Friday, January 29, 2010

‘The fruits of labor at Alpha’

W. Bro. David Lindez, left, receives the thanks of Alpha Lodge No. 116 from Worshipful Master Kevin and District Deputy Grand Master Fred Waldron Wednesday night. David was Master last year.

We enjoyed a nice evening at Alpha Lodge the other night with a fun, interactive program complemented by a heartfelt gesture by the lodge in salute to its junior Past Master.

The meeting began with Worshipful Master Kevin calling W. Bro. David Lindez to the East, where he was presented with an etched golden plaque commemorating his service to Alpha Lodge in 2009 – when The Magpie Mason conferred upon it the nickname “The Provincial Grand Lodge of Essex County.” If you read this blog with any regularity last year, you learned of the world renowned lecturers and other visitors who made stops at Alpha Lodge, surely testaments to W. Bro. Lindez’s qualities as a man and a Mason. Bro. Rob Morton, Senior Warden, was summoned to the East for the purpose of awarding David his Past Master’s jewel and ring.

The program for the evening was a multifaceted group presentation united under a theme one might term “The fruits of labor.” Five presenters took turns in a kind of show-and-tell format, giving talks and displaying items to make the point that working hard in Freemasonry yields benefits of health and happiness, with the possibility of acceptance into Masonry’s invitational and honorary orders to boot.

Bro. Gerard, recently returned from a trip to the Holy Land, spoke on the Tree of Life, pointing out the parallels between this timeless esoteric map of the spirit to the meaning of Masonry. Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty are not only supports of a lodge; they epitomize vigorous health of psyche, body, and spirit.

W. Bro. Franklin of Nutley Lodge No. 25, also recently passed from the Master’s chair, likewise worked wonders during his year in the East, dispensing Light to the brethren with the help of an impressive itinerary of guest lecturers and with a variety of very enjoyable activities. You may have read about these meetings on this blog also.

Left: W. Bro. Franklin displays his replica George Washington apron.
Right: Bro. Gerard explains the Tree of Life.

Franklin talked frankly about what Masonry means to him, and what he has gained from his experience as Worshipful Master. For “Show and Tell,” he gave the brethren an eyeful of the beautiful apron his lodge gave him. Not the constitutionally mandated lambskin bordered with purple grosgrain – although he got one of those too – but a wonderful reproduction of the apron presented to Bro. George Washington in 1784 by the Marquis de Lafayette.

Bro. José, also from Nutley Lodge, and a newly initiated brother of the Allied Masonic Degrees, spoke enthusiastically of the AMD. Franklin and José are among the charter members of Alexandria Council No. 478, one of the four(!) AMD councils chartered in New Jersey in 2009.

José displayed AMD regalia (aprons, breast jewels, etc.), connecting each piece to its corresponding degree, and explained these time honored degrees, sometimes with the help of W. Lindez.

Bro. José displays the miniature jewels of the AMD.

Yours truly spoke of The Masonic Society, careful to point out how membership is not invitational, and that all that is required is a curious mind desirous of further Light in Masonry. Circulating copies of all six issues published thus far of The Journal of The Masonic Society, I explained the philosophy of the publisher: to offer a top quality periodical that delivers solid scholarship, colorful current events, insightful opinion, fiction, poetry, helpful advertisements, and more – the way the excellent Masonic magazines of the early 20th century did, but this time with state-of-the-art layout and design.

The Magpie Mason does a lot of work in Freemasonry – frankly, more than is healthy – and nothing instills more pride than my association with The Masonic Society. Since introducing ourselves in 2008, membership in the Society has grown to more than 1,000. Issue No. 7 of The Journal is now arriving in our members’ mailboxes, and our on-line discussion forum is buzzing with 650 members discussing 3,300 topics. And we’re getting ready for our second annual Gathering and Banquet on February 12 in Alexandria, Virginia at Masonic Week. In addition, local events, called Second Circle meetings, are taking place all over the United States and Canada, with one in the works for Britain too! It is exhilarating to eyewitness such success.

After my spiel, several other Masonic Society members rose spontaneously to say how much they too love the magazine. José said when he receives each new issue of The Journal, he stays awake late into the night reading it from cover to cover. That was one of the more tame endorsements offered. And then, our Master of Ceremonies thoughtfully held up a stack of Masonic Society membership applications, asking “Who wants one of these?” Nearly every brother in the room stuck out a hand to get one. Thanks for that, guys.

And speaking of our intrepid Master of Ceremonies, it was none other than Bro. Rob who brought us all together, kept us all on topic, and thematically tied together our presentations... with calisthenics thrown in too! (The Magpie Mason is unable to share the memorable photo of the exercising, for fear of being pummeled.) Seriously though, think about that. Imagine a couple of minutes near the start of a lodge meeting devoted to some simple stretching exercises to get the blood circulating, awakening the body and mind. I’m a strong advocate of adding a moment of silence to the early minutes of a meeting for the sake of tranquility, but the perfect complement to this would be, let’s say, a “moment of motion!” Just a minute of stretching arms, legs, back, and neck to maintain alertness. (Or maybe your lodge has no one napping on the sidelines!)

Rob’s own talk included a show-and-tell display of the replica claymore given to him in thanks by his grateful commandery, the excellent Trinity No. 17. But more importantly he shared with us the numerous pieces of “bling” (his word). In what really could be the most important remarks of the evening, thanks to their candor and brevity, Rob said these beautiful aprons, medals, jewels, collars, sashes, and swords are not to be treasured for their impressive appearances or intrinsic values, but they must be seen as symbols of the intangible: the spreading of Brotherly Love, the readiness to extend Relief, the resolute upholding of Truth. It was a blunt challenge to our senses of duty and honor which, to be honest, needs to be heard much more often in this fraternity. I’m sure we all have seen instances of titles and privileges being bestowed with undue generosity, which of course devalues the fraternity itself, to say nothing of reducing its regalia to gimcrackery.

Yes, it was a great night at Alpha. As usual.

The Magpie Mason will be the guest lecturer at Alpha Lodge’s Regular Communication of Wednesday, May 26. Topic: “Death: Why I’m Looking Forward to It!”

No comments: