skill of a Master Mason. If he is properly instructed, he will rest one point in the innermost center of his being, and with the other draw a circle beyond which he will not go, until he is ready and able to go farther. Against the littleness of his knowledge he will set the depth of his desire to know, against the brevity of his earthly life the reach of his spiritual hope. Within a wise limit he will live and labor and grow, and when he reaches the outer rim of the circle he will draw another, and attain to a full-orbed life, balance, beautiful, and finely poised. No wise man dare forget the maxim “In nothing too much,” for there are situations where a word too much, a step too far, means disaster. If he has a quick tongue, a hot temper, a dark mood, he will apply the Compasses, shut his weakness within the circle of his strength, and control it.

In the hands of the communists of East Germany however, the compass represented authoritarian control, the forceful contorting of the human will to gratify the tyrant’s designs for society.

In the hands of the totalitarian commissars of East Berlin, the compass was a tool to brutally crush freedom, brotherhood, equality, truth, science, philosophy, and humanity in the name of constructing a world devoid of Faith and Hope and Charity.

In the hands of the East German Communists, the only masonry possible with their compass was that ghostly, ghastly gray concrete wall that divided Berlin.

Light shines from the West.

It was twenty years ago today that Light breached that wall. As we say in the Chapter of Rose Croix: “May we commit ourselves anew to the high task of building a nobler world of freedom and justice for God and humanity. ‘As you would that men should do unto you, do you even so unto them.’ So may the Light that never fails, the Love that never forgets, and the Life that never ends, illumine our world.”

No comments: