Monday, March 16, 2015

‘The slender thread of life’

Mortality is a huge subject in Freemasonry. Maybe it’s not the dominant topic or theme, but death looms almost everywhere in Masonic ritual and symbol; in tenet and teaching. The thing is, death is discussed as the natural inevitability that follows long life. As the Master Mason Lecture of your lodge might phrase it, give or take a word: “The tender hopes of youth, the blushing honors of manhood soon vanish, and are succeeded by the withering frosts of age; and the sands of life, whether slowly or rapidly, will surely ebb away.”

Magpie file photo

W. Bro. Tony Brown, Master of historic Allied Lodge No. 1170 in New York City, lost his life Friday night unpredictably and unbelievably. He was 33 years old. The lodge will meet tonight for its regular communication, with Grand Master Bill Thomas sitting in the East, to eulogize its Worshipful Master. In Craft Masonry there isn’t much to prepare the bereaved for the loss of one so young.

Masonic funeral services: Guarino Funeral Home of Canarsie. Saturday, March 21. Brethren assemble at 2 p.m. Masonic service at three oclock. Viewing 4 to 7 p.m. Service at seven o’clock. Attire is black (or dark) suit and tie with plain white apron and gloves.

Courtesy Cliff Jacobs
Grand Master William J. Thomas with W. Bro. Tony Brown.
I had the privilege of sitting in lodge with W. Tony only once or twice that I recollect. I didn’t know him personally, but saw him here or there in Masonic Hall. Masons die all the time of course, but the news typically concerns an elderly brother who practically was unknown to most who are active in lodge currently. Some kind words are spoken, and maybe a team can be sent to the funeral to present the Masonic obsequy before the mourners, but generally there often is a visible distance between mortality’s centrality to Masonic culture and the reality of how the death of a brother is absorbed by his lodge. That will not be the case tonight.

I will be with my lodge elsewhere in the building conferring the Fellow Craft Degree this evening, but my thoughts will be with Allied Lodge at this time of mournful disbelief. Alas, my brother.

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